Dec 19, 2015

#53 Dateline: Paperdollywood - Showgirls, Fashion Books...

New York City Showgirls!

My soon-to-be-published Hollywood goes to New York City paper doll book is all about glamour. Eight pages of clothes for the four dolls are taken from movies set in the Big Apple. Of course I was happy to include extravagant showgirl costumes from Ziegfeld Girl, The Ziegfeld Follies of 1948 and The Great Ziegfeld. I also included one of Carmen Miranda’s costumes from Greenwich Village.
Showgirl Style as seen in the movies

Fashion House of Cards

I am not a card-player but I was delighted to receive a card game as a gift from my dear friend, Sharry O’Hara. “Fashion Face-Off” is a trump card game illustrated by Erin Petson.  I was not familiar with the artist, but immediately became a fan of her wonderful technique that combines watercolor, collage and line to create fresh and free fashion illustration.  Best of all, the sketches accurately capture the garments correctly. Each of the cards in the chic deck portrays a truly iconic modern fashion by designers like Christian Lacroix, Diane Von Furstenberg and Vivienne Westwood. Pick a card, any card.  You don’t have to be a card-player to enjoy this charming example of imaginative fashion illustration.  Available online from, $9.95.
A selection of chic cards from the Fashion Face-Off Deck

Creating the Illusion, Designer by Designer

Creating the Illusion Book Cover
A recently published book, “Creating the Illusion,” is a great big gorgeous coffee table tome by Jay Jorgensen and Donald L. Scroggins. It is a gorgeous 415 page volume filled with rare photos and containing short bios of virtually every Hollywood costume designer from the silent era to present designers, from Erte to Coleen Atwood (Edward Scissorhands). Some, such as Adrian, are well-known, others like Elois Jenssen (I Love Lucy) are unsung, but all are important and their career trajectories are fascinating. Several tried to design for consumers, but only a few succeeded in the real world. Theirs is a special gift. Edith Head explained it when she said, “What a costume designer does is a cross between magic and camouflage. We create the illusion of changing the actors into what they are not. We ask the public to believe that every time they see a performer on the screen, he’s become a different person.” Creating the Illusion is available on where the $65 price is discounted to $40.90.
Designer Adrian with Joan Crawford

Designer Irene with Joan Crawford

Designer Theadoroa Van Runkle with Faye Dunaway

Designer Irene with Liza Minnelli

Designer Elois Jenssen with Lucille Ball

Ugly is the New Beautiful? Disruptive Style is In!

The recent trend-setting Spring ’16 fashion shows seemed determined to break the rules and turn style upside-down. And you can forget about “good taste!” Oh, there are some beautiful items and accessories, but they are too often put together in attention-getting, but downright ugly combinations that only a so-called stylist could envision. Prints and patterns are frequently mis-matched in chaotic combinations. Many designers won’t let go of the funky ‘70s, an era known as “the decade that taste forgot.” Appropriate accessories are a thing of the past.  The leader of this renegade pack is Alessandro Michele, the Gucci designer who has become the designer’s-designer, much admired and copied.  As a reflection of our society-gone-awry, this fascination with intentionally disruptive style is right-on. But will it step off the runway into real-life? Let’s hope not!

Marc Jacobs, Prada, Dries Van Noten
Pucci, Jeremy Scott, Miu-Miu

First Daughter Paper Doll Pops Up

Malia Obama is about to go off to college and WWD, the fashion industry bible, featured her as a paper doll with individual wardrobe items for various universities. New York University cool, Harvard is traditional, Berkeley is far-out.  This full page paper doll was illustrated by Meghann Stephenson.
Malia Obama's Off-to-Collee Wardrobe Options

The Height of Fashion!

As a paper doll artist, I constantly battle my past as an illustrator of high fashion. Exaggeration and elongation are the lynchpins of fashion art and I confess that I often got carried away.  Years ago, in London, I was known as “the artist who draws long American legs.” Height in drawings is measured by “heads” not feet or inches. The ideal real woman is 7-and-half heads tall. A fashion figure is usually taller, 8 or 9 heads high. Recently, I’ve seen illustrations as tall as 12 heads! The problem with such freakish elongation is that the design of the  garment has to be reconfigured and re-proportioned to fit the super-tall figure. When that happens, the garment is truly misrepresented. 

Paper doll artists, myself included, sometimes make grave errors in representing a celebrity properly proportioned. Very few are model proportion. Many big stars are very little people. (Liz Taylor was 5’2”, Connie Francis was 5’1” and Gloria Swanson was 4’11”). Example as shown: the height difference between the real 1953 Annette and the paper doll Annette. 

I’m currently working on six dolls who are heads apart in height, yet all of them portrayed Queen Elizabeth I on the screen and all acted their larger-than-life role impressively. So maybe size doesn’t matter, after all.  But I was mindful of their height difference when creating the dolls for Queen Elizabeth on the Screen Paper Dolls to be published Feb. 2016 by Paper Studio Press.

Long, tall Annette paper doll and life-size Annette
Judi Dench 5'1", Bette Davis 5'3", Helen Mirren 5'4", Glenda Jackson 5'6", Cate Blanchett 5'9", Vanessa Redgrave 5'11"

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic David. The studies of the actresses who portrayed Queen Elizabeth are remarkable.