Heritage

How the Bunny Came to Be: Playboy Club New York Bunnies Usher In a Bold New Era

Name a figure more iconic than the Playboy Bunny. More admired, recognizable, copied, even fetishized and idolized? There’s none. From her perfectly crooked satin ears, boned hourglass bodice and unwavering smile down to her puffed-up tail and freshly pressed cuffs, the original Bunny’s uniform, created by African American fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes, is the first to be issued a trademark registration by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It also has barely changed since its inception in 1960. But the Bunny herself has evolved with her shifting generations. She first appeared at the Playboy Club Chicago, wearing essentially a modified one-piece swimsuit. Over the years, there have been over 25,000 working Bunnies, a number that includes the likes of Lauren Hutton, Deborah Harry and then-freelance writer Gloria Steinem, who went undercover in 1963 at the Playboy Club New York to find out what working in the costume was really like. Her essay, “A Bunny’s Life,” put her on the map. An endless amount of celebrities have paid tribute to the Bunny in pop culture, from Rihanna, Reese Witherspoon, Anna Faris and Paris Hilton to Farrah Fawcett, Barbara Walters, Kirstie Alley and Carol Channing.

Now the Cocktail Bunny is back, making a return with this month’s opening of the Playboy Club New York. We sat down with two of the Club’s Head Bunnies, Angel Ross and Diana Henriquez, to talk about what it means to wear the famed (and sometimes infamous) suit as a liberated woman in 2018 – and why there might be nothing more empowering than being a Bunny.


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