The Zelda Wynn Valdes Hugh Hefner Connection
Zelda became the first the first African-American to own a store on Broadway in New York City, called Chez Zelda. She was also the New York chapter president of the National Association of Fashion and Accessory Designer (NAFAD), a coalition of black designers that was founded by Mary McLeod Bethune.
Zelda Wynn Valdes (or Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes ) was a fashion and costume designer for the biggest names in Hollywood. She was very popular during the 1940s and 1950s. Valdes was known for creating designs displaying a woman’s curvy appeal. Many of her clients included celebrities Joyce Bryant, Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Mae West. Zelda Valdes eventually caught the eye of Hugh Hefner, who requested that she design the Playboy Bunny costumes, making her work an iconic symbol to many.
Zelda Valdes was also asked to act as the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s head of costumes, a company she remained with for 18 years. Zelda’s legacy is long and enduring — a fact that she was certainly proud of. “I just had a God-given talent for making people beautiful,” Zelda said during a 1994 interview with The New York Times. Zelda Wynn Valdes died at the age of 96 in 2001.