Jan 23, 2017

#68 Dateline Paperdollywood - Debbie Reynolds, Fashion Icons, Silent Screen Stars, Feminine Fashion, Broadway Coloring, Dandy Dressing, Fave Film Fashion

My Debbie Reynolds Memory

The passing of Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, stirred up memories of the perky mother and her complex offspring. HBO quickly streamed Bright Lights, a look inside the lives and fascinating relationship of the famous mother-daughter duo. I recalled my own personal “appearance” decades ago on stage with Debbie when she performed her hugely successful one-woman show at London’s famed Palladium Theatre. I had a front row seat. Debbie was delightful, singing, dancing and casually chatting about her life and career. She pointed me out to the audience, saying she “loved men with beards” and then she invited me to join her on the stage. Being a bit of a stage-struck ham, I jumped right up. We exchanged a few sentences and she sang a song to me. I cannot remember the song, but I will never forget Debbie’s warmth and her talent. Years later, I refreshed my memory of her when I created a Debbie Reynolds paper doll book, authorized by the star herself, published by Jenny Taliadoros’ Paper Studio Press and still available from paperdollreview.com.

Debbie Reynolds
My Debbie Reynolds authorized Paper Doll Book.

Icon/Actress/Paper Doll

Two true fashion icons of the past are in the present, the subjects of new bio-pics. Both have been glamorized by the casting and coincidentally, I have created paper dolls of both in the recent past. Queen Elizabeth II is being profiled in The Crown, an ambitious multi-season Netflix production depicting her long reign. Currently playing Her Majesty as a young monarch is lovely Claire Foy (who only vaguely resembles the Queen), but other actresses will assume the role for subsequent years of her life. My paper doll of the young Queen was the dress-a-doll for a royal issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine. The other icon is Jackie Kennedy, portrayed on the movie screen by Natalie Portman who is beautiful but more delicate and possibly more cerebral than the legendary First Lady. The movie costumes are close to being authentic but Ms. Portman really should have been given a wig to replicate that famous bouffant coiffure. My Jackie paper doll is paired with Princess Diana in Fashion Icons, available from paperdollreview.com

Queen Elizabeth II, Claire Foy as the Queen and my paper doll from Paper Doll Studio's Queens issue. 

Jackie Kennedy Fashion Icon Paper Doll cutout
Jackie Kennedy, Natalie Portman as First Lady and my “Fashion Icons” paper doll.

Presenting Silent Screen Stars Paper Dolls

My next paper doll book for Paper Studio Press is well underway. It is volume number 5 in the series of my history of Hollywood fashions. “Silent Screen Stars” will feature six dolls who exemplify the distinct and specific fashion images of early motion pictures. Greta Garbo was passionate, Mary Pickford was “America’s Sweetheart” and Gloria Swanson exuded glamour. Lillian Gish was fragile, Louise Brooks was sophisticated and Clara Bow had “It.” Here are the portraits that will become the heads of the dolls that will be cut-out and dressed in costumes from the classic silent pictures that were worth a thousand words. 

Silent Screen Stars Paper Dolls
Silent Screen Stars Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford and Gloria Swanson. 

Silent Screen Stars Paper Dolls
Silent Screen Stars Lillian Gish, Louise Brooks and Clara Bow.

Fragile Femininity in Fashion

Does fashion define the modern woman of today? It depends on the woman. Hillary’s ubiquitous pantsuits define her and Madonna’s dominatrixery makes a statement, too. The runway shows previewing spring’s in-coming fashions offered many different attempts to define femininity. One prevailing trend is fragile and delicate, a vision of ruffles, lace and sheer fabrics, a somewhat saccharine vision of a creature apt to swoon. Are such Valentine fashion designs a real reflection of modern femininity? Or are they a faux declaration of delicacy or an empowering subversive statement? 

Bora Aksu, Erdem, John Galliano.

Molly Goddard, Simone Rocha, Valentino.

Rolling Out the Red Carpet (again!)

