Oct 16, 2019

2019 Emmy Fashions, Parson's School Fashion Show, New York Fashion Week, Three Betty Grables, Dressing Pop Trends, Paper Doll Collector,

Tomorrow's Talented Grads


Parson’s School of Design’s 2019 graduate show in New York City provided a preview peek at 12 talented students who are possibly the fashion stars of the future. They are heralded as the masters of fine arts and if their collections are any indication, tomorrow’s fashions are going to be highly creative, surprisingly colorful and somewhat suggestive. As is often the case of fashion college collections, exciting they may be, but what works on the runway is usually a quantum leap away from reality. 


 Left: Sho Konishi. Center: Hualei Lu. Right: Meg Calloway.

 Left: Yong Guo. Center: Bugs Garson. Right: Tara Babylon.  


New York Fashion Week Kicks Off Spring 2020


The “official” month of Trans-Atlantic Fashion Weeks began in New York City with a jammed 5-day schedule of so many runway shows and installations that it’s difficult to decipher the true trends and to discount/discard the fake news. Marc Jacobs’ 61-piece production that closed the week was a throw-back recall of unreal but amusing exaggerated extremes. Unbelievable in the real world. 

The real true news is the expanding realization that fashion must become more modern and ultimately believable. Although many designers paid homage to the ‘80s, that ol’ retro time warp seems somewhat forced. What rings true today is ease and comfort, clothes and accessories that connect to reality. It’s indicative of big change in the air that footwear is coming down-to-earth, (these shoes and sandals are made for walkin’.)

Bold colors get attention but shades of beige look better. Prints can be familiar florals or artful eye-catchers. Important textiles range from ultra-lightweights and fluid jersey to structured bottom-weights. Key items for spring ’20 include classic tailored sportswear jackets, soft pants (straight and wider), softened pantsuits, casual evening separates, trench coats and retro cocktail dresses. 


 Real News Modernity: A.L.C., Theory, The Row. 

 Bold Colors: Gabriela Hearst, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs.

 Real News Shades of Beige: The Row, Tom Ford, The Row. 

 Real News Artful Prints: Pyer Moss, Coach 1941, Pyer Moss.

 Familiar Floral Prints: Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Carolina Herrera. 

 Familiar Woven Patterns: Brooks Bros., Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs.

 Structured Textiles: Tom Ford, Theory, Carolina Herrera. 

 Key Item Classic Sportswear Jackets: Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford. 

 Key Item Soft Wide Pants: Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Tory Burch.

 Key Item Relaxed Pantsuits: A.L.C., Gabriella Hearst, Jason Wu. 

 Key Item Evening Separates: Carolina Herrera, Tom Ford, Gabriela Hearst. 

 Key Item Trenchcoats: Coach 1941, Gabriela Hearst, Jason Wu. 

 Key Item Retro Cocktail Dresses: Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Michael Kors.


TV Costumes on Display in L.A.


The 13th Annual Art of TV Costume Design exhibition staged at FIDM College in Los Angeles reconfirms that television is heralding a new Golden Age of entertainment. Creatively executed costumes play an important role in programs ranging from non-fiction reality to fantasy sci-fi, from Game of Thrones to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The scope and diversity of current programing is such that costumes, male as well as female, speak for themselves and the exhibition is wisely curated and mounted, simply staged with velvet curtains as backdrops to display the 10 Emmy nominees, and the three winners among 83 costumes on view. The exhibition ends October 26th. Emmy 2019 winners for Costume Design: Outstanding Period Costume Emmy to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Episode: “We’re going to the Catskills,” designed by Donna Zakowska. Outstanding Contemporary Costume Emmy to Russian Doll Episode: “Superiority Complex,” designed by Jennifer Rogien. Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costume Emmy to Game of Thrones Episode: “The Bells,” designed by Michele Clapton. 


 Me, enjoying Emmy-worthy TV costume design exhibition at Los Angeles’ FIDM Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. 

 Left: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Center: The Man in the High Castle. Right: Outlander. Hit episodic mini-series herald TV’s new “Golden Age.” 

 Left: The Masked Singer. Center: A Series of Unfortunate Events. Right: Pose. Fantasy meets glamour. 

 Pose. Center: Future Man. Right: Game of Thrones. The fashionable male element is evident. 


Coloring Three Betty Grables


My monthly coloring book exercise is devoted to the WWII pin-up blonde beauty, Betty Grable. Her wholesome glamour and warm personality made her the perfect subject for paper dolls and coloring books during troubled times. My own collection contains three marvelous coloring books, ranging from 1941 (the year I was born!) to 1953. I also have the vintage paper doll books that were published to match-up with the three coloring books. I myself enjoyed creating Betty Grable paper dolls for my “Classic Dancing Stars” book and soon-to-be-published “Fiesta!” 


