Simply put, she is the matriarch of fashion in the city. From her iconic wedding
gowns, to her stylish wigs and turbans to her glamourous podcast, Yolanda –having
just celebrated her 89th birthday in November- continues to be the fabric of excellence
the entire fashion industry in Boston looks up to.
IN the pulsating heart of Boston’s fashion realm, where threads of creativity weave together to form groundbreaking style, one name transcends the mere fabric of time itself: Yolanda Cellucci.
At the age of 89, Yolanda Cellucci stands as an unrivaled icon, philanthropist, and revered matriarch within Boston’s dynamic fashion culture. From her early career when she established herself as an entrepreneur, breaking boundaries on industry standards, to successfully navigating decades of the ever-evolving currents of the fashion industry, Yolanda embodies a mesmerizing blend of sophistication, astute business acumen, and an unyielding passion for her craft.
Beyond being a force of nature, Yolanda is the luminary who has not merely witnessed but actively shaped the evolution of Boston’s fashion identity interminability.
Yolanda’s career is marked by her industriousness, earnest labor, and entrepreneurial tact. She credits her parents for instilling these values in her at a young age.
Yolanda’s foray into fashion came at a pivotal moment in her life: senior prom. Coming from modest financial means, Yolanda had to save up her own money to afford a dress. As prom approached, her mother discovered that she had not saved enough. It was at this juncture that her mother, ever resourceful, proposed a creative alternative—crafting the dress herself.
Yolanda ventured to the store, procured a design pattern, and embarked on the creation of a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind gown. Using silver sequins and tulle acquired for a mere 10 cents a yard, she fashioned a flowing skirt with a sparkling bodice. Her ingenious creation not only caught everyone’s eyes but also earned her the title of prom queen, triumphing over her peers who had invested a lot of money in lavish dresses.
“It taught me something that it wasn’t the price, it was about the style,” said Yolanda. “It was the glitter. I loved glitter from that day on. It was like it gave me a whole new lease on life.”
It was in this moment that Yolanda discovered her profound affinity for fashion.
Years later, Yolanda fell deeply in love with an incredible man, Daniel Cellucci, a plumbing professional, whom she would ultimately be married to for 65 years before his passing in 2021 due to a battle with cancer. While they lived a wonderful, happy, and fulfilled life together, early in their relationship there were financial challenges that the two learned to navigate together.
Married with children at the tender age of 27, the throes of fiscal stress manifested in hair loss for Yolanda. She turned to wigs, but she was dissatisfied with the quality and options available in the market. Once again taking matters into her own hands, she began styling wigs, inadvertently setting the stage for a transformative business venture that would change her life. Through word of mouth, Yolanda found herself at the forefront of a burgeoning industry. What started as a personal conquest she did voluntarily, grew to accommodate cancer patients and retirement homes, and expanded to help women who were facing similar challenges as herself.
This was a turning point in Yolanda’s entrepreneurial journey. Her business continued to grow and as it did, Yolanda’s wheels started turning on how she could expand it. While her store was initially focused on wigs, she eventually turned it into a first-of-its-kind shop that offered dresses and a beauty salon. Clients would come in, get their hair done, and pick out a gown for a special occasion. Her shop, Yolanda’s, became a beacon of beauty in the Boston area.
Yolanda’s innovative spirit led her to grow this business into a pinnacle luxury one-stop shop for all areas of fashion and beauty – ultimately developing a multifaceted space that included additions of a health club, coffee shop, spa, and so much more. Her business acumen and penchant for ingenuity led Yolanda to expand her store’s offerings, incorporating bridal wear, fur, and shoes.
Driven by the mission to “help every woman feel like a real woman,” Yolanda’s boutique became a haven for women seeking not just fashion but an experience that celebrated their essence.
As the fashion landscape evolved, Yolanda adapted, orchestrating fashion shows on short notice and donning hats and turbans to exude spontaneity. She even had collaborations with television personalities like Tom Bergeron and Sharon King, further solidifying her status as a go-to fashion expert in Boston. Yolanda worked with the entirety of the Boston sports scene dressing the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, and Patriots for many events and runway shows. In fact, Yolanda dressed the entire Boston Celtics team for a fashion show, including legend Larry Bird.
National celebrities who traveled to visit Yolanda’s cemented her in the fashion landscape of the country. When any client walked into Yolanda’s, the store’s unique charm, complete with a spiral staircase and lots of glamor, captivated fashion enthusiasts and celebrities, like Natalie Cole and Lenny Clarke, and many others who traveled near and far to seek Yolanda’s expertise.
In the illustrious realm of dinners with esteemed clients and celebrities, Yolanda’s creative prowess took center stage. A master of ingenuity, she seamlessly blended business and style during these glamorous affairs. When partaking in evenings hosted by renowned restaurants or hotels, Yolanda orchestrated a subtle yet impactful spectacle.