Trend spotting at a Hollywood Red Carpet event is like shooting fish in a barrel. Correction. Make that mermaids in a barrel. The sirens of the screen preen and pose as they self-promote in hopes of scoring a Golden Globe awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a rather small, but influential group. The fashion industry scrutinizes the star parade, desperately seeking a new trend, or at least a confirmation that glamour still stirs fashion consumers’ interest and envy. The stars wear gowns from the recent spring ’17 collections, a perfect example of “buy now/wear now” except they don’t buy, they borrow. That’s not always wise. For example, Kerry Washington’s fancy fabric, over-trimmed and awkward length dress by Dolce & Gabbana may have looked great on a tall model, but tiny Kerry couldn’t carry it off. The Golden Globes Red Carpet confirms the current state of fashion in the real world: No big change, no new general direction, but so many options that it’s easy to fabricate a trend or two. Sex appeal is mandatory, of course. Flesh is flashed with wide open, plunging necklines, cold shoulders, bare backs and a few bare midriffs. Jessica Biel, Kristin Bell, Drew Barrymore, Rosamund Pike and Sarah Jessica Parker took the plunge. Glittery glamour abounds and metallics continue to rule, most often silvery as seen on Ruth Negga, but more directional in color like the shimmering rose worn by Claire Foy. Metallic looked newest when splashed delicately onto sheer fabrics as seen on Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone and Sofia Vergara. Silhouettes are varied with slinky movie star form-fitting basics getting less attention than a few extremely full skirts worn by Lily Collins, Janelle Monae and Chrissy Teigen. Black is still playing it safe but not making news. Head-turning color included Viola Davis in bright yellow, Natalie Portman in yellow-green, Brie Larson in dark red, Jessica Chastain in sky blue and Zoe Saldana in hot pink and vivid rose. Of course, designer names are dropped and most are familiar. It’s no surprise that the few creations by red hot, right now Alessandro Michele of Gucci attracted the attention of every trend-sensitive fashionista watching this, the first of the Awards shows…more to follow. 

Rich metallic on Ruth Negga, Sarah Paulson and Annette Bening. 

Sparkle-sprinkled sheers on Nicole Kidman, Emma Stone and Sofia Vergara.

Flashes of flesh on Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristen Bell.

Color on Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, and Jessica Chastain.

Romantic glamour on Zoe Saldana, Lily Collins and Claire Foy.

Coloring Broadway Musicals

My compulsion to colorize continues, but this month I have temporarily abandoned vintage movie star coloring books for a new book, “Color Me Broadway,” drawn by Brian Kelly. It includes scenes from most of the classic Broadway musicals: Showboat, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, On the Town, Mame and many more. The book is illustrated in a somewhat crude style that calls out for crayons or colored pencils (my choice). My copy was a gift from my friend, Sharry O’Hare. It is published by BrooklynArtDept.com and is widely available on line, price $15.

Color Me Broadway” cover and “Hello, Dolly!” 

“My Fair Lady” and “Guys & Dolls” 

New England Dandy is Dangerous!

If you think of the well-dressed English gentleman as a neat and natty modern Beau Brummell, a Jane Austen hero, think again. The London Men’s Fashion Week previewing fall ’17 style suggestions abandoned English elegance in favor of an apocalyptic action man dressed to do battle in a Marvel Comic dark metropolis. The male models were examples of the current anorexic androgynous lads, but when bundled up in massively oversize, aggressively militant and athletically inspired outfits, they seemed larger-than-life. Strong, manly overcoats and casual jackets were overwhelmingly sized with plenty of room to slip over relaxed jackets and pullover knits. Pants grew wider and wider, slouchy rather than pleated. Almost every collection included a big, bulky statement sweater. The inspiration for much of the exaggerated styling was the street where young men dress in a mix of modes, military and/or athletic plus jeanswear. Jogging suits and bomber jackets are popular. Black remains a staple color but there is a splendid assortment of accent colors, sometimes bright and bold, but occasionally light, too. Styling continues to be as important as design and there are sometimes discordant collisions of color, fabric and design in mad mixes. 

Survival style by Christopher Raeburn, Craig Green, KTZ. 

Overwhelming overcoats by Casely-Hayford, Joseph, JW Anderson.

Sweater statements by Vivienne Westwood, JW Anderson, Topman.

New blue jeans by Topman, Christopher Shannon, Miharayasuhiro.

Modern ease by E.Tautz, Chalayan, Martine Rose.

