These Mexican-inspired designs were created by Luis Estevez, who was, naturally, Cuban. He was also talented, charismatic, and ambitious: at age 23, he became the youngest-ever designer to receive the coveted Coty Award. Estevez' designs were simple yet thrillingly feminine, often with unexpectedly daring touches: a plunging neckline here, an exposed shoulder blade there. They mirrored the life of the man himself, who was elegant and decorus, yet unabashedly hedonistic and pleasure-seeking. Married to the former model Betty Dew (a union described as one of the great marriages of convenience, as well as one of the most glamorous; Hubert de Givenchy acted as best man and gave the bride away), the self-described bisexual designer disarmed men and women alike with his impish good looks and charm.
ESTEVEZ (R) & FRIEND IN ACAPULCO; INSET: ESTEVEZ AT THE HAVANA YACHT CLUB. VIA NEW YORK SOCIAL DIARY.
Estevez' friends and clients read like a Who's Who of society and Hollywood, and not surprisingly, included such SSUWAT icons as Dina Merrill, Norma Shearer, and Eva Gabor (with whom he designed a short-lived clothing line bearing the actress' name). There's an in-depth profile of Estevez from the archives of David Patrick Columbia's venerable New York Social Diary, recalling an epoch in history and fashion which seems both as hauntingly memorable and fleetingly fragile as a whiff of expensive perfume.