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Monday, October 31, 2011

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Susan Ledyard, President and Designer of CASS Luxury Shapewear Sponsored by The Ellen Christine Millinery

Susan Ledyard

The Best Milliner in Manhattan
& Official Milliner of Whom You Know: 
By appointment in her showroom
Ellen Christine is a Mover and Shaker:


Susan Ledyard is the first to admit that starting CASS Luxury Shapewear and designing its INVISIBELLAS® Collection of body-slimming seamless tops and boy shorts wasn’t something she always planned to do. But after the birth of her two children – both of whom weighed more than 10 pounds – Susan discovered that it’s not just the babies that have to deal with baby fat. A former dancer of many years, Susan never had to battle the bulge before, but she couldn’t bear to wear her delicate cashmere sweaters, clingy blouses or even the little polos with such unsightly bulges in the bra area and above the trousers.

A lifelong fan of couture clothing, Susan wanted to get back into her beloved svelte and sexy clothes as quickly as possible. She needed to find an item that would give her shaping support and tie her wardrobe together. In her search for a smoothing top that could be worn as both inner and outerwear, she found constricting styles that did nothing to offer support where she needed it. Susan wanted something light, comfortable and breathable that could offer enough support to be worn without a bra. She soon realized that she was going to have to create something herself that would make women look good – no compromises.

Having lived in the United States and Italy during her teen years and twenties, Susan had grown up with a strong interest in fashion with both European and American taste. She had years of background in classical dance, during which time she gained much experience with body-hugging dancewear and how one should be able to feel and move while wearing it. Susan studied the body’s natural curvature, muscle development and movement as a sculptor for several years, as well. That combined with three generations of couture fashion design in her family and sewing background that started at the age of three, made Susan a natural designer of seamlessly shaping tops and bottoms for women.

In addition to pulling from her varied background, Susan worked to select the best textiles and develop a unique knitting process to execute her designs. She began working with a Santoni, the seamless knit specialist from Italy and together, they created a patented process that can lift and shape a woman’s curves naturally, without pinching, squeezing or binding. The result is INVISIBELLAS – a comfortable shape and support line of tops, bottoms, bodysuits and dresses that smoothes bulges and can be worn without a bra (up to a DD).

Today, the INVISIBELLAS® Collection from CASS Luxury Shapewear is a favorite at retailers Kirna Zabete, Lane Crawford and Bloomingdales, as well as hundreds of upscale specialty shops across the nation. We are so pleased to present Susan Ledyard as our latest Mover and Shaker!
Peachy Deegan interviewed Susan Ledyard for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What kind of dancing did you used to enjoy? 
Susan Ledyard: Classic, Modern, Ballet, Swing, Salsa, Hip hop, belly dance, African

Do you still dance, and do your children? 
On my own- I would love to join a group in Philadelphia one day when I have some time. My boys dance on their own and have amazing rhythm.

What is the difference between regular shapewear and luxury shapewear? 
An easy way to look at this is that regular shapewear is mass-distributed and usually made with inexpensive polyesters and yarns that do not perform or feel as good as CASS luxury shapewear. We created the yarn and process that goes into making CASS fabrics feel, look and perform for the life of the garment.

We know your top we tried out was made in the USA and we love that. Where specifically do you manufacture and when will all of your products be made here if that is possible? 
We produce on west and east coasts. 90% of CASS is made in USA- we have just brought back 5% more and plan to stay because we can assure quality and performance.

Where did you live in Italy and how did you like it? 
I lived in Rome, Italy more specifically Eur with my parents. Much of my mother’s family was there and that made our stay exceptional. We had traveled to Italy since I was 13 years old and at 18 years old, I was very fortunate to have moved there with my family. The Italian boys were a bit of a problem though.

Would you like to tell us about your family's fashion history? 
 Of course, my great Aunt, Italian Seamstress of fine coats, taught me to sew at 3 years old on an old singer pedal machine. I still have the machine. My Mother also designed elegant suiting and dresses, and my sister (every boyfriend she has had sewed!!!) and husband had a childrens clothing company called “Laughing Dog” all fleece fabrics were made from recycled plastics.

What is your favorite outerwear? 
So so many designers.. mostly Celine, Stella, Alaia

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
 My grandmother… she never ran out of gas. When I was three years old she put me to work and paid me to answer the telephone and take messages. She was a STELLAR woman!

What are you proudest of and why? 
Design collaboration with Camilla Staerk for Anthropology. Cass created the innerwear and Camilla the outerwear to be worn together. Launches in ANTHRO stores in 2 weeks.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
Design innerwear that is sewn directly into major designers clothing.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
Patents, Top Woman in Business in Delaware and trademarks.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
Carl Schurz park on east end river

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
Kirna Zabete

What is your favorite drink? 
Tequila and tonic up

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party? 
Danced all night on pillars!!

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
Gramercy Tavern

What is your favorite Manhattan book? 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Who would you like to be for a day and why? 
A character from Christopher Moore’s “It’s a Dirty Job”. This is an amazingly creative book and all of the characters are so full of color and spirit.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
NY Public Library- full of history

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Roller blading back in the 80’s up and down the west side

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Eat and drink my way through the city morning to night.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
Bill Clinton- he means well and has enormous charisma.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
Visiting Graham Arader’s house and Galleries

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
As a young girl I worked for an inner city school to help 13 -16 year olds gain work habits through construction projects- Habitat for humanity and other HUD projects in the city of Wilmington. My husband and I are adamant land preservers and have been responsible for saving over 150 acres of land in our area from development. YEAH!!!! We also support and are on the board of the Brandywine River Museum.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here? 
Underrated – inner beauty
Overrated - outward beauty

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
See Manhattan on Your Feet and Shoe of the Week for coverage of Anna Baiguera ballet flats

Have you drank The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not? 
I look forward to my first Peachy Deegan!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I’ve been sculpting animals and people since 10 yrs of age.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? Visit

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