Born: June 28, 1905, in Chambersburg, PA, and grew up in Charlotte, NC.
Famed For: She created the original Playboy Bunny costume, which was presented at the opening of the first Playboy Club in Chicago, IL on February 29, 1960. It was also the first commercial uniform to be registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The Women’s Life: In 1948, Valdes opened "Zelda Wynn," her design and dressmaking studio, on Broadway (in what is now Washington Heights on Broadway and West 158th Street). Valdes said that her shop was the first black-owned business on Broadway. She sold dresses to movie star Dorothy Dandridge, opera diva Jessye Norman and singer Gladys Knight. Valdes also dressed the entire bridal party for the 1948 wedding of Maria and Nat King Cole.
Additional celebrity clients included Josephine Baker, Mae West, Ella Fitzgerald and Eartha Kitt. Valdes was also noted for creating the sexier image for singe4r Joyce Bryant who LIFE Magazine dubbed “the Black Marilyn Monroe.
In the 1950s, she moved "Chez Zelda" to 151 57th Street in Midtown. She had a staff of nine dressmakers and charged almost $1,000 per couture gown.