Fave Film Fashion on YouTube

“Fave Film Fashion.” That’s the title of a fabulous new YouTube series by my talented daughter, Professor Amanda Hallay. The weekly series of short films are a spin-off of her popular The Ultimate Fashion History channel on YouTube. Each film in this new series is devoted to the costumes and style in one of Amanda’s favorite vintage films like Imitation of Life, Double Indemnity, Taxi Driver and White Christmas. Every week, Amanda explains and explores in her own authoritative and amusing style, the important role that costumes play in so many films. She points out design details and fascinating fashion factoids about the stars and designers whose style illuminated so many great films. If you’re a movie fan and a fashionista, you’re sure to enjoy “Fave Film Fashion” on YouTube. 

Fave Film Fashion
Imitation of Life” Fave Film Fashion on YouTube 

Fave Film Fashion Series
Double Indemnity” Fave Film Fashion on YouTube. 

Dec 20, 2016

#67 Dateline Paperdollywood - Christmas Windows, Trendsetting Trend Forecasters, Goofy Guy Fashions, Brides, Jim Howard, FIT

Holiday Window Wonderland!

Macy’s estimates that 10,000 people every hour pass its crowd-pleasing holiday windows. This year, they are framed with silver-lined clouds that encourage Love, Giving, Believe, Magic and Celebrate. Their side windows repeat the charming story about Virginia believing in Santa Claus and the back windows demonstrate how letters to Santa are sorted at the North Pole. Lord & Taylor’s theme is devoted to an enchanted forest with foxes, reindeer and owls in a fanciful snowy landscape. Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows are filled with sweets including marshmallow mice, sugarplum fairies, gingerbread puppets and lots and lots of giant candy and cakes. Bloomingdale’s windows are illuminated by one-of-a-kind chandeliers created by talented artists. After the holidays, the unique creations will be auctioned to benefit the Child Mind Institute. Elegant Bergdorf-Goodman has chosen a jungle theme that is dramatic but not looking anything like Christmas. Another not-so-Christmas attraction drawing crowds is the street scene in front of Trump Tower; barricades, squad cars, armed guards and TV reporters hoping for breaking news. 


Lord & Taylor 

Saks Fifth Avenue



Ah yes, I remember it well...

In the late 1960s, throughout the ‘70s and into the early ‘80s, I lived in London and worked with a visionary woman, Leigh Rudd, whose company, IM International gave birth to fashion trend reporting. Decades passed. Our lives and careers took us down different paths, but we recently reconnected. Leigh’s main interest now is developing an exciting film project using our fashion history as the setting. She arranged to have a videographer film a conversation between the two of us reminiscing and explaining how “fashion trending” as it is now known, came about. That conversation has been edited into a string of very short segments now available for viewing on YouTube. Click here to to access the videos.

David and Leigh Rudd in the ‘70s and ‘80s 

Do any guys want to look this goofy?

No! So then why do some designers send nutty outfits down the runway? For years, I’ve been critical of womenswear designers who get carried away into madness and now menswear designers are starting to stumble down the same route. Here’s the kicker. The media loves it! Crazy outfits create a buzz on facebook, twitter, snapchat and youtube. Evidently it’s true that some people think any publicity is good publicity, forget about taste, style and just plain common sense. 

Comme des Garcons, Haider Ackermann, Gypsy Sport 

JW Anderson, Rick Owens, KTZ

Thom Browne, Juun J, Balmain

Portrait of a Young Man

Seldom do I have the opportunity to create a “serious” work of art. Paper dolls are puff pieces that bring me joy, pure fun and escape into a bygone world of vintage movies, beautiful stars and lovely costumes. Recently some of the sketches I produce in a weekly life-drawing class were exhibited and I was contacted by the person who bought one and wondered if I would consider doing a portrait of him. I accepted, sight unseen. I lucked out. Daniel Ryan Bennett turned out to be a perfect subject for me, a contemporary version of a retro-handsome Arrow Collar Man, so that nostalgic image became my inspiration and the portrait successfully captured him (coincidentally he’s studying at the same college where my daughter teaches). 

David’s portrait of Daniel Ryan Bennett 

Dressed to Say "I do."

My forthcoming paper doll book for Paper Studio Press, “Hollywood Gets Married,” is ready to go to press. My final step before sending it off to computer whiz Pierre in the UK and to publisher Jenny Taliadoros is for me to color-copy and cut-out the clothes for a preliminary fitting. (Alina Kolluri does the exacting final fitting.) It’s always a thrill to see the dolls dressed, the fruition of many weeks of work. This book contains three dolls to wear 31 bridal outfits ranging from Elizabeth Taylor’s two traditional gowns in 1950 to Brigitte Bardot’s humble pink gingham ‘60s frock, from Jeanette MacDonald’s blush pink Adrian creation to Rita Hayworth’s bridal blue dress and cartwheel hat by Jacques Fath. Here are some of the wonderful wedding looks included in the book that will be published in 2017. 

Worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Jeanette MacDonald and Elizabeth Taylor
Worn by Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor and Rita Hayworth

Worn by Julie Andrews, Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn

Worn by Grace Kelly, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe

Continuing the Coloring Craze

The stress-relieving benefits of the pleasant pastimes, coloring with crayons or pencils is wildly popular these days. My own interest in the trend is not to color-in complex, very busy motifs that would make me nervous. Instead, I’m enjoying the nostalgia of vintage movie star coloring books that I’ve collected over the years. Some are not in good condition, but their frayed edges and yellowed paper don’t reduce my enjoyment. This month, I colored pages from a damaged Doris Day book (copyrighted by the star herself) printed in 1953 and again in ’56. The cover photo was taken during a brief period when Doris’ usually natural eyebrows seemed ready to take wing, rather like the tail fins of automobiles in the ‘50s. 

Doris Day in the ‘50s, book cover and colored page.

Christmas themed pages that I colored.

Getting to Know Jim Howard via YouTube 

The paper doll community is peopled with a great many interesting collectors and artists. One of the most interesting is Jim Howard, famed as the leading American fashion illustrator in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His instantly recognizable style made him a star artist for several top fashion retailers in New York City. Jim is a friendly gentleman of elegant style and great charm. He has created many paper doll books available from Paperdoll Review and every one of them is a collectible work of art. If you’ve never been lucky enough to meet him in person, you can get to know him via several interviews available on YouTube. Here are two links…

Paper Doll Books by Famed Illustrator, Jim Howard

Color or Black-and-White?

I’m working on the cover for my next book, Volume 5 in the series, “David Wolfe’s History of Hollywood Fashion.” The six paper dolls featured in “Silent Star Style” are Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Greta Garbo, Louise Brooks, Gloria Swanson and Lillian Gish, all great stars of the silent era. The drawing I’m executing for the cover depicts a cameraman, a director and an overly dramatic actress. I’ve done two versions, one in black-and-white with shades of gray (as were most early silent movies) and one in full color (that may get more attention). I’m undecided. Which do you prefer? Drop me an email and help me choose. 

Possible Cover Art in Full Color

Possible Cover Art in Black-and-White

Black Fashion Designers at FIT

The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) in Manhattan has just mounted a well-curated exhibition charting the contribution to fashion made by designers of African-American heritage. Is it necessary today to racially profile fashion designers? Apparently, yes, although FIT acknowledges that the “nomenclature is limiting.” The content of the exhibit is impressive and makes one wonder why of all the designers covered by VogueRunway.com, only 1% are black. The exhibition is divided into nine sections, a challenge given the small space in the ground floor gallery. First, there is an introduction group that displays a wealth of designer talent including Laura Small’s dress worn by Michelle Obama. Then a display devoted to “Breaking into the Business” is followed by “The Rise of the Black Designer.” Patrick Kelly and Willi Smith became household names, but not many others. Another display is devoted to the Black models who for a fashion moment ruled the runways internationally. A short video interview with several of them plays continuously. A section called “Street Influences” brings the major menswear story into the picture, demonstrating (moreso than the womenswear) the massive importance of the black male role model. The final exhibit is devoted to “Activism” supported by graphic messages imprinted on t-shirts. 

Unsung talents are given their due. A 1968 bridal gown by Ann Lowe is a reminder that she dressed debutantes and made Jacqueline Bouvier’s wedding gown. Zelda Wynn Valdes created the now-quaint Playboy Bunny hourglass “uniform” (with ears!) The long overdue, very worthwhile and enlightening exhibition is open until May 16, 2017. 

Textiles and fabric treatments reference African artisans. 

Ann Lowe wedding gown, Patrick Kelly button trim, cape ensemble by Duro Olowu.

Tracy Reese, Playboy uniform by Zelda Wynn Valdez, activist t-shirts

Nov 23, 2016

#66 Dateline Paperdollywood - Groom Paper Doll, Heart Fashions, Lingerie, Amanda Hallay, Debbie Reynolds, GQ Paper Doll

Here comes the Groom, too!