  1953 Betty Grable Coloring Book, cover and colored page (in a rainbow-ruffled gown.) Published by Merrill.

 1951 Betty Grable Coloring Book, cover and color page (as a Gay ‘90s belle.) Published by Merrill. 

 1941 Betty Grable Paint Book, cover and colored page (I colored Betty as a golden Oscar statuette!) Drawings by Doris Lane Butler, published by Whitman.  


Dressing Pop Trend Paper Dolls


Pop Trends is my most recent book, published by Paper Studio Press. I confess that I created it in hopes that collectors will cut-out the dolls (a trio, all the same size, so they can borrow and wear each other’s clothes.) Each of the book’s eight pages is devoted to fashion items that exemplify a single trend: Romantic, Sporty, Minimal, Futuristic, Nostalgic, Uniform, Gypsy and Exotic. It’s fun to dress the dolls in a singular trend, head-to-toe. It’s even more fun to mix-up the trends the way cutting edge fashion stylists do these days, creating a never-before-seen trend. 


 Left: Sailor uniform, bell-bottom pants and middy tunic plus Dixie Cup cap. Center: Gypsy blouse and vest with exotic skirt. Right: Futuristic jumpsuit with helmet and water tank. 

Left: Nostalgic draped top and skirt plus handbag and necklace. Center: Romantic top and printed skirt plus straw hat. Right: Sporty top and shorts. 

 Left: Gypsy jacket and skirt. Center: Minimal coat and skirt, plus hat. Right: Exotic tunic and harem pants plus fez. 

 Mixed trends. Left: Nostalgic jacket with plaid skirt, handbag and beret. Center: Sailor sweater and romantic skirt, plus handbag and turban. Right: Argyle sweater tunic with futuristic pants and hair-bow.


Meet an Extraordinary Collector


The Paper Doll Community is a wonderful world wherein to meet and befriend interesting people. Thanks to the Internet, it’s not unusual to develop deep friendships with far-away paper doll collectors and artists. One of my favorite long distance friends is Lorenzo Lang and we’ve never met face-to-face. When I began selling my paper doll art years ago, Lorenzo was one of my first fans. He and I share a passion for vintage Hollywood’s golden era that coincides with the golden age of movie star paper dolls. 

I think Lorenzo owns a copy (or several!) of every single paper doll I have ever created. Of course I am not the only artist whose work he collects. He has two boxes devoted to Hedy Lamarr, two boxes of Marlene Dietrich and several boxes of Gone With the Wind. He has an extraordinary collection because he does more than just cutting out dolls and dressing them in the fashions from the books. He uses his imagination and creates one-of-a-kind “originals.” He scans and prints additional copies of the dolls and their wardrobes. Then the fun for him begins as he snips, pastes and reshapes clothes and/or the dolls themselves, thereby increasing the dress-up options for his favorite movie stars. 

Of course, as an avid collector, Lorenzo is faced with storage challenges for his extensive collection. He curates fifty-four large and/or medium-sized boxes, each of which contains several nesting smaller ones, with their lids underneath (Godiva candy boxes work best), thus creating “levels.” The thin lids of boxes, each contain a set of paper dolls from one book. The floor of the lid is the ceiling of the lid beneath, thus forming a structure reminiscent of luxury apartments of the forties, designed by William Haines for Joan Crawford and Claudette Colbert. (A little imagination is suggested.) 

Organization is key to the Lorenzo's method of displaying certain collections-within-the-core-collection. There is a vintage suitcase containing Lorenzo’s film noir paper dolls as well as an antique wooden Dietrich box containing twelve boxes with their lids underneath, thus doubling the number of receptacles. He is especially fond of a Noir suitcase containing sixteen dolls (32 sets). He likes to display his works of altered art and has a collection of decorative boxes that, when opened, display a dressed doll on top of her entire wardrobe, especially the “originals” created by Lorenzo. 


 Marlene in “borrowed” outfits and recycled fur trims. 

 Chinese storage box with stack of “levels,” candy box lids.


On the Emmy's Purple Carpet


The 71st Emmy Awards were recently presented to the scores of talented performers in front of the television cameras and also the vast number of creative and technical people behind the cameras. Never before has television programming offered such an excellent array of first-class entertainment. Fleabag proved to be the evening’s surprise winner. No wonder the lucky awards recipients seemed giddy with excitement as, dressed to the nines, they posed and preened on the jam-packed pre-show red carpet (now purple, but let’s not quibble.) 

The show was predictable, the presenters striving to amuse. The recipients gleeful with joy and sentimental camaraderie as they gushed their heartfelt thanks. The vast stage (the size of a football field) dwarfed the presenters and recipients (many of whom were accompanied to the stage with co-stars and an entourage in tow.) For me, it’s always all about the fashions, mostly on-loan from designers anxious for media exposure. 

