James Galanos was born 20 September 1924 in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only son of Greek-born parents. His mother, Helen Gorgoliatos, and his father, Gregory Galanos, a frustrated artist, ran a restaurant in southern New Jersey, where Galanos had his first glimpses of well-dressed women. He grew up a shy boy and learned to work hard from early age. Galanos remembers that he was "a loner, surrounded by three sisters. I never sewed; I just sketched. It was simply instinctive. As a young boy I had no fashion influences around me but all the while I was dreaming of Paris and New York." Galanos graduated from Bridgeton High School in Bridgeton, New Jersey in 1942 and went to New York City intending to enroll at a school headed by Barbara Karinska, the great Russian stage designer and costumer. When the school failed to open in the autumn, he enrolled at the Traphagen School of Fashion, one of the first schools of its kind. He attended two semesters at Traphagen, the first spent in general design studies and the second in draping and construction. After eight months, in 1943, Galanos left the school because he felt that what he wanted to learn could only be acquired from practical experience in the garment industry.
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