My new “Hollywood Gets Married” paper doll book for Paper Studio Press has three models to wear the bridal fashions, but they have to share one groom. He’s tall, dark and handsome and bears a striking resemblance to vintage heart throb Tyrone Power. I’ve paired him with a doll wearing Grace Kelly’s beautiful gown designed by Helen Rose, a gift from the studio. Following are two pages of fashions from the forthcoming book featuring 21 bridal outfits, some from the movies and others from real-life movie star weddings. 

The Groom Paper Doll and The Happy Paper Doll Couple 
Two pages of Hollywood Wedding Fashions.

Look Ma, No Hands!

Form follows function is an old adage that has always guided designers. But it’s a rule that fashion designers sometimes discard, unwisely. That’s the case of the latest craze, extra-long sleeves that cover one’s hands. It started with designer Demna Gvasalia’s own label, Vetements which is so hot that he was chosen to direct Balenciaga, too. Now more than a few lesser designers have picked-up the idea. There’s no trick to it, but doesn’t everybody need to use their hands, especially the iphone addicts? Will this craze spread? Don’t be surprised if it does. There are plenty of precedents, impractical fashions that should never have happened: the hoopskirt, the bustle, the corset, long-leg pantie girdles, sky-high stiletto heels, towering platforms, cartwheel hats, etc. 

Vetements, Y-Project, Maison Margiela

DKNY, DKNY, Sharon Wauchob
UMB, Vetements, Marques Almeida

Heartfelt Fashion

No need to wait until Valentine’s Day to wear your heart on your sleeve, or more likely on your bodice. That all-time great symbol of romance sweetened several outfits on the runways of the spring ’17 collections. 

Gucci, Fausto Puglisi, Proenza Schouler. 

Rodarte, Y-Project, Christian Dior.

Lovely Lingerie Looks

It used to be considered a major fashion faux pas if a lady’s slip showed even an inch below the hem of her skirt. Times have changed a lot! The spring ’17 designer collections revealed what used to be hidden with new versions of the lace-trimmed slip dress. At Chanel, almost every outfit immodestly showed a sheer slip contrasting with a tweedy jacket and a baseball cap (worn sideways, rapper-style). 

Chanel, Chanel, Rodarte

Marques Almeida, Martin Margiela, Rodarte

All in the Family

My day job as a Fashion Trend Forecaster keeps me busy covering runway shows and retail business as well as writing. But my favorite aspect of my job is to create and present lectures about how fashion is constantly changing. My daughter, Amanda Hallay, is a professor in Manhattan at LIM College “where business meets fashion.” She teaches fashion history and pop culture and creates powerpoint presentations that are fun as well as informative. Her YouTube series, Ultimate Fashion History, has more than 5,000 subscribers. She and a colleague, Terry Coffee, are preparing to market themselves as “Fashion Professors on the Go,” offering their expertise to colleges around the world. They asked me to do some illustrations for their website and I thoroughly enjoyed creating a portrait sketch of them both and several fashion sketches. If you would like to view Amanda's lecture series or learn more about her career and her services, visit her website, amandahallay.com

Amanda Hallay and Terry Coffee, Fashion Professors to Go

Runway view of a Fashion Show

Gay ‘90s, 1950s and 1920s Sketches

Coloring a Vintage Star

I’m continuing to take a bit of time each month to relax and color a few pages in my collection of vintage movie star coloring books. Sure, the cheap paper they were originally printed on has mellowed to yellow and that affects the crayon colors, but I think it adds to the potent nostalgic that I experience when coloring. This month’s star book subject is Debbie Reynolds, the energetic cutie whose wholesome personality was perfect for the ‘50s and early ’60s. My coloring book was published by Whitman in 1953 and I like it very much because the artwork really captures Debbie’s likeness (not always the case in coloring books). I chose to color three pages that make a fashion statement. 

1953 Coloring Book Cover and page crayoned by me.

Even the girl next door dressed-up occasionally.

Surprise GQ PD pops up

Paper dolls sometimes make surprising appearances. The November issue of GQ men’s magazine includes a humorous male paper doll with three outfits as tongue in cheek advice suggesting what a guy should wear on a first date. The artist: Mark Anthony Green. 

Cartoony male paper doll in GQ Magazine.