Tennis Prose




Feb/23

2

Designer Oleg Cassini Loved Tennis

Renowned fashion designer and Hollywood stylist Oleg Cassini loved to play tennis. Or rather compete like a demon to achieve the thrill of victory.

Bob Harman even mentioned Cassini’s tennis tenacity in his book “Use Your Head In Tennis.”

Harman opened chapter 16 TENNIS NEEDN’T TIRE YOU with his perspective on Cassini’s court demeanor.

“Oleg Cassini, one of the members of my club, plays tennis so hard he has to go home to bed after a few sets. There are plenty of other members the same way. They play themselves to a standstill. They fight to the very last ounce of their strength, till their eyes are popping and their hearts are knocking their chest apart. Why? Because they want to win. Damn the torpedoes; to hell with the consequences; they’re going to win if it kills them!”

“And sometimes it does. Almost every big tennis club has had one or two members drop dead on the courts. And it has plenty of others who died in bed, long before their time, because they didn’t know when or how to ease up.”

Cassini’s personal motto was “Better than most – second to none.”

Born in Paris, France on April 11, 1913, Oleg Cassini’s wikipedia page says he “excelled at tennis and competed seriously since his early days as a ranked Italian Junior Davis Cup player. His skill at tennis led to a fortuitous design connection. Recounted in his autobiography, newly arrived in Hollywood, Cassini played tennis at the prestigious West Side Tennis Club which led to a doubles game with the head of Paramount Pictures.¬†Decades later, Cassini also created collections of printed and multi color tennis wear, bringing ‘color to the court.’ He is noted for having outfitted the US Davis Cup team and for participating in celebrity pro-am tournaments such as the¬†Alan King¬†Tournament in Las Vegas. Cassini also participated and won the 5th Annual RFK Pro Celebrity Tennis Tournament in 1976. The silver winner’s cup was presented to him personally by Jackie Kennedy Onassis.”

Jackie Kennedy credited her friend Cassini with creating her pillbox look, he referred to himself as Jackie’s “secretary of style.” Cassini designed costumes for over a dozen Hollywood films including Lost Honeymoon, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Meet Joe Black, etc. Employed by the studio, he dressed stars like Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Temple, Janet Leigh, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Ursula Andress, Lana Turner, Kim Basinger and Taylor Swift.

He expanded his designs to sports too. In the mid 1970s he created a tennis attire line. And the “Competitors” Collection menswear campaign was also launched by Cassini – featuring icons of sport wearing Cassini including: Ted Turner¬†for sailing, Bob Hope and Ray Floyd for golf, Michael Jordan for basketball, Mario Andretti for auto racing,¬†Gary Carter for baseball,¬†Lynn Swann and Lawrence “LT” Taylor for football and¬†actor Charlton Heston, TV host Regis Philbin and singer Kenny Rogers for tennis.

Cassini died in Manhasset, NY at age 92 in 2006. He was married three times, including to movie star Gene Tierney.

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