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Guide to the Michaele Vollbracht fashion illustrations, circa 1972-1986

Collection Overview

Kellen Design Archives
Creator - Illustrator
Vollbracht, Michael, 1947-
Michaele Vollbracht fashion illustrations, circa 1972-1986
16.2 linear ft: 6 oversize boxes, 2 oversize folders
Fashion illustrator Michaele Vollbracht (1947- ) graduated from Parsons in 1968, and has since returned periodically as a visiting critic. After working as a design assistant for Geoffrey Beene, Donald Brooks, and Norman Norell, Vollbracht turned to fashion illustration and portraiture. In 1985 Vollbracht published Nothing Sacred, an illustrated memoir, and in 2000 Parsons mounted an exhibition of his work to celebrate the release of the updated version of the book. The bulk of the collection is comprised of fashion illustrations and designer portraits Vollbracht created for a 1972 fashion show celebrating Parsons School of Design's 75th anniversary and the establishment of the school's Gimbel Library.

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Biographical note

American designer and illustrator Michael Vollbracht (a.k.a. Michaele Vollbracht) was born in Quincy, Illinois in 1947. After graduating in 1968 from Parsons School of Design (now Parsons The New School for Design), where he earned the school’s Golden Thimble Award, Vollbracht worked as an assistant to Geoffrey Beene until 1969. Vollbracht designed for Donald Brooks (1969-1971) and Norman Norell (1971-1972) before shifting his attention to fashion illustration and graphic design.

Vollbracht became an illustrator for Henri Bendel. In 1975, Bloomingdale’s commissioned him to create a shopping bag. The result was a unique design that garnered the artist considerable recognition. Neither the department store’s name nor any other type of advertisement were included -- only the stylized portrait of a woman and the artist’s signature appeared on the bag. Vollbracht went on to form a successful fashion company, Vollbracht Design Studies, in 1977. His colorful, uniquely patterned designs appealed to both celebrities and the general public, earning him the Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1980. The mid-1980s saw Vollbracht with three ready-to-wear clothing lines along with multiple manufacturing contracts for a wide variety of products.

At the pinnacle of his success, Vollbracht retired from the fashion industry to focus on illustrating. His work has been featured in Vogue,  The New Yorker and in his illustrated memoir,  Nothing Sacred (1985). In 1999, Vollbracht collaborated with Bill Blass to co-write the biography  Bill Blass: An American Designer and to curate a retrospective of Blass’ work at the University of Indiana. After Blass died in 2002, Vollbracht returned to fashion design, becoming the creative director of the late designer’s successful clothing line until 2007, when he once again returned to a full-time career as an artist.


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Scope and Contents of Collection

The bulk of the collection consists of mixed media fashion illustrations and portraits of 20th century American fashion designers created by Michaele Vollbracht.

The first series includes fashion illustrations possibly inspired by magazine photographs or illustrations. The drawings are rendered in a palette of black, white, and red. Some drawings feature explanatory notes identifying magazine publication dates and the apparel depicted, but no evidence of when Vollbracht created them.

The second series consists of illustrations published in a program designed by Cipe Pineles Burtin for a student and alumni fashion show marking the 75th anniversary of Parsons School of Design and the establishment of the school's Gimbel Library in 1972. The series is comprised of portraits of American fashion designers and an illustration depicting a costume by each designer.

The third series consists of posters designed by Vollbracht depicting Hollywood film stars Gary Cooper and Marilyn Monroe, and Bloomingdale's publicity materials designed by Vollbracht, including his iconic shopping bag, a clipping of an advertisement, and a drawing.


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Arrangement note

Organized in 3 series:

  1. Fashion illustrations, circa 1972
  2. Illustrations for catalog, circa 1972
  3. Posters and Bloomingdale's publicity materials, 1976-1986

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Kellen Design Archives October 5, 2010

66 5th Ave./
lobby level/
New York, NY, 10011

Use Restrictions

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the Kellen Design Archives. Please contact: archivist@newschool.edu.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Materials in Series III. donated by Michaele Vollbracht, 2000.

