The Bill Blass House of Fashion

On this day, June 22 in the year 1922, the orphan who became famous in the fashion industry was born in Indiana, USA. His name is William Ralph “Bill” Blass, the founder of Bill Blass Ltd.

Bill Blass
Bill Blass (Credit:

Bill was 5 years old when salesman father committed suicide. His mother was a dressmaker, which may have inspired him early on to develop a career in fashion. As he wrote in his autobiography, he filled the margin of his school notebook with sketches of dresses and other Hollywood stuffs. He learned how to sew dresses from his mother and sold his products to a manufacturer. When he earned enough money, he travelled to New York to study design at Parsons. Afterwards, he worked as a sketch artist in a sportswear company. After only a year, he became the first male to win the Mademoiselle’s Design for Living Award.

During World War II, Bill served in the 603rd Camouflage Battalion with a group of creative professionals. Their duty was to create decoys to foil enemy attacks. After the war, he initially worked for a number of fashion designers until 1970 when he acquired the company he was working with since 1959. He renamed it as Bill Blass Ltd. He travelled to many places to promote his designs. He dressed many celebrities and other famous people such as First Lady Barbara Bush, Barbara Walters and Gloria Vanderbilt. He also licensed his name to other manufacturers outside fashion including Ford Motors. By the 1990s, revenues reached $800 million mark.

In 2002, Bill succumbed to throat cancer and died at his home in Connecticut. As part of a new rebranding effort, Chris Benz was appointed as Creative Director in November, 2014.

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