Dec 7, 2017

#79 Griswold Christmas, NYC Holiday Windows, Downton Abbey, Christmas Coloring, Plaids, Paper Doll Preview

Merry Christmas Card from David

This year, my Christmas Paper Doll card is inspired by the 1989 movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase. Click here for a high res image. Since 2002 I've been creating a Hollywood inspired paper doll, and they're all archived on (click on the David Wolfe tab and scroll down to the Christmas section).

Griswold Christmas Paper Doll
Griswold Family Christmas Paper Doll by David Wolfe
Click here for a high res version.

New York is Decked Out to Celebrate Christmas

Christmas in New York is always a visual feast, a happy holiday tradition, a heartwarming eye-candy gift for the hordes of window shoppers. Most major department and specialty stores still forsake a hard sell and deliver crowd-pleasing entertainment. Several stores honored the city itself. In one window, Macy’s featured the flagship store in miniature, opening up like a doll’s house. Other Macy’s windows playfully portrayed a revolving bird’s eye view of Central Park and another, the East River trams. Bergdorf-Goodman honored New York institutions such as the Philharmonic and the Museum of Natural History with windows packed with glamorous and amusing props. Saks Fifth Avenue devoted all their Fifth Avenue windows to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Disney’s first feature length cartoon, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Lord & Taylor’s tasteful winter wonderland was sweet and sentimental. Although the windows are a traditional people-pleaser, there is a growing trend for some buildings to decorate the edifice itself, not just windows. Cartier is wrapped with electrified red ribbon and silky flags. Tommy Hilfiger’s store is decorated with lavish stripes of gilded ornaments while Tiffany’s is hung with two huge glittering decorations. Rockefeller Center’s tree is greener than ever and stylized white angels once again line-up on the promenade. The city is bedecked and bedazzled as ever, wishing Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night! 

Bergdorf-Goodman, Macy’s, Bergdorf-Goodman.

Macy’s 34th Street Store as a Big Doll’s House.

Macy’s bird’s eye view and Saks’ Snow White.

Tiffany’s, Cartier and Tommy Hilfiger

Welcome Back to Downton Abbey

For fans of Downtown Abbey pining to revisit the phenomenally popular TV series, it’s possible to once again be transported to the stately home of Lady Mary, His Lordship, Carson, Mrs. Patmore and the rest of the beloved characters. Downton comes to life again with a fantastic exhibition in New York City. “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition” is housed in a big three-story space on 57th Street and it is packed with people who loved the six season serial and are emotionally entranced by the sight of costumes, props, furnishings and film clips. The evocative theme music sets the mood as visitors are greeted by a life-size hologram of housekeeper Mrs. Hughes and the sonorous voice of Carson, the butler. The first floor is devoted to the below-stairs staff, the fully-equipped kitchen and Carson’s office. The second floor houses the grand dining room with an Edwardian setting, Lady Mary’s boudoir and many informational displays and film clips. The third floor is devoted to the gorgeous costumes. Noteworthy are the extravagantly beaded frocks, but it is the trio of wedding dresses that have the devoted fans brushing away tears. Visitors exit through a well-stocked gift shop. The exhibition has a timed-ticket seniors’ price of $28 and can be purchased online at For those who want their teacake and eat it too, a luxurious Edwardian tea is available at the nearby Whitby Hotel for $45 per person, 212-586-5656.

Welcome from Mrs. Hughes Hologram.

Downton Abbey Below Stairs Kitchen

Downton Abbey Elegant Dining Room.

Lady Mary’s Boudoir.

Downton Abbey Costumes.

Colorful Christmas Nostalgia

My monthly coloring book fun added holiday hues to a Dover Book published in 2016 and available from An Old-Fashioned Christmas by artist Ted Menten is drawn with a great deal of charm and depicts a traditional Christmas celebration. In a season of stress, coloring for a few hours truly does bring peace on earth. 

Ted Menten's Old-Fashioned Christmas Coloring Book Cover and Colored Page.

Ted Menten's Old Fashioned Christmas Coloring Book pages colored by David.

