Sunday, March 1, 2009
WHO IS VALENTINA?
This morning's National Public Radio interviewed Kohle Yohannan about his book Valentina: American Couture and The Cult of Celebrity.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the interview about Valentina. However, I was also impressed with the author's background as well.
Yohannan is the owner of Greystone Court which is a Gothic Revival in Yonkers, just a few minutes outside of New York City. A castle previously owned by Ballet Russe's Vera and Michael Fokine.
In Yohannan's interview with NPR's Weekend Edition, he mentions almost giving up on writing the book on Valentina, until 2001 when he found a 1923 theatre program with a picture of Valentina on it in the attic of Greystone Court.
Yohannan was also ex-husband to the famous fashion designer and writer Mary Mcfadden.
The Museum of the city of New York is showing an exhibition on Valentina Schlee who was a Ukrainian immigrant ballerina and actress that first came to the U.S. in 1922. She was born Valentina Sanina on May 1, 1904.
Her attempts of becoming a successful actress was short lived due to her heavy Ukranian accent. In 1923, she started "Valentina's Gowns in New York City which was referred to as a couture house.
Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, courtesy of Nina Frantzen, from “Valentina” by Kohle Yohannan, Rizzoli 2009
She became a successful fashion designer throughout the 1930's and 1940' dressing socialites such as Millicent Rogers and Millicent Hearst, actresses Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo.
Photo by Horst, from “Valentina” by Kohle Yohanna, Rizzoli, 2009
She modeled a lot of her own designs. She was famous for her impeccable taste in which inducted her into the International Best Dressed List.
In the 1950's she introduced a perfume line called "My Own".
Photo by John Rawlings, from “Valentina” by Kohle Yohanna, Rizzoli, 2009 Valentina’s credo has since become a cornerstone of modern luxury branding.
She married George Schlee(died 1971), a well known theater producer. George Schlee earned the celebrity spotlight for his affair with screen siren Greta Garbo. She died in 1989 in New York City.