During dinners, Yolanda added a clever touch by discreetly signaling the staff to call her for an “urgent” matter. Rising gracefully, she became a living representation of her business prowess. Each step she took radiated the aura of a visionary at the peak of her design skills, leaving a lasting impression on everyone present. The scene served as a testament to the compelling influence embedded in Yolanda’s creations, illustrating the unique power and allure of her designs.
IN the realm of marketing innovation, Yolanda Cellucci’s brilliant mind continued to shine. While on a quest for the perfect car, Yolanda stumbled upon an Excalibur that captivated her eye. Despite its hefty $45,000 price tag, there was an undeniable allure that she couldn’t ignore.
Simultaneously exploring advertising opportunities in the real estate sector, Yolanda ingeniously married the two pursuits. Acquiring the Excalibur, she transformed it into a mobile canvas, a moving billboard proudly adorned with a vanity license plate bearing her own name: “Yolanda.” This audacious move turned her into a conspicuous figure, the subject of town wide conversations, as her every drive became a captivating spectacle.
The advertising was also two-fold, as Yolanda also offered it as a way to pick up clients coming to her store increasing both her customer service and experience. Moreover, showcasing her foresight, Yolanda expanded her fleet to include an Excalibur limousine, extending this unique offering to brides on their special day.
Her inventive strategies, like the Excalibur itself, stand as a testament to her ceaseless ability to impress and intrigue, a legacy that endures to this day.
Yolanda Cellucci is a visionary. As an optimist, she skillfully wove together business models to craft a unique brand, intuitively attuned to the ever-evolving needs of women. Her approach, characterized by originality and authenticity, steered clear of gimmickry, establishing her as a trailblazer in her own right. Yolanda’s vision proved timeless, with the store flourishing for 41 years.
One of the most impressive things about Yolanda is that while she crafted her fashion empire and paved a way for women in business, she remained a committed wife and mother, with family always the most important area of her life.
Joyfully juggling the responsibilities of being a mom with her prosperous entrepreneurship, Yolanda instilled the same sense of grit and values early on in her own two children, Sondra and Linda, that her parents had impressed on her.
Yolanda laughs as she tells a cherished story about Linda as a little girl.
Linda, resistant to making her bed, prompted Yolanda to insist on the daily task, emphasizing its importance and her desire for Linda to take responsibility. To Yolanda’s surprise, morning after morning, she was astonished to find Linda attentively listening to her wish, diligently making her bed with pristine precision.
A revelation dawned a few days later when Yolanda discovered Linda’s creative adaptation of the request.
Instead of actually making the bed, Linda had ingeniously opted to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor, preserving the immaculate state of her beautifully arranged bed and adhering to her mother’s wish.
“She went by my rule, but I was wondering how she made it as perfect as I did!” expressed Yolanda. “She was a cute little thing in there all rolled up in her sleeping bag.”
Yolanda made her daughters a priority. She would pick them up from school and bring them to the shop, and always spend quality time with them on the weekends. Being around Yolanda’s line of work, naturally both of her daughters followed in her footsteps.
Sondra became a gown designer, and inherited her mother’s eye for design. Sondra, known for her crystal embellishments and captivating creations, won a contract with the New England Patriots Cheerleaders to update their iconic uniforms using thousands of glistening crystals. Sondra gave birth to Yolanda’s only grandduaghter, Milan.
Linda also followed in her mother’s footsteps into fashion, but as a model. She became a local legend on the catwalk for big department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Saks Fifth Avenue, and was also selected by renowned designer Oscar de la Renta as the lead model for his show in Boston. Linda was also a socialite who brightened any room she walked into, living life joyfully with a life that can only be described as beautiful inside and out. She married an incredible man named Sebuh, and gave Yolanda two more wonderful grandchildren, Dimitri and Alec.
Yolanda and her family lived a wonderful life. However, their lives changed drastically when Linda was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer.
Linda’s journey through the unexpected diagnosis of cancer was a challenging chapter that profoundly impacted Yolanda and her entire family. The diagnosis brought about a seismic shift in their lives, prompting them to navigate uncharted territories filled with hope, resilience, a will to fight, and a fierce determination to make every moment count.
Amidst the daunting challenges, Linda exhibited an extraordinary strength of spirit that left an indelible mark on those around her. Despite the gravity of her illness, Linda approached each day with unwavering positivity and a radiant smile that illuminated even the darkest moments. Her resilience became a source of inspiration for her family, transforming the struggle against cancer into a shared journey of love, support, and unity.
“I drove her almost every day for chemo,” said Yolanda. “She’d see a little lady sitting by herself and, even though she was sick, would get up, get her a cup of tea, and sit with the lady.”