Pretty Plaid Pattern Play

Seldom is there a fashion season when plaid does not appear. At Christmastime, the plaids are usually red and green, but fashion-wise, often the most successful plaids are woven with menswear in mind, classy classics in neutral colors. Those classic masculine plaids are rebooted for spring ’18, a season of pretty plaids that are woven with feminine intentions. Color is the key to plaid diversity, sometimes soft shades and other times, richly saturated. This season’s plaids sometimes turn up as classic Prince of Wales pattern. Newer are varied scales and newest are the occasional collision of plaid-with-plaid or with prints. 

Pretty Plaids by Chanel, Sacai and Marni.

Not Quite Classic Plaids by Christopher Kane, Etro and Dries Van Noten.

Mixed Plaids by Balenciaga, Katrantzou and SMGM.

Undressed but all Dressed Up!

I have just completed Hollywood Gets Undressed, my latest paper doll book to be published in 2018 by Paper Studio Press! The book contains 36 outfits including racy, lacy lingerie, feather-trimmed negligees, period underwear and some naughty, scanty costumes that were shocking in movies years ago. Here are the dressed-up dolls. 

Costumes from Raintree County, Two Weeks with Love, Eternally Yours and Our Blushing Brides.

Costumes from The Women, Dinner at Eight, Ladies of Burlesque and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Costumes from The Owl and the Pussycat, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Thin Man, The Trojan Horse and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Nov 22, 2017

#78 - Paper Doll Book Preview, Transparent Textiles on the Runway, Judy Garland Coloring, RuPaul Paper Dolls

Ready to Get UNdressed!

My current Works-in-Progress include a book that is not really as unusual as it may seem at first. “Hollywood Gets Undressed” is my next paper doll book and the theme is inspired by the ultra-glamorous boudoir fashions worn by stars on the screen. Negligees, robes, nightgowns, pajamas, corsets and lots of lovely lingerie. Also included, just for fun, are some of the scanty costumes that shocked audiences in the more modest past. There will be four paper doll models; three lovelies (two whom resemble Carole Lombard as a blonde and a brunette, plus fiery Maureen O’Hara…also a look-a-like Errol Flynn). Here’s a sneak preview of the work-in-progress book that is scheduled to be published next year by Jenny Taliadoros’ Paper Studio Press. Be sure to visit for my current offering of Hollywood paper dolls!

paper dolls, David Wolfe, Classic Hollywood, Hollywood fashion
Front and Back Cover Roughs for “Hollywood Gets Undressed.”

Close-up of Dolls inspired by Carole Lombard, Maureen O’Hara and Errol Flynn. 

Sheer Fabrics Tell a Transparent Tale

Transparent textiles as fine as gossamer wings swept through the spring ’18 runway shows like a tsunami, adding an illusion of delicacy. As a top layer, sheer fabrics often create illusionary color transformations. Sometimes the transparencies lack modesty on runway models. But when multi-layered or simply veiling an opaque frock, top, bra or even a coat, they become a realistic and intriguing real-life fashion option. Some of the transparencies are crisp while others are soft and floaty. A few are printed or textured, too. Whether the transparent items are simple or confectionary, they are a major fashion tale for spring ’18. 

Transparent Dresses by Valli, Dior and Calvin Klein.

Transparent Tops by Valentino, Rocksanda and Chanel.

Transparent Gowns by Mugler, Rochas and Akris.

Transparent Coats by Assembly, Dries Van Noten and Pringle.

My Oldest Coloring Book: Judy Garland

I have a coloring older than I am! My 77 year old Judy Garland book was printed in 1940 when the young star was 18 years old and part of the Andy Hardy franchise. The book is in poor condition, no surprise because cheap newsprint was considered good enough for an ephemeral item but it has yellowed with time and crumbles at the edges. Nevertheless, I tried to color a page with wax crayons but found that I had to press hard to get the color to show on the fragile paper. I switched to soft colored pencils and carefully added color using a very light touch. The content of the book is interesting. Young Judy is on what’s left of the disintegrating cover, but she’s not a doll. There are two typical ‘40s paper dolls (with broad bare shoulders) on the back cover and 4 pages of clothes for them to color and cut-out. A note explains that “Judy has designed these clothes for her fashion dolls, Peggy and Polly.” Judy appears on every page of the coloring book but artist Hedwig Jo Meixner evidently didn’t like drawing her as the star is sometimes viewed from the back as she signs autographes, sips a soda or inspects a car for her birthday. The book portrays Judy as a not-very-glamorous girl next door. 