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Related Materials

Additional records pertaining to the 1972 student and alumni fashion show will be found in the Kellen Design Archives' records of the Parsons School of Design Fashion Design Department (PIC.02.002.1), as well as samples of Michaele Vollbracht's student work created while attending Parsons. The fashion show program designed by Cipe Pineles Burtin will be found in the Kellen Design Archives' records of Gimbel Library (PIC.08). Additional illustration work by Vollbracht for a Norman Norell retrospective will be found in the Parsons School of Design Exhibition records (PIC.05.004)

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Keywords for Searching Related Subjects

Corporate Name(s)

  • Bloomingdale’s (Firm).
  • Parsons School of Design.


  • Fashion illustrations (layout features).
  • Posters.


  • Fashion illustrators.


  • Fashion designers -- United States -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.
  • Fashion drawing.
  • Women's clothing -- United States -- 20th century -- Pictorial works.

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Collection Inventory

Title Box Folder
Series I. Fashion illustrations circa 1972-1986  OSxxx-2 10-11
OSxxx-3 9-10
OSxxx-1 1-7

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Series II. Illustrations for catalog circa 1972 
Designer portraits 
Title Box Folder
Unidentified designers  OSxxx-2 1
Adri  OSxxx-2 2
Adrian, Gilbert  OSxxx-2 2
Amey, Ronald  OSxxx-2 4
Booher, Jeannene  OSxxx-2 5
Brigance, Tom  OSxxx-2 2
Brooks, Donald  OSxxx-2 2
Capraro, Albert  OSxxx-2 3
Copeland, Jo  OSxxx-2 3
Ebker, Nancy  OSxxx-2 6
Johnson, Bosha  OSxxx-2 7
Justin, Jane  OSxxx-2 3
Kasper, Herbert  OSxxx-2 3
Larson, Barbara [not in catalog]  OSxxx-3 1
McCardell, Claire  OSxxx-3 1
Moore, John  OSxxx-3 1
Morgan, Donna  OSxxx-2 8
Norell, Norman  OSxxx-3 2
Paschalides, Kathy  OSxxx-2 9
Ribando, Peter  OSxxx-3 4
Rompollo, Dominic  OSxxx-3 2
Simonelli, Donald  OSxxx-3 2
Smith, Bill  OSxxx-3 3
Smith, Willi  OSxxx-3 5
Story, Jennifer  OSxxx-3 6
Tiel, Vicky  OSxxx-3 7
Unger, Kay  OSxxx-3 8
Weinberg, Chester  OSxxx-3 3
Fashion illustrations 
Title Box Folder
Adri  OSxxx-4 2
Adrian, Gilbert  OSxxx-4 2
Banton, Travis  OSxxx-4 3
Booher, Jeannene  OSxxx-4 3
Brigance, Tom [different illustration in catalog]  OSxxx-4 4
Brooks, Donald  OSxxx-4 4
Capraro, Albert  OSxxx-5 1
Copeland, Jo  OSxxx-5 1
Ebker, Nancy  OSxxx-5 2
Elias, Erika  OSxxx-5 2
Johnson, Bosha  OSxxx-5 3
Justin, Jane  OSxxx-5 3
Kasper, Herbert  OSxxx-5 4
Larson, Barbara [not in catalog]  OSxxx-4 1
McCardell, Claire  OSxxx-5 5
Moore, John  OSxxx-5 5
Morgan, Donna  OSxxx-5 6
Paschalides, Kathy  OSxxx-5 6
Ribando, Peter  OSxxx-6 1
Rizzo, Frank  OSxxx-6 1
Rompollo, Dominic  OSxxx-6 2
Scott, Ken  OSxxx-6 2
Sharaff, Irene  OSxxx-6 3
Simonelli, Donald  OSxxx-6 3
Smith, Bill  OSxxx-6 4
Smith, Willi  OSxxx-6 4
Story, Jennifer  OSxxx-6 5
Tiel, Vicky  OSxxx-6 5
Unger, Kay  OSxxx-6 6
Weinberg, Chester  OSxxx-6 6
Williams, Arthur  OSxxx-4 1

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Series III. Posters and Bloomingdale's publicity materials 1976-1986 
Title Box Folder
Bloomingdale's, circa 1976  k_OSxx-2 7
Title Map-case Folder
Posters, circa 1985-1986  C 1 4

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Collection guide Last Updated: 08/30/2012

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