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, 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,

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.

Oct 28, 2016

#65 Dateline Paperdollywood - Brides, High Fashion, Proust's Muse, Color Pop, Coloring Craze, Blue Jeans, Paperdoll Review Catalog

Here Come the Brides!

I’ve begun my next paper doll book for Paper Studio Press, “Hollywood Gets Married.” Three bride dolls will wear some of the most beautiful wedding gowns ever created, confectionary creations worn in movies such as Father of the Bride, The Philadelphia Story, It Happened One Night and many others. Also included will be outfits worn by star brides for their real-life nuptials. Creating the dolls who will wear the gowns of many stars was a challenge for me. I sought faces with star quality, but not exact likenesses of specific stars. I wanted three different types, a blonde, a redhead and a brunette. I was inspired by Grace Kelly, Arlene Dahl and Elizabeth Taylor. To achieve the fusion of actual stars and doll-like models, I did three versions until I was satisfied. The groom gave me no problem. He’s a dead-ringer for Tyrone Power!  

David Wolfe Portraits Hollywood Gets Married
Rejected Study Number 1.

David Wolfe Hollywood Gets Married Paper Doll Portraits
Rejected Study Number 2 

David Wolfe Paper Doll Hollywood Gets Married
Approved Study Number 3 

All Dressed in White (But Not Always)

Researching Hollywood wedding gowns is my idea of a fun time. So many vintage movies end with the leading lady looking lovely as a bride, ready to live happily ever after. Of course, she’s always attired in a fairy tale gown. I found it interesting that the look du jour was reflected as times changed and the silhouette shifted from the slinky ‘30s to the broad shouldered ‘40s and the full-skirted ‘50s. Not all brides wore white, though. For their real-life weddings, Jeanette MacDonald picked pink, Rita Hayworth chose blue and Deanna Durbin’s eight bridesmaids formed a living rainbow. My personal all-time favorite wedding dress is Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy in Funny Face when she and Fred Astaire danced together in a romantic French country churchyard setting. 

Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor as Brides
Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor.

Claudette Colbert, Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe as brides
Claudette Colbert, Julie Andrews, Marilyn Monroe.

Who's Who in High Fashion?

You probably have not kept up with all the firings and hirings that have taken place in the fashion world lately. Here’s who’s designing what for spring ’17 and it’s likely you’ve never heard of them. Anthony Vaccarello is the new Yves Saint Laurent (deceased), succeeding Hedi Slimane. Balenciaga is now the hot Paris label because it is being created by Dema Gvasalia who caused a sensation with his own line, Vetements (which he continues to design.) Valentino (still living) has recently been designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri but they split and Maria is now designing Christian Dior (long gone, of course) which most recently was created by Raf Simons who is now replacing Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein. Confused? Me, too! 

Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Balenciaga, Christian Dior
Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Balenciaga, Christian Dior.

Meet Proust's Muse!

The Countess Greffulhe’s extravagant wardrobe is now on display at the FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) Museum in Manhattan. The exhibition is an exercise in elegance, tastefully displayed and dramatically lighted, conjuring up an atmosphere of a lost time. That’s as it should be since the auburn-haired Countess was a muse to Marcel Proust whose novel, A la Recherch√© du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time) is considered a masterpiece. The author created several characters inspired by the Countess and frequently attributed her haute couture wardrobe to characters. There are many extraordinary pieces on display, demonstrating the Countess’s professed desire to “look bizarre rather than banal.” One such effect was achieved in 1904 at the wedding of her daughter when the Countess’s gown of bejeweled gold embroidery with a fur bordered circular train completely upstaged the bride. This very worthwhile exhibition is on display until January 7, 2017. 

Countess Greffulhe
Vintage photographs of the elegant Countess. 

Countess Greffulhe gowns
A quartet of extravagant gowns on display. 

Pop Goes Color!

Spring ’17 fashion promises to be a rainbow of vivid hues, often in startling combinations. Whereas in years long past, every new season saw the promotion of a singular fashion color. Remember “Think Pink” for example? The past couple of decades have been dominated by black and more black. Now bold color is making a refreshing comeback in many cutting edge collections. 

Valentino, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta
Valentino, Miu Miu, Bottega Veneta

Chanel, Pucci, Balenciaga
Chanel, Pucci, Balenciaga 

Continuing Coloring Craze

Coloring books are everywhere, these days. What began as a sort of stress-relieving past time is rippling out to include more diversified subjects. Fashion is an obvious area and Time Life has published a multi-page book, “Fashion Through the Ages 1870-1940.” It is illustrated by Sarah Brody whose simplistic line drawings are perfect for colorization. I found the book in an unlikely place…the check-out line at my local supermarket! Seeing so many coloring books on offer reminded me of a coloring book project I did decades ago, a fund-raiser for a children’s theatre in Boca Raton, Florida where my young daughter and son appeared in some charming productions in the mid-1970s. I’m thrilled to see the renaissance of coloring books but I pine for the good old days of glamorous movie star coloring books. 

Coloring Book Drawings by David Wolfe
Children’s Theatre Fund-raiser by me, circa 1975. 

Shakespearean coloring book pages by David Wolfe
Shakespearean theatre and players to color.

Show Boat scenes to color by David Wolfe
Showboat theatre and melodrama scene to color. 

Vintage Western and Slapstick pages to color by David Wolfe
Vintage Western movie and slapstick comedy to color.

Contemporary coloring book.
Fashion Through the Ages contemporary coloring book.

Fashion through the Ages Coloring Book
Sample pages of vintage fashion to color. 

Ol' Blue Jeans Never Die

They just keep turning up on the runways in the collections of high-price designer duds. Even though this most humble of garments is often the worst for wear and tear, it is usually paired with a fancy top of some kind rather than the t-shirt that usually tops jeans worn by the mainstream public. Powerful editor Anna Wintour deserves credit for this schizoid coordination because her first Vogue cover published in August 2012 featured jeans worn with an extravagantly bejewelled Christian LaCroix top. It created quite a stir then, but wouldn’t rate a second glance today. 

Denim Fashion on the Runway
Paul & Joe, Dsquared2, Saint Laurent.

The Joy of Paper Doll Collecting!

The new catalog from Paperdoll Review is now available and it is like a dream-come-true for those of us who love to collect. Catalog No. 23 has 56 pages of paper doll books, sticker books and coloring books. It is filled with treasures, and browsing the colorful pages provides hours of fun, deciding what the "must-haves" are to add to your collection. The catalog itself is a collectible. It includes an adorable Hilda Miloche "Vacation Time" paper doll as well as a $3.00 coupon for your next order. The only down-side is the difficulty of deciding what to order. So much to choose from! Start with catalog if you don't already have one. To receive the Paperdoll Review Catalog No. 23, send $3 to Paperdoll Review, PO Box 14, Kingfield, ME 04947, or order online. I'm thrilled to see so many of my paper doll books in the catalog including the new Volumes 3 and 4 of my on-going series, “David Wolfe’s History of Hollywood." Pre-orders are now available for Classic Singing Stars and Classic Dancing Stars, to be shipped in February 2017. Volumes 1 and 2, Queen Elizabeth on the Screen and Classic Drama Queens are currently available.

Paper Doll Catalog with classic stars cute kids and more
The glorious new Paperdoll Review Catalog No. 23