Classic Hollywood coloring book
Cover and Colored Page

Classic Hollywood Judy Garland Coloring Book
Pages Colored by David 

High Shine Steals the Spotlight

The recent runway previews of spring ’18 designer collections didn’t need a mega-watt spotlight to catch and reflect the light. Many materials look as though they have been struck by lightning. High shine surfaces glimmer and gleam, polished to shimmering sleekness. Satin shines for daytime items as well as evening occasion dressing. Slick synthetics add uber-ultramodern shine while sequins suggest retro glamour. Sometimes the shine is slightly subdued. Whether subtle or dazzling, surface shine promises to glamourize spring ’18. 

Satin Shine by Marni, Calvin Klein and Balenciaga. 

Synthetic Shine by Acne, Calvin Klein and Femty.

Shiny Sparkle by Valentino, Valentino and Coach.

Shiny Pantsuits by Dolce & Gabbana, Coach and Gabriela Hearst.

RuPaul's Drag Race Paper Dolls

A glossy, glamorous newly published paper doll book based on RuPaul’s Drag Race tv show. The popular competition pits Drag Queen against Drag Queen. They face challenges as they make-up their faces and slip into glamour girl drop-dead outfits. The book captures the outrageous looks and personalities. Ten punch-out die-cut dolls and costumes are based on the winning contestants and illustrated by Sunny Gu in a slick computer-cool art style. Why no RuPaul doll, I wonder? Available at for $12.88. 

Drag Queen Paper Dolls
RuPaul’s Drag Race Paper Doll Book.

Drag Queen Paper Dolls
Drag Race Competitor and Drag Costume.

Oct 23, 2017

#77 - Fashions from London, Milan and Paris, French Fashion Coloring Book, Extreme Expedition at FIT, Remembering Liz Taylor

London Keeps Calm and Carries On

Despite a disastrous terrorist bomb incident on the subway and disruptive anti-fur protests, London’s recent spring ’18 Fashion Week carried on. Scores of designers displayed courage, talent and that expected British stiff upper lip. They were joined by high profile foreign stars, Tommy Hilfiger, Giorgio Armani and Donatella Versace. Local talent delivered well-received collections that were creative, highly individual and on-trend. A few themes were far-fetched (Christopher Kane’s kitchen/bathroom supplies and Erdem’s homage to the long-ago day when the Queen met Duke Ellington), but commercial salability scored with international buyers. Springtime color came on strong with an emphasis on pale palettes. Noteworthy transparent materials, including non-wovens and knits were widely used for every item possible, especially dresses and coats. Fringe was a swinging detail. Last season’s London collections focused on casual streetwear, but spring ’18 runways leaned towards eveningwear with shine and sparkle plus plenty of pretty prints aimed at young and trendy consumers. 

Soft shades from Roksanda, Christopher Kane and Emporio Armani.

Transparencies by Burberry, Pringle and Top Shop.

Fringe at Roksanda, Erdem and Roland Mouret.

Fashionable French Coloring Book

Even though I like vintage movie star coloring books, I keep my eye on the many, many new coloring books being printed to cash in on the current craze. French Vogue magazine has produced an exceptional coloring book, “Vogue Paris A Colorier.” Artist Marc-Antoine Coulon has artfully reproduced a line-and-wash, 111 page book based on fashion photographs from French Vogue. The images range from 1949 to 2016. I found this collectible gem selling for $19.95 at a store that specializes in imported fashion magazines. 
French Vogue coloring book cover and colored page of 1949 Horst photo.

Jean-Jacques Bugat and 1983 Bill King photos colored by David. 

