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. 

Macy’s

Lord & Taylor 

Saks Fifth Avenue

Bloomingdale’s

Bergdorf-Goodman

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