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Bill Blass  NY Fashion Week Fall 2004

Fashion Ledge - Bill Blass
Michael Vollbracht was born in 1947 in Quincy, Illinois. He studied for three years at the Parsons School of Design in New York, where his drawings and sketches quickly gained notice. In 1969, Geoffrey Beene selected him to become a member of his design team, where he became an integral part of the house, and in 1970 was chosen to design Beene Bazaar. In 1971, his talents were recognized by Donald Brooks, who hired him to work under his label as the designer for Boutique Donald Brooks for two years.

Vollbracht joined Henri Bendel in 1973 as their in-house illustrator for the New York Times. In 1975, he began working for Bloomingdale’s where he illustrated the store’s ads featured in The New York Times and Vogue. Vollbracht’s modernistic works became internationally known, but it was his signature illustration for a Bloomingdale’s bag that caused the biggest sensation.

In 1979 Vollbracht launched the Michael Vollbracht collection. The collection, known for its bold shapes and graphic prints, was sold across the country at boutiques and major department stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In 1980, after just one year of business, Vollbracht received the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics Award, Designer of the Year. Over the next five years, Vollbracht also designed Michael V swimwear for Sofere, Mike Vollbracht Sports and Vollbracht Too for Manhattan Industries, as well as bed linens for Burlington.

In 1985, Vollbracht wrote, illustrated and published, Nothing Sacred, now a collector’s item, a visual diary of his 25 years in New York City and the glamorous personalities he interacted with from the worlds of fashion, stage and screen. In that same year he closed the doors of his business to concentrate on his fashion illustrations and art. Vollbracht was selected in 1989 by The New Yorker as one of their top illustrators, producing collages and drawings for them for over half a decade.

From 1999 to 2002, Vollbracht, worked with Mr. Blass on Bill Blass: An American Designer, and the retrospective exhibition of Blass’ career at Indiana University’s art museum in Bloomfield, Indiana, which opened in October 2002.

Michael Vollbracht is a true Renaissance man: a fashion designer, a painter, an author and an illustrator. His illustrations are internationally known and his artwork is included in many private collections, among them former President Gerald Ford, Diane von Furstenberg and Elizabeth Taylor.

Written by: Written by Yvette N Coleman
Photography by C. Yohance DeLoatch
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