Milan's Millennial Mood Swing

Milan’s fashion profile has always been predicated on sophisticated luxury and easy elegance, sublime style and superb, subtle taste. However, the recent spring ’18 runway shows revealed a new mood in Milan, a total turn-about created to entrance the adventurous Millennial generation. Color-crazed palettes! A shower of sparkle! Shameless transparencies! Exaggerated shapes! Merry mash-up mixes! Collision replaced careful coordination. What caused such bold surprise elements? Easy answer: Gucci’s designer Alessandro Michele is the most copied vision in fashion today and his influence is clearly evidenced in many Milanese collections for spring ’18. 

Gucci sure to “inspire” copycat designers.

Color-crazed at Versace, MSGM and Bottega Veneta.

Coordination collisions by Prada, Marni and Stella Jean.

Extreme Expedition Exhibition at FIT Museum

In today’s world of casual style, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that fashion didn’t earlier start assimilating extreme activewear as inspiration for high style. Only a few examples predate the 1960s. Certainly, “athleisure” is a recent rage. The Museum at FIT is exploring the inspirational fashion influence of apparel originally made to enable explorers braving difficult elements. The exhibition, which closes January 6, is divided into themes including Arctic, Safari, Ocean, Mountain and Space arranged around a suggestion of a space ship soaring through the ceiling and a sky-high peak climbing up one wall. The most emphatic fashion elements focus on furs, down-filling and metallic materials. The curated examples encompass a diversified roster of designers from the past and present. Although impressive, the exhibition might have been more explanatory if the fashion translations shared space with the original garments made to endure the extreme measures. There is a handsome book by Patricia Mears and Lacey Flint that accompanies the exhibition, available at 

Expedition gallery at FIT Museum.

Chanel’s arctic furs, Phillip Plein’s metallic space suit, Andre Courreges’ sixties space age style.

YLS’ safari tunic, Watanabe’s puffa coat, Chanel’s sequined scuba jacket.

Remembering and researching Liz Taylor

The next issue of Paper Doll Studio magazine is going to pay tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. She was the Hollywood star of stars, touted as the most beautiful woman in the world during the last half of the 20th century. I’m writing a biographic article for the issue and to go with the bio, I have created a paper doll of young Liz when she starred in National Velvet. The issue will give OPDAG artists the opportunity to dress the Liz dress-a-doll I created for what is sure to be a very glamorous issue. If you aren’t yet a subscriber, visit for details. 
Elizabeth Taylor paper doll portrait by David.

Vintage coloring books for young fans in 1950s and 1954.

Paris packs a powerful punch!

What fashion needs now is newness, daring and a fresh point of view. The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan currently has a noteworthy exhibition that asks, “Is Fashion Modern?” The recent spring ’18 Paris runway shows answered with a resounding “Mais, Oui!” Gone are those elegant up-tight “jolie madames” in their impeccable Paris perfection. They used to call the shots and set the trends. They are being replaced by devil-may-care fashion consumers who know no boundaries, who dress-up-and-down in style that’s casual and sometimes crazy. Paris in the spring ’18 season dares to be different, to mix but never match. Stylists are the all-powerful influencers now. Design is often agonizingly over-designed, clever re-or-de constructions that break fussy old rules of hand-finished hems, darts and seams. Craftsmanship creates special effects that amount to an overload of embellishments including fringe, feathers and fol de rol. Metallic materials, sequins and jewels ramp-up the glamour. Paris is surprisingly color-drenched, mad for plastic, shameless transparent and ready to party until the break of dawn. Fashion plays out theatrically, as in the case of Saint Laurent’s runway that commandeered the Eiffel Tower as a background, or Chanel’s reconstruction of the scenic Gorge du Verdon with mountainous greenery and cascading waterfalls. The Thom Browne tribute to the “Little Mermaid” was a giddy bit of madness ending with a life-size unicorn puppet. Analysts, pundits and retail buyers are convinced that fashion-for-the-fun-of-it is a means of escape from fearful times. 
Saint Laurent, Chanel, Thom Browne.

Christian Dior, Celine, Dries Van Noten.

Balenciaga, Valentino, Louis Vuitton.

