Sleep No More

Galitzine, the midcentury brand that started the pajama party, awakes from its slumber.


Long before Stella McCartney and Miuccia Prada put pajamas on the runway, Irene Galitzine, a Russian princess who immigrated to Rome during the Bolshevik Revolution, was designing shimmering silk evening pants and matching tops. First introduced in 1960, Galitzine’s luxurious, laid-back ensembles—dubbed “palazzo pyjamas” by Diana Vreeland—became all the rage among the designer’s jetset crowd, which included Sophia Loren, Wallis Simpson, and Marie-Hélène de Rothschild. “I wish you could see us,” Jacqueline Kennedy wrote to her from the White House in 1963. “It’s like a convent—Jayne [Wrightsman], Marella [Agnelli], Lee [Radziwill], and I are in your uniform every night!”

A fashion presentation, 1969

But it was Galitzine who arguably wore the look best as she graciously presided over dinner parties at her home on the Piazza di Spagna. “She designed clothes that fit her lifestyle—constantly elegant in a very easy way,” says Sergio Zambon, a Fendi alum with his own eponymous line who was recently tapped to revive the label. Last season, he went back to the roots of the brand, debuting a small lineup of crystal-embroidered linen pajamas. For fall, Zambon has created a full collection complete with cocoon coats, tiger-print trousers, Lurex tunics, and of course, the house’s signature loungewear, reimagined in a leaner silhouette and fabrics like velvet and silk damask. No doubt the simple, glamorous pieces, available at Barneys New York, would have appealed to Galitzine. “Women are so overwhelmed with fashion,” Zambon says. “These clothes speak more about style.”

Photos: Galitzine by Sergio Zambon Fall 2013 Collection; Galitzine Archive