This year’s Emmy attendees didn’t disappoint. The diversity that drives today’s entertainment was replicated by a wonderful display of fashion diversity, too. The singular headline-worthy fashion flash was the bold color combination of pink and red. Sure to delight the media was the slightly shocking sexy skin show. Necklines plunged to the waist while shoulders were bared and sometimes the sides of bodices disappeared, as well. Legs peeked provocatively from slits and slashes. For those romantics who preferred something more ladylike, there were full skirts and designs that recalled the glory days of Dior’s “New Look.” 

There were three important textiles trends: heavy silken satin, flowing fluid sheers and the Midas touch of metallic, fabric, sequins and beads. In the past, most male attendees wore trad black tie tux, and most still do. But some donned redone tuxedos and a handful added a feminine flair to their one-of-a-kind expression. All in all, the overall fashion statement was worthy of television’s current exciting excellence. 


 Newsworthy red/pink color combo: Marisa Tomei, Taraji P. Henson, Mandy Moore, Susan Kelechi-Watson. 

 Sexy skin show: Emilia Clarke, Indya Moore, Nathalie Emmanuel. 

 Midas touch metallic: Natasha Lyonne, Isla Fisher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

 Razzle dazzle sparkle: Rachel Brosnahan, Niecy Nash, Kerry Washington.

 Twinkling trims: Maya Erskin, Ava Duvernay, Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

 Dramatic silken shapes: Greta Lee, Dascha Polanco, Janet Mock.

 Sensuous flowing sheers: Julia Gardner, Christina Applegate, Catherine Zeta Jones. 

 Big ballgown skirts: Joey King, Brittany Snow, Laverne Cox. 

 Adding color to the trad tuxedo: Justin Hartley, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, James Van Der Beek. 

 Masculine menswear with a feminine slant: Billy Porter, Steven Canas, RuPaul.

Sep 20, 2019

Paper Doll Collaboration, London Fashion Party, Menswear 2020, Researching Royal Princesses, Coloring the Circus

New Creative Collaboration


In last month’s Blog, I wrote of the challenge I faced in working on a new paper doll book, “Stripes!” I wanted to re-concept the entire project, making the dolls and the clothes look more modern, more doll-like. I realized that my usual, vintage-style painterly artwork would not have the look I was after. What to do? I conferred with Jenny and together we came up with an experimental idea. Why not collaborate with a digitally adept, computer savvy artist, someone like the tremendously talented Julie Allen Matthews? (She illustrated Kitchen Kitsch Paper Dolls and was the featured artist in Vamps & Villains Paper Doll Studio OPDAG issue #118.) I have never met Julie, so Jenny became the go-between. When Jenny pitched the idea to Julie, she eagerly said “Yes!” I roughed-out my ideas for the content, designing some of the garments and referenced some others, and suggested the layout of the book. Using my sketches, she digitally rendered and painted the costumes, and I was bowled-over by the results. A perfect marriage of classic illustration and digital technology. So away we go! Watch for the “Stripes!” book to be released in November 2019. 


David’s rough designs and Julie’s computerized interpretation for “Bold” stripes.


David’s rough designs and Julie’s computerized interpretation for “Rainbow” stripes.

David’s rough designs and Julie’s computerized interpretation for “Vintage” stripes.


Getting A-head


Thinking back, I realize that I have raced deadlines for my entire career, from my first job (age 19 in 1959) as assistant to the Advertising Manager for a small chain of Ohio department stores. When I retired from my final full-time job (age 75 in 2016), the pressure was off and I was happily faced with lots and lots of time to create paper dolls, write my monthly blog and contributions to Paper Doll Studio and Paperdoll Review Magazines. Case in point: I needed to create heads for two dolls on the back cover of the forthcoming paper doll book, “Stripes,” so I enjoyed toying with many versions with different faces and coiffures. Which two heads were chosen? Find out next month!


 Brunette, blonde or redhead?


 A quartet of faces.

 A trio of varied faces and coiffures.



New Pop Trends Paper Doll Book, Now Available


Recently published by Paper Studio Press: Pop Trends Paper Dolls, a new book that will be especially fun to cut-out and play with. Three dolls, sized the same, are able to wear each other’s 90-piece wardrobe of timeless/trendy fashions: Nostalgic, Romantic, Exotic, Gypsy, Minimal, Uniform, Sporty and Futuristic. Do as real-life stylists do, mix items from different trends and create a brand new look. Example: Romantic lace-trimmed jeans with an Exotic top. Anything goes these days! 


 Pop Trends cover doll trio, ready to mix and match outfits.

 Romantic and Nostalgic Trends.

 Exotic and Gypsy Trends.