Sep 30, 2017

#76 - Celebrity Coloring Books, Spring '18 Fashions, Hollywood UNdressed, TV Costume Exhibit, Denim, Emmys

Celebrity Coloring Book Collectibles

I am primarily a collector of paper dolls, but for the last couple of years, I have slowly but surely added vintage celebrity coloring books to my collection. I particularly enjoy the artistic illustrative covers of some of the books. I have rediscovered the joy of actually coloring pages (most books are partly colored by the original owners years and years ago.) Recently I received a marvelous gift of seven vintage coloring books from two very generous friends. The books are: Doris Day 1952, Ann Blyth 1952, Betty Grable 1951, Margaret O’Brien 1947, Esther Williams 1951, Jane Powell and Judy Garland 1941 (The year of my birth!). I can’t wait to start coloring! 

Ann Blyth, Esther Williams, Betty Grable Coloring Books

Margaret O’Brien, Judy Garland, Doris Day Coloring Books

A Cacophony of Color for Spring '18

The biggest news from the New York Designer Shows is an exuberant display of color, color, color! Happy days may not be here again, but spring ’18 promises an optimistic rainbow array of colors galore. In the coming spring ’18 multi-color extravaganza, the pink plethora continues, but sunshine yellow looks surprisingly hot. Red rages on and orange is fiery. Blues range from bright to soft. Although every color appeared monochromatically, more importantly, there is a veritable cacophony of upbeat color combinations. The psychological effect of so many happy hues suggests a feel-good fashion season ahead. 

Tom Ford, Prabal Gurung, Elizabeth & James

Marc Jacobs, Jeremy Scott, Fenty Puma

Derek Lam, Calvin Klein by Raf Simon, Marc Jacobs

Getting Ready to UNdress Hollywood

My new paper doll project is an unusual book, “Hollywood Gets Undressed.” Movies often have scenes featuring stars in a half-UNdressed state, often in a boudoir, on a beach or poolside and sometimes scantily clad in a sexy costume for a musical number. This new book, presently a work-in-progress is to be published by Paper Studio Press later in the year and will have three female model paper dolls and one male, all ready to dress in varying states of UNdress…negligees, nightgowns, pajamas, corsets, slips, swimsuits and sexy costumes. 

Work-in-Progress faces for the Undressed Paper Dolls

Work-in-Progress Version #2 Paper Dolls

Front Cover Art 

TV Costume Exhibit Launches Awards Cycle

The Emmys are TV’s annual self-congratulatory awards in so many categories that it seems as though everyone in Hollywood must receive one of the gold statuettes. I’ll leave the categorized confusion to others and I’ll offer my view of the Emmys presented to the costumes designers. I previewed the costumes by visiting FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in Los Angeles where the 11th Outstanding Art of TV Costume Design will be on exhibit until October 7th. 

100 costumes represent 25 shows from 2016 and include 9 Emmy nominees. Whereas television production values used to be a poor relation of the extravagant, big budgeted, big screen movies, but no longer is that the case. With so many means of accessing entertainment media, the myriad TV networks spend millions to make streaming series look as good as, as glamorous as, anything ever projected onto a movie theatre’s big screen. The scope of the stories calls for creative costuming. While there is yet to appear a fashion genius like Adrian or Edith Head, a new generation of designers is meeting the challenge. 2016 was a year of brilliantly diverse television. “Westworld” took place in a robotic theme park while “The Handmaid’s Tale” foretold a chilling rethink of gender roles in society. “Feud: Bette and Joan” turned back Hollywood’s clock and “The Crown” began the regal, epic life story of Elizabeth II. The hero-turned heroine in “Transparent” shared exposure with RuPaul’s Drag Race.” “And for sheer magic, the extravagance of “Dancing with the Stars” demonstrated that it is possible to lavishly costume a weekly television show with as much razzle dazzle as Hollywood’s heyday. 

Although it’s an honor just to be nominated for an Emmy, show biz, be it television or movie, is a competitive game. Somebody wins…and for 2016 shows, judged to be the best, the Emmy went to …..The Crown, Big Little Lies and RuPaul’s Drag Race.  

