Perry Ellis (March 3, 1940 May 30, 1986) was an American fashion designer who founded a sportswear house in the mid-1970s. Perry Edwin Ellis was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on March 3, 1940, as the only child of Edwin and Winifred Rountree Ellis. His father owned a Coal and Oil company which enabled the family to live a comfortable middle-class life. Perry graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth, Virginia in 1957. Perry then studied at the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia, and graduated with a degree in business administration in 1961. He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard reserve to avoid the military draft and after six months he enrolled at New York University, from which he graduated with a master's degree in retailing in 1963. He then started out in department store retailing in the Richmond, Virginia area to gain experience in the fashion industry as a buyer and merchandiser at the department store Miller & Rhoads.
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