Sep 25, 2016

#64 Dateline Paperdollywood - Dancing Stars, TV Fashion Exhibition, Menswear, Technicolor Coloring, Fashion Week, Paper Dolls on Runway

Dressed for Dancing!

“Dancing Stars,” the companion to my soon to be released “Singing Stars” paper doll book, is in the final stages of preparation for printing and both books will be available in February from Paper Studio Press. The dancing dolls are six legendary vintage movie star dancers: Ann Miller, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Eleanor Powell, Leslie Caron and Cyd Charisse. I’ve chosen a pose for each doll that captures her dancing style and unique body language. That means the costumes look as if the dolls are dancing and bring to mind scenes from great musical movies such as An American in Paris, The Band Wagon, Born to Dance, Easter Parade and Cover Girl. Following is a preview of the Dancing Stars in some costumes from their unforgettable dancing scenes on the silver screen.

Ann Miller
Ann Miller in Lovely to Look At, Hit the Deck, Easter Parade.
Betty Grable
Betty Grable in Down Argentine Way, Moon Over Miami, Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend.
Cyd Charisse
Cyd Charisse in Singing in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Brigadoon.

 Leslie Caron
Leslie Caron in three costumes from An American in Paris.

Eleanor Powell
Eleanor Powell in Broadway Melody of ’36, Born to Dance, Broadway Melody of ’38.

Fabulous TV Fashion Exhibition

The 10th Annual Costume Design Exhibition at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in Los Angeles features 23 shows including eight Emmy nominees. I thoroughly enjoyed touring the exhibition of over 100 pieces that underscore how television production is now equal to motion pictures and the TV costumes now rival the creativity of the big studio era. I was delighted that my favorite series, Outlander, was nominated for Period/Fantasy Series. Also nominated in that category were Game of Thrones, Roots and of course, Downton Abbey. Whether contemporary fashions or period pieces, the costumes seem to almost bring the characters to life, even though the mannequins are painted stark white and wearing paper wigs. All the costumes are grouped show-by-show against plain white backgrounds that allowed me to appreciate close-up the workmanship, vision and artistry of the talented designers and craftspeople working in the current Golden Age of Television. The impressive exhibition, free admission, is open through October 15th at The FIDM Museum & Galleries, 919 South Grand Ave. at 9th Street, Los Angeles 90015. 213-623-5821.


Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones 
Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey and Scream Queens

ManMode: Dressing the Male Ego

Also on display at the FIDM Museum is a small, but interesting exhibition of menswear demonstrating the fact that some men like fashion as much as women. The tightly-edited examples of peacock fare have been plucked from three centuries of high style and range from an 18th century dandy to a Victorian aesthete and a Punk. Also included are a ‘40s swim set, a ‘70s maxi-coat, a futuristic silver jumpsuit and a curious inflatable suit as well as a display of kitschy hand-painted neckties. 

Punk, ‘40s and Victorian

Hand-painted Vintage Neckties.

Crayons as do-it-yourself Technicolor

Last month I shared some of my vintage movie star coloring books and enjoyed coloring a few pages so much that I decided to continue coloring and sharing in this newsletter/blog. I have a small collection of vintage coloring books. A few are totally un-colored (…yet!). Most of my collection was colored-in when I bought them, others have some un-colored pages. One such book is “Jane Powell,” beautifully drawn and published in 1951 by Whitman. I had forgotten that my book was personally autographed for me by the star herself when she was the guest at a paper doll convention several years ago. She was delightful. As I colored three pages I was reminded of how much thought I gave as a little boy in choosing the “right” colors for every outfit, agonizing over decisions of what colors looked good together. Little did I know that one day my career would have me making the same sort of color decisions when I produced a fashion industry trend forecast. No wonder I do believe in destiny.

Jane Powell

Jane Powell
Jane Powell Coloring Book with three pages recently crayoned by me. 

Enough, already! This trend is too much!

The eternal quest for something new in fashion is getting desperate, searching in vain for a leader, a Poiret, a Chanel, a Dior.  An industry based on playing follow-the-leader is without a great leader, a creative genius with a strong point of view that could influence every designer as Christian Dior’s “New Look” did in 1947.  Oh, there are plenty of pretenders and the press seems unable to spot a scam stylist, a fashion fraud.  Currently being worshipped by the fashionista flock are several designers who are leading other designers astray.  Alessandro Michele, the designer for Gucci, has started a growing trend that must have Coco Chanel spinning in her grave.  The trend is just too much.  A cacophony of color!  A mash-up of fabrics! A deluge of decoration! An assault of accessories!  It takes no talent to over-decorate, to keep adding elements (the more disparate, the better) until it is nothing more than a big mess.  Then once the dastardly design is done, photograph it in a setting that upsets every aesthetic aspiration.  It’s time for fashion to start showing a bit of restraint.