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Feud: Bette and Joan

The Crown 


The Handmaid’s Tale

My First Dreamgirl: Betty Grable

I fell in love with Betty Grable when I was barely able to talk. My parents told me that as a toddler I called her “Betty Dwable” and used to sit spellbound in the dark movie theatres watching the most famous pin-up girl in the world. Of course I had coloring books and paper dolls of my dreamgirl. (OK, so I probably should have been learning to pitch a baseball, but I didn’t.) At the recent Philadelphia Paper Doll Convention, for the second time in my life I bought my favorite movie star coloring book totally UN-colored. I remember buying it when it was first published by Merrill in 1953. The lush cover captures Betty’s peaches and cream, down-to-earth beauty that once brilliantly described her as "a celestial waitress."

The coloring book is a splendid example of how the old Hollywood Studio Star System perpetuated the myths it created. The book is divided into “concepts,” the first being "Beautiful Betty Grable" and includes her 112 pound weight and diminutive 5-feet, 4 inch height. Next, “Betty’s Exciting Career” declares that she is “famous for her gorgeous costumes." Also revealed is that “She likes to be on time…and likes others to be.” While coloring the well-drawn pages, the kid colorists learned that Betty like dogs, horses, bowling, football, gardening, visiting children’s hospitals and lots of other wholesome activities including breakfast in bed with her mother! 

Such a saccharine story was obviously calculated to turn impressionable kids into lifetime loyal fans, a marketing ploy that worked (…at least on me.) To this day, my must-see stars on Turner Classic Movies are Betty Grable, Doris Day, Esther Williams, Rita Hayworth and Greer Garson. Can it simply be a coincidence that I had coloring books and paper dolls of every one of those lovely ladies? Or was I brain-washed at a tender age by M-G-M? Perhaps other starstruck kids dreamed of becoming movie stars, but I fantasized about being the head of a studio…just call me “Louis B. Wolfe!” 

Betty Grable 1953 Coloring Book

Pages colored today by David

New York Fashion Week Revitalizes Fail-Safe Denim

Once, long ago, down-to-earth blue denim was not considered designer level material. That was then. This is now and the New York runways were populated with denim designs in collection after collection. Some designers remained loyal to faded denim destruction with overly familiar slashing, rips and fraying. Dark indigo denim looked fresh again, taking the fabric right back to its raw roots for innovative designs as well as almost-basics. Denim, a real people-pleaser, deserves its star place as an ever-popular designer show fabric. 

Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Elizabeth & James

Alexander Wang, Carolina Herrera, Colovos

Oscar de la Renta, Anna Sui, Coach

Mixed Bag of Fashion at the Emmys

Politics and diversity got more attention than red carpet fashion at the recent Emmy Awards, a three-evening affair. Two evenings of “Creative” awards including costume design were not televised. “The Crown” won for Period/Fantasy. The winner for Contemporary costumes was “Big Little Lies” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” won in the Variety/Non-Fiction/Reality category. (Reality? Yes.) 

CBS aired the big prime time awards but skipped the usual pre-show red carpet parade. Perhaps that’s just as well as the fashion quotient was hit and miss, depending on the star’s stylist. There was glamour galore thanks to plenty of sparkling sequins and beads plus a few feathers on Tracee Ellis Ross and Zoe Kravitz. Transparent fabrics, usually embellished, were favored by many including Ellie Kemper and Gina Rodriguez. Probably the most beautiful look of the evening was Jessica Biel’s artfully draped sparkling transparency. The old “New Look” above-ankle ballerina length made a comeback on Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Moss. 

Sex appeal appeared as necklines plunged and backs were bared. Red on Issa Rae and many others replaced the usual black as the repeat favorite. Jane Fonda in hot pink looked astonishingly ageless and Viola Davis was a knock-out in sizzling orange. Tessa Thompson wore a whole rainbow. The Emmys kicked-off the Awards Season without making any surprising fashion news but with stylish diversity as the major message. 

Nicole Kidman, Gina Rodriguez, Issa Rae

Jane Fonda, Jessica Biel, Elizabeth Moss

Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis, Ellie Kemper