Bill Blass was an influential American fashion designer who was known for creating both men and women's clothing that put wearability above eccentric fashion design.
Bill Blass was born William Ralph Blass to the dressmaker Ethyl Ester Keyser and traveling hardware salesman Ralph Aldrich Blass in 1922. Blass began his early fashion career at the age of 15 by selling handsewn evening gowns. This earned him enough money to move to Manhattan at 17 and study fashion full time. Impressively, one year later he became the first male to win Mademoiselle's Design for Living award.
Blass began his proper fashion career in 1946 when he became the protégé of fashion insider Baron de Gunzburg (who later became editor in chief of Town & Country as well as an editor for both Vogue and Harper's Bazaar). In 1970 Blass finally acquired his own company when he bought Maurice Rentner Ltd (for which he was already a partial owner) and renamed it Bill Blass Limited.
In 1942 Blass’s career took an interesting twist when he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to a camouflage division. While in the camouflage division Blass joined sound designers, artists and theatrical personnel to create fake staging areas designed to confuse enemy forces into believing that the Allies were located in spurious positions.