Gucci Ad Campaign 
Prada Ad Campaign
Dolce & Gabbana Ad Campaign

It's Been Reigning Men in LA

Just finishing its very successful exhibit at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) was “Reigning Men,” (Get the joke reference to the disco hit?) It was an impressive, history-making array of 200 pieces of menswear ranging from 1715-2015. This probably biggest-ever museum exhibition of menswear was displayed in six large galleries forming a dramatic architectural setting designed by Steven Johanknecht and Roman Alonso of a local design studio, Commune. 

 The comprehensive exhibition was divided into themes, rather than chronology. Revolution/Evolution contrasted the Punk, Biker, Zoot Suits and Oxford Bags to the continuum of classic tailored clothing. East/West displayed a breathtaking array of exotic fabrics that became robes, pajamas and smoking jackets. Uniformity encompassed military and civilian uniforms ranging from historic dragoon redcoats to Ralph Lauren Westernwear. Body Conscious examined fit and cut of clothing extremes. The Splendid Man displayed lavish looks in luxurious fabrics. Themed galleries mixed centuries of menswear together to demonstrate recurring forces in the surprisingly fashion-conscious male psyche. 

Touring the dramatic presentation puts to rest any idea that men have no sense of style and care little about fashion. Just the opposite! The only dubious aspect of the entertaining and interesting exhibition was that it featured so many recent outfits that were creations made for the runway, never worn by a real man living a real life. Many of the more current items honored designers known for their creative eccentricity; Thom Browne, Walter Von Bierendonck, Jeremy Scott, Rick Owens. Far more interesting are the antiques actually wore by real-life dandies in the past, the extravagant extremes from the 18th and 19th centuries, intricate embroideries and exaggerated silhouettes. Although the exhibition has closed, there is a well-done, colorful, companion book available at a special price under $40.00 from It is entitled Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015. 

The menswear exhibits at two museums in Los Angeles coincided with the new menswear-themed issue of OPDAG's Paper Doll Studio magazine. It has 64 glossy pages in full color, most of the issue devoted to menswear with dozens of outfits for the male dress-a-doll by Ted Menten, plus an article from me about famous dandies with a paper doll of Stewart Granger as Beau Brummel. It’s a really special issue (but aren’t they all?). I hope you’re a subscriber. If not, go to for information.  

Zoot Suit, Punk, Oxford Bags and Knickerbockers. 

Dragoon Uniform, Regency Buck and Riding Habit.

18th Century Extravagant Dandy Dressing.

Attention-getting Get-Ups caption.

Stewart Granger
My paper doll of Stewart Granger as Beau Brummell for the Menswear issue of Paper Doll Studio Magazine.

New York Fashion Week Sampler

More than 100 fashion shows were jammed into the calendar as designers launched their spring ’17 looks. What’s new? Everything…and nothing. Every designer is going his or her own way, so anything goes. Everything from wild crazy to soignée sophistication. Here’s just a sample of the variety show on the New York runways.

Alexander Wang, Thom Browne, Carolina Herrera 
Jason Wu, Michael Kors, Delpozo 
Victoria Beckham, DKNY, Tory Burch
Zimmermann, Proenza Schouler, Marc Jacobs
Monse, Marchesa, Diane Von Furstenberg
J.Crew, Elizabeth and James, Coach 1941 
Libertine, Kate Spade and Anna Sui 

See Now/Buy & Wear Now Shakes Up Shows

New York Fashion Week kicked off the spring ’17 season by launching a startling new trend. Common sense. A few savvy designers dared to challenge the accepted timetable that stages runway showings of clothes 4 or 5 months before they can be seen in stores and purchased. Creative designers bemoan the lag because today’s internet-driven instant communication means that originality can be readily copied before their designs ever reach a store. Consumers hate the schedule because they want to see it now, buy it now and wear it now. And finally, at long last, they can do just that… but only from a few ground-breaking designers. 

