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Bill Blass LLC. remains a successful brand that carries Blass’ signature style. The Spring 2011 collection is light and airy, with cotton suiting pants and textured tops. Clothing is casual and tasteful, perfect for the working woman who doesn’t compromise her need for comfort. There is an appropriate selection of dresses that have clean cuts and subtle details, such as this season’s favorite dot lace and metallic beads. Jacquard tops and cotton skirts are other highlights from the Spring collection.

The man behind innovative combinations of textures and patterns, Bill Blass was an American fashion designer born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Originally named Ralph Blass, Bill Blass always had a passion for women’s clothing and accessories. His school notebooks were filled with sketches of clothing that were inspired by the current Hollywood trends. By the age of fifteen, Blass began sewing women’s dresses and selling them to a New York manufacturer for a mere $25. Taking the money that he had earned from the evening gowns, Blass moved to Manhattan and studied fashion design, excelling in the field and becoming the first male to win Mademoiselle’s Design for Living award.

In 1942, Blass took a short break from fashion design and enlisted in the army. He partnered with other creative professionals to fool the German Army into believing that allies were planted in fake positions. In 1946, Blass returned to the fashion industry and began his successful career in New York. He launched several menswear and womenswear collections, and in 1970, purchased Maurice Rentner Ltd. and renamed it Bill Blass Ltd. For the next 30 years, Blass continued to expand his line to offer swimwear, luggage, fragrances and assorted chocolates. In 1998, Bill Blass Ltd. was a company worth $700 million a year and he sold the business for $50 million, retiring to his home in Connecticut. Blass passed away in 2002 and since then, the company has been in the hands of different designers. During the years of 2003 to 2007, Michaele Vollbracht was in the role of head designer. Blass and Vollbracht had worked together in the past, and Vollbracht knew what the label needed to carry on Blass’ legacy.
In 2007, the company was obtained by Nexcen Brands and announced that fashion designer Peter Som would be designing the womenswear line, while Michael Bastian would be in charge of the menswear. Today, Bill Blass Ltd. is owned by Peacock International Holdings LLC, which acquired the company in 2008. With an extensive line that includes luxury clothing, accessories and swimwear for men and women, Bill Blass is still known for its intricate designs that incorporate exotic textures and patterns.
Like any designer, Bill Blass has its own reputation for designing comfortable, everyday clothing for the modern woman. In a time where designers were tackling other sides of the industry, creating clothes that were works of art, Blass focused on cozy, laidback attire that was feminine and fun. The outfits transferred perfectly from day to night and never lost their clean, simple look that featured meticulous details. Blass was known as the designer who recreated women’s sportswear, giving it a cleaned-up, natural look that any woman could slip into.

Blass continued to show the world that he understood what females wanted in their clothing collections, and he won the hearts of many famous women, including Barbara Bush and Jackie Kennedy. His outfits were timeless yet fashionable, and continued to remain staples in women’s wardrobes instead of moving along with the current trends. Blass’ designs were well-received and he won many fashion awards, including seven Coty Awards and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Blass started his fashion career during a time when designers didn’t use their names to market their clothing. They would create couture suits and dresses for manufacturers and their names would be voided off the tag. Blass was not willing to let his unique designs get lost in the fashion world; instead, he demanded attention and wanted his name to be synonymous with distinctive, fashion-forward designs. With this attitude, Blass achieved his goal and his name was featured on the manufacturer’s label next to the established trademarks. Blass set the stage for future designers who wanted their names to stand behind their brand.
Blass’ designs are colorful and creative, and he is most widely known for his shaped evening gowns and playful sporty clothes. Since Blass went with his own practical designs and steered clear of the recent fads, his label mingled well throughout the decades and always remained a brand of choice for women. Not only did Blass dabble in the fashion world, but he also lent a creative hand to Ford Motors. Together, they featured an exclusive edition of automobiles that had the interiors and exteriors updated each year. The Continental Mark series was heavily anticipated and ideas included vivid colors and nautical themes. Even though the auto field was a stretch for Blass, he brought his ingenious side to the company and had people wanting more each year, just as with fashion design.
The Fall 2011 collection features a dark color palate that consists of shades of black and deep red. Bright white pieces are worn with the blacks, allowing the outfits to pop from the wearer. A fitted dark jacket with white-lined pockets and necklines is a feature from the collection, while white cotton pants, tight black leggings and plaid striped Bermuda shorts are other staples. Simple, long skirts are flattering and chic, while tailored suit coats look graceful and stunning. The Fall collection also includes long evening gowns in shades of red, as well as modest black dresses with feathered details.
Bill Blass was one of the first male designers to invent both men’s and women’s clothing, and his line was so extensive, it reached beyond the clothing market to include cars, linens, airline uniforms and chocolates. He stood apart from the crowd and his label continues to shine in today’s competitive market. Women know that they can always count on a Bill Blass item to wrap them in pure comfort and serenity.



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