 Minimal and Uniform Trends.

 Sporty and Futuristic Trends.


Coloring the Circus


Most every coloring book in my collection is devoted to a vintage Hollywood movie star of the ‘40s, “50s or ‘60s. One exception is a 1953 Merrill coloring book, “Super-Dooper Circus.” Not a single glamour star in it, but I added it to my collection nevertheless because I fell in love with the cover art, a joyously exuberant visualization of a circus parade. 

 Super-Dooper Circus” cover and title page.

 Two pages colored by me. 


Remembering a Very Special London Fashion Party


While rummaging through some storage boxes, I happened to find a London party invitation that brought back memories that I want to share. I cannot recall the year of the party and the invitation only provides the month and day. My guess is that it was in the early 1970s. Anne Knight, the brilliant Fashion Director of Fortnum and Mason, was famed for transforming the fusty 200 year old elegant emporium into the swinging fashion epicenter of the era. She “discovered” me when I moved to England in the mid-'60s and for years I produced the store’s adverts that appeared in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Anne called me one day and told me she was opening a new boutique department that would carry a trio of cutting edge designers: Jean Muir, Zandra Rhodes and Bill Gibb. She asked me to come up with a name for the high fashion trio. In a flash, I suggested “Odyssey” and so it became. The opening party was fabulously peopled with celebrities and a few minor Royals. Read the fine print for the late night dress code: unpredictable. Ah, yes, I well remember what I wore; a white cashmere sweater that laced-up with suede thongs trimmed with ermine tails and Native American pottery beads. My skin-tight pants were made of pigskin and I tucked them into python boots with sky-high platforms and heels. Need I even tell you that my hair flowed down past my shoulders? (Yes, I had hair then. No, I don’t have any photos.) Memories like this light the corners of my mind. Wasn’t I the lucky one? 


 My illustration on the invitation to celebrate the opening of the “Odyssey” Boutique in London’s poshest store, Fortnum & Mason.

 The RSVP invitation to the most fashionable London party of the year. Too bad I cannot remember what year it was! 


Menswear Spring '20 Shows Go on and On


The chaotic, confused fashion calendar meant to preview the spring ’20 Trans-Atlantic menswear shows remains muddled. Many designer collections now mix menswear into some women’s fashion shows or mix women’s into menswear shows. It’s best to give up trying to make sense of the timing and focus on influential ideas. The rediscovery of tailoring continues to be the most important overriding trend, but for younger men, the tailoring is softer, roomy and relaxed. Easy tailoring means bigger suits and jackets, oversize shirts. Belts sometimes cinch-in bigger coats and jackets. As the athleisure-sporty-utility mega-trend continues to wane, some dandy-ish prints and colors add fresh excitement. Mellow yellows are a super stand-alone color newsmaker. The silliest newsmaker is transparency. Why, oh why? 


 Mellow yellows stand-out by Craig Green, Botter and Ovadia.



 More mellow yellows by Ovadia, Sies Marjan and White Mountaineering.

 Relaxed tailoring for suits by Alyx, Officine Generale and Ovadia.

 Belts are a cinch by Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Sies Marjan and Sies Marjan.

 Oversize jackets and shirts at Sacai, Alyx and Willy Chavarria.

 Dandy-ish prints at White Mountaineering, ditto and ditto.


 Athleisure-utility mega-trend continues at Willy Chavarria, Craig Green and Sacai.


 Silly attention-grabber transparencies by Craig Green, Pigalle and Ludovic de Saint Sernin. 


Researching the Real-Life Royal Princesses


I am beginning to plan my projects for 2020 and have started the research for a new book, “Royal Princesses of the 20th Century,” representing five iconic fashion trend-setters of their periods. No Disney princesses in this planned book. It begins with Princess Alexandra of Denmark who wed the Prince of Wales in 1902 and became Queen Consort to King Edward VII. The next doll in the book will be Princess Margaret Rose (sister of Queen Elizabeth II). Then to Hollywood for Grace Kelly who became Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco. Back to the United Kingdom to include Anne, The Princess Royal, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and reputed to be the hardest worker of the Windsor family. No surprise that Princess Diana, “The People’s Princess” and the most-photographed person of the 20th century completes this enchanting five-some of regal royal real-life princesses. I intend to keep you posted as this paper doll project is created for publication sometime in 2020 by Paper Studio Press



 Princess Alexandra of Denmark who became Queen Consort of Edward VII.



 Princess Margaret Rose, dressed by Christian Dior for her 21st birthday.

 Princess Grace of Monaco, formerly movie star Grace Kelly.


 Anne, Princess Royal, Olympic horsewoman and fashion clotheshorse.

 Diana, Princess of Wales, mega-celebrity and beloved as “The People’s Princess.”