Tom Ford presented his See Now/Buy & Wear Now luxe collection of fall-ish looks to his usual glamorous A+ guest list. The clothes were available online immediately after the show and the following day in stores. Ralph Lauren showed his fall collection of 46 looks last February, as usual. Those clothes were delivered to stores in August. On September 14, he staged two big outdoor shows that shut-down a block of busy Madison Avenue. He showed 45 new-and-different fall looks to fashion industry folk and to consumers who could buy the new looks immediately. Alexander Wang launched his new Adidas capsule collection of premium streetwear from a special shop-in-a-truck, generating so much buzz that customers were limited to buying four items. Even so, the truck was emptied quickly. Wang’s 84-piece uni-sex collection was included in his runway show later. Tommy Hilfiger transformed a pier into a carnival complete with ferris wheel, tornado ride, hot dogs and burgers. 

Oh yes, there was a show of Tommy’s 46-piece collection created with hot model GiGi Hadid. (The core fall collection had already been shown to buyers and press in January and February.) The clothes, shown on two parallel runways (one for the industry, the other for the public) were immediately available, post show via all current techno-channels that included shopping assistance from a bot programmed to answer 7,000 questions. Other designers who also offered some immediately accessible fashions included Thakoon, Rebecca Minkoff and Yeezy. It seems obvious that common sense will prevail and more designers will follow suit. See Now/Buy & Wear Now. It’s a good idea whose time is finally arriving.

Tommy Hilfiger’s Pier Carnival and Model Gigi Hadid. 

Tom Ford’s Instantly Available Deluxe Glamour. 

Ralph Lauren’s Western-flavored Traffic-stoppers.

Life-size Paper Doll Fashions on the Runway

Jeremy Scott is a Pop culture maven and designer of the Italian Moschino collection. For his spring ’17 collection, he created life-size paper doll clothes and accessories (with tabs,of course) and sent them down the Milan runway on real live models. Will the 2-D pd fashions really make it to the stores? The 2-D printed jewelry, handbags and hats might well appeal to fashionistas with a sense of humor. Fashion takes itself seriously and the designer explained his conceptual thinking. “I guess you could call it Valley of the Paper Dolls,” Scott laughed backstage after the show. “I wanted to play with how we’re starting to really live our lives through apparatuses [like] iPhones. A lot of our life now is two dimensional because it literally appears on a screen. We try to create a façade of how our lives really are, and it becomes all-consuming.” Serious or silly, paper doll artists and collectors are sure to get a kick out of this wacky way to put paper dolls into the media spotlight. 

Paper Dolls

Paper Dolls
Paper Doll 2-D printed fashions for spring ’17 by Jeremy Scott for Moschino.

Aug 26, 2016

#63 Dateline Paperdollywood - Singing Stars, Classic Hollywood Coloring Books, Unreal Fashions, Paris Haute Couture, European Menswear

Singing Stars All Dressed Up!

Volume 3 of my on-going series of paper doll books, “David Wolfe’s History of Hollywood Fashions” is now in the final stages of preparation for printing. Singing Stars paper dolls and their costumes celebrate some of the most popular songstresses ready to wear their most fashion-conscious creations. Judy Garland’s wardrobe from A Star is Born. Barbra Streisand’s period pieces from Hello, Dolly! Doris Day’s debut costumes from Romance on the High Seas. Alice Faye’s gay ‘90s gowns from Hello Frisco Hello. Shirley Jones’ vintage Americana from Oklahoma! Lena Horne’s sultry style from Cabin in the Sky. Seeing the dolls seem to come to life in their finished fashions, cut-out and tabbed into place, is such fun. Here are some of the Singing Stars fashion plates. 
Judy in Easter Parade and A Star is Born.
Alice in Lillian Russell and Hello Frisco Hello.
Doris in Romance on the High Seas and Love Me or Leave Me.
Lena in ’Til the Clouds Roll By, Broadway Rhythm and Words and Music.
Shirley in The Music Man and Oklahoma!
Barbra in Hello Dolly! and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Color Me Nostalgic!

At the recent Phoenix Paper Doll Convention, I did NOT win a prize that I coveted in the raffle, even though I bought plenty of tickets. I was unlucky and did not score a 1944 Greer Garson Coloring Book in mint, un-colored condition. Like all losers, I moaned a bit. Back home a few weeks later, a large box arrived. In it was a Greer Garson Coloring Book AND a 1942 Bette Davis AND two 1942 Rita Hayworth books. All had a few pages inside that had been crayoned by youngsters just learning how to stay in the lines. I found that absolutely charming and loved the idea of continuing the books’ lifespan by coloring some of the uncolored pages myself. I wondered who had sent the books as there was no return address except e-bay, no note, no card. A few days later, the sender of the surprise confessed. Jenny Taliadoros! What a wonderful friend she is to me! Thank you, Jenny… and I promise to stay in the lines. Here is a look at the lavish covers, a page colored by the previous owners long ago and some examples of my own Crayola coloring expertise. 

