Perry Ellis was a popular fashion designer in the 1970s and 1980s before his untimely death in 1986.
Born and educated in Virginia, Ellis initially entered the fashion world through the retail side. Earning a master's degree in retailing from New York University, he returned to Virginia to work as a buyer and merchandiser, and eventually co-founded his own retail store. A move back to New York to join a sportswear company eventually led to an opportunity to design a womenswear collection. Although Ellis could not sketch, his experience with clothing and the fashion industry enabled him to create one of the most successful sportswear lines of the 1970s, culminating with the introduction of his own brand in 1978.