“She’d come back to me and say ‘you know how lucky I am.’ I said Linda, ‘what do you mean you’re lucky,’ and she replied, ‘I have you to take me, but that little lady had to come by taxi since she doesn’t have anybody.’”
Yolanda, witnessing Linda’s unwavering optimism in the face of adversity, drew strength from her daughter’s remarkable positivity and courage. The experience prompted Yolanda to channel her grief after Linda passed away into a creative tribute that would honor Linda’s memory. In dedication to her daughter, Yolanda penned a heartwarming children’s book series titled “Lindy Lou,” a collection of tales that celebrated Linda’s zest for life, resilience, and the joy she brought to those around her.
Linda was known for dancing through life. She loved to dance and sing for dinner party guests at a young age, so Yolanda carried her joy for dancing through life into her inaugural children’s book of the “Lindy Lou” series.
“Linda loved to dance,” said Cellucci. “If she was here now she’d be talking, but dancing at the same time. If she was cooking, she would be dancing. She just truly loved to dance and loved people.”
The “Lindy Lou” series delved into Linda’s passion for modeling, depicting her journey through the glamorous world of fashion. Yolanda skillfully wove together the magic of storytelling and the real-life experiences of her daughter, allowing Linda’s story to unfold in the pages of the book. Readers, both young and old, were invited to glimpse into Linda’s world, sharing in the triumphs, challenges, and moments of sheer beauty that defined her modeling career.
“Lindy Lou” became more than just a children’s book series; it became a living tribute to Linda, a legacy woven into the fabric of family storytelling. Yolanda, through her creative endeavor, ensured that Linda’s stories continued to be shared, fostering a connection with younger generations who might not have had the opportunity to know Linda personally.
Yolanda also took great joy in spending time with her three wonderful grandchildren, Dimitri, Alec, and Milan.
“I gave up my whole social life on Saturday nights and Sundays to be with them, because that’s what I wanted to do,” said Yolanda. “And I loved it.”
During the formative years of her grandchildren, Yolanda imparted the timeless ethos that hard work yields rewards just like her own mother had to her. It became a beloved tradition for her grandchildren to stay over on the weekends and cook breakfast. Yet, in a twist that underscored the spirit of entrepreneurship, these child-crafted culinary delights were not without a price tag, as the industrious youngsters charged for their creations.
“They’d make menus,” said Yolanda. “Then in the morning, they would charge my husband and I a penny or two for the eggs and the toast.
“We bought the food now, but they’re charging us for it,” she recounted, with a laughing smile.
Another fond memory with her grandchildren has to do with Yolanda’s seemingly all white wardrobe. Yolanda is widely recognized for her stylish and glamorous fashion choices, particularly her penchant for wearing all-white outfits. This signature look has become a symbol of her refined taste and elegant presence. Whether attending events or making public appearances, Yolanda’s commitment to the classic and chic allure of an all-white wardrobe has established her as a fashion icon known for her timeless and sophisticated style.
As grandmothers do, Yolanda enjoyed taking her grandkids out to some of their favorite spots like Chuck E-Cheese. One afternoon, while wearing an all-white suit, the grandkids spilled coke all over her.
“They thought that was hilarious,” joked Yolanda. “I think the nice thing I like about it is now when we’re together, they’ll say, remember we did that. I enjoy these types of memories and it keeps me going and happy.”
Yolanda recently became a great-grandmother, and it has given her a whole new perspective on life.
“The highlight of my life is being a great grandmother,” said Yolanda. “It was wonderful having grandkids, but now, to see Dimtri have a little girl, she reminds me so much of Linda. She’s so precious.”
Dimitri and his wife Kristen’s daughter is named Celine Linda, to commemorate his late mother.
Amidst Yolanda’s remarkable achievements, she has encountered profound personal tragedies through the loss of her daughter and, more recently, her husband Daniel. However, she chooses to approach each day optimistically as a new opportunity and keeps their legacies alive.
“God gave me another day, what can I do with this day,” said Yolanda. “I lost my husband, lost my daughter, but if that’s what happens that’s what happens. You can’t change it so why make everybody else unhappy. I think when you do things for others it can pick people up or help them in some way to get better. I know what it did for Linda.”
AT 89, Yolanda continues to thrive every day and looks as fabulous as ever living up to her “Goddess of Glitz” title. She hosts her own cable access show, makes a difference philanthropically in the community, and for the past two years since her husband passed, she has even spent her free time teaching herself how to play the piano.
In the ever-evolving currents of Boston’s fashion identity, Yolanda Cellucci remains a luminary, not merely for her contributions to style but for the enduring legacy of love, resilience, and family that she leaves behind.