Greer Garson Vintage Coloring Book
My Coloring Greer Garson 
Bette Davis Vintage Coloring Book 
My Coloring Bette Davis
Rita Hayworth Vintage Coloring Book 
My Coloring Rita Hayworth 

Try and Try Again!

Sometimes artwork just doesn’t work. It’s interesting to see how a second attempt, or even a third, will result in obvious improvements. I think of every re-paint as an opportunity to improve, and subsequent attempts are inevitably better than the first version. In Hello Frisco Hello, Alice Faye wears a stunning black and white outfit inspired by the turn-of-the-century; a long white dress trimmed with delicate black lace appliques, accessorized with a sideways cartwheel hat and a black and white feather boa. The applique was a challenge to render, but it was the boa that drove me to distraction. Ostrich feathers are difficult to draw, even more so when half black and half white. I rejected the first version because the feathers looked like long-haired fur and the second reject because the white got too grayed. Finally, on the third try, the ostrich looked frothy and I was happy. Of course, doing three versions meant that I also had to thrice draw those fancy lace appliques…but they got better with each try, too! 

Reject 1, Reject 2, Third-time lucky.

Some People Get It... Others Never Will 

Fashion is always changing because it is a reflection of the ever-changing society that wears it. Fashion right now is undergoing a seismic shift and many of those who follow it simply do not understand what is happening. Most fashion magazines, for example, are totally out of touch. In a recent issue of Elle, the main feature was entitled “Get Real” but it didn’t. Elle stated, “Far from the catwalk, fall’s greatest hits prove that capital F fashion really does work in the “real” world—yes, even in the burbs,” but in the photos were unreal clothes that will never be seen in any burbs, anywhere. Meanwhile, in an interview promoting the new AbFab movie, actress Joanna Lumley got it right when she said, “There used to be a look in the shoe or the shirt or something that was ‘the look’ and that is kind of gone, and now you have to do it yourself. I think it’s both good and, in a funny way, sad because you will never see someone that looks the height of fashion in the street. You can think they look great but not ‘in fashion’.” Joanna may play a crackpot fashionista, but in real life she understands that fashion today is truly getting real. 

Elle’s idea of Getting Real is absolutely Unreal.
AbFab Actress Joanna Lumley as Patsy Stone and as her real self. 

Paris Haute Couture: Lost Fashion Direction

The recent semi-annual showing of custom-made creations in Paris clearly demonstrates the collections that once dictated fashion direction for women the world over are now impotent. There are plenty of designers you’ve probably never heard of showing meaningless assortments lacking a style GPS to head them in the right direction instead of any-and-every direction. Only Chanel, Dior and Valentino retain clout, focus and leadership. (However, Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld is aged, Dior is temporarily without a designer and one of the two co-designers of Valentino is splitting.) Iris Van Herpen possesses true genius and creativity, but her fashion is art, pure art and unlikely to influence wearable apparel. The rest of the couture crowd are spinning their wheels, producing some rather pretty clothes that look too familiar to move fashion forward. 

Chanel Haute Couture clout for Autumn 2016. 
Valentino’s Homage to Shakespeare for Autumn 2016. 
Dior Haute Collection minus a Name Designer.
Unwearable Creations by Genius Iris Van Herpen. 
Autumn ’16 Haute Couture by Armani Prive, Alexandre Vauthier, Elie Saab. 
Autumn 2016 Haute Couture by Georges Hobeika, Givenchy, Giambattista Valli. 
Autumn 2016 Haute Couture by J. Mendel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Maison Margiela. 
Autumn 2016 Haute Couture by Schiaparelli, Versace, Vetements. 

Designers Put Men at Ease

The recent European designer menswear shows for spring ’17 were more relaxed than ever before. Gone were the neat, natty examples of precision tailoring perfectly polished off with elegant accessories. Sartorial splendor that most real men find an intimidating turn-off has been almost totally replaced with a relaxed, roomy, rather casual look that can conceivably influence mainstream menswear, sooner or later. Wider, pleated pants, functional jackets, tracksuits and ‘nary a necktie in sight on the runways of Europe. 

Bottega Veneta, Dries Van Noten, Trussardi 
Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Dior Homme.