Tag Archives: vintage fashion illustration

1958 – My Year

This August, I celebrated my 58th birthday.  My stepson, now a computer science major at college, taught me all about video games, so I now see myself more as Level 58.  It sounds like so much more of an accomplishment… Anyway, I digress.  So I’m 58 and I was born in 1958.  I like this.  Mom was almost 45 in that year. She and Dad had been married for almost 20 years.  He was a painter. She was the breadwinner. But after 20 years, she decided that more than anything, she wanted to have a baby.  And he agreed.  I was one of those fortunate ones who was wanted and loved.  I never felt a day growing up without the security of feeling that I was the center of their world.  I would give anything to have one more day with them both.  But they surround me still with their work.  This blog is about Mom, but Dad’s paintings fill my home as well.

So what happened in 1958. Here’s a page from my baby book.

My Baby Book from 1958

My Baby Book from 1958

Ike was President, although Mom was a huge fan of Adlai Stevenson, his opponent in the 1952 and 1956 elections.  Averill Harriman was Governor of New York and Robert Wagner Mayor of NYC.  The Polio Vaccine had just been introduced.  It helped wipe out the disease in this country.   Satellites were a new thing – remember Sputnik?  Mom loved classical music, so Van Cliburn and Yasha Heifetz were big on here list of the best entertainers, along with Louis Armstrong, Elvis, Marilyn and Marlon. The great minds of the time varied from Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to existential philosopher Albert Camus to, of course, Picasso.  Doing what she did best, there are sketches of the popular styles of the time, including Trapeze dress and Flower hats! Yikes!!

I love that Mom lives on now and that you all know about her. I decided to celebrate 58 with you by having a sale on Hilda’s site.  All of our 9″x12″ Limited Edition Prints are $58 until the end of August.   And for anyone else who is 58 born in ’58, I’ll put in a  little extra present.  Just let me know.

So here’s to Mom.  She made it to Level 90. Quite an accomplishment.  But it still feels like she’s right here next to me.


Pratt Institute and Groundbreaking Women

Pratt Institute and groundbreaking women. It sounds like right from it’s inception in 1887, Pratt  was a school that encouraged women to fulfill their dreams. I feel sometimes that we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that until recently, women didn’t have our own independent, vital, creative, interesting lives outside of our role as wife and mother.  If not the latter role, then we were cast as spinsters.  As I’ve told you, Mom was seemingly unusual for her time.  Born in 1914, she had a successful career as a fashion illustrator.  Mom attended Pratt  Class of ’33.  I decided to see who else attended there in those days.  In general, I found a lot of famous attendees, if not graduates – actor Robert Redford, playwright Harvey Firestein, fashion designer Norman Norell, painters Milton Resnick and Ellsworth Kelly and even Allen Funt of Candid Camera fame.  The list goes on and on.  Those were the men.   The women blew me away.  Some I had heard of and some not, but reading about their lives reinforced my belief that there have always been  women doing outstanding work in a so called “man’s world”.  Here is a brief overview of 4 fascinating women, all born in the 1800’s.


Djuna Barnes

Djuna Barnes Attended Pratt in 1912

1892-1992. Attended Pratt in 1912

Djuna Barnes was an American poet, playwright, journalist, visual artist and short story writer best know for her novel “Nightwood”.   For more, see here.

Gertrude Käsebier

Gertrude Kasebier attended Pratt in 1889

1852-1934. Attended Pratt in 1889

“Gertrude Käsebier  was one of the most influential American photographers of the early 20th century. She was known for her evocative images of motherhood, her powerful portraits of Native Americans and her promotion of photography as a career for women.” ~Wikipedia. For more, go here

Pamela Colman Smith

Pamela Coleman Smith attended Pratt in 1893

1878-1951. Attended Pratt in 1893

Pamela Colman Smith (16 February 1878 – 18 September 1951), also nicknamed Pixie, was an English American artist, illustrator, and writer. She is best known for designing the Waite-Smith deck of divinatory tarot cards. For more, go here

Sara Louise Delany

Sara Louise Delany attended Pratt in 1916

1889-1999. Attended Pratt in 1916

“Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany (September 19, 1889 – January 25, 1999) was an African-American educator and civil rights pioneer who was the subject, along with her younger sister Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, of the New York Times bestselling oral history, Having Our Say, by journalist Amy Hill Hearth. Sadie was the first Black person permitted to teach domestic science at the high-school level in the New York public schools, and became famous, with the publication of the book, at the age of 103.” ~ Wikipedia  For more, go here

Mom was in good company.  I’m sure there are scores more stories to tell.  If any of you can add one, please post in the comments. The world needs to hear!

5 Fab Fashion Illustration Books

Ahh fashion illustrations. Always on my mind. There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than to curl up with a great book, a hot cup of tea and (hopefully) a crackling fire in the fireplace.  If you love fashion drawings, costumes, movies or all of the above, here are 5 books about fashion illustration of all kinds that I highly recommend.



fashion illustration

Obviously #1 on my list.  Just a few years ago,  not in my wildest imagination could I have made the following statement – Here’s a beautiful book all about Mom and her amazing fashion illustrations!  French publisher Larousse has created this extraordinary coffee table book complete with 140 of Hilda’s drawings and a detailed biography written by my very talented cousin, Jennifer Wittes. C’est en francais, but if you can find a copy where you live, it’s a picture book, so the drawings are a language that everyone can read! In France, you can find it in many places including Amazon.  Magnifique!





David Downton, one of the world’s leading fashion illustrator, has created this stunning book which showcases the work and the lives of the 20th century’s most acclaimed fashion artists, including Erté, Boucher, Andy Warhol and concluding with a portfolio of Downton’s work.  More here.






fashion illustration


This book is a comprehensive history of fashion illustration over the last century and how fashion and it’s drawings reflected the larger political and cultural changes in the world. To see some of the 400 images in this wonderful book, go here.






fashion illustration

To quote the blurb, as it says it all, “A chronological account of the evolution of dress which covers 500 years of fashion, as seen through the art of its period. The illustrations range from early woodcuts through the development of fashion plates and the rise of fashion journalism to the use of film, photography and the Internet.” In other words, how we got to here! For more…






fashion illustration

Mom and I were both movie fans.  I have a fond memory of her waking me up at 2 in the morning so we could watch Pride and Prejudice with Laurence Olivier. It was our thing.  So, needless to say, I love this book. Academy Award  nominated costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis shows how the drawing “provides a blueprint for the creation of a costume and a character”. Over 400 previously unpublished illustrations are featured with a rare view of the portfolios of Hollywood’s greatest designers. For more…




That’s my list.  One more thought, it would help me to know if any of you are interested in perhaps purchasing Mom’s book.  I am talking with the publisher to be able to sell them through our site and it would be helpful to see if there is an interest.  You can post a response here.  Thanks everyone! And remember only 38 more days until Spring!

Fashion Reflects the Times

Styles change with the decades and fashion reflects the times. The flapper girl of the 1920’s freed herself from the corseted  figure of decades before.  Women had just gotten the vote. Traditionally male occupations like secretaries were being overtaken by the ladies. They cut their hair and wore their dresses short and straight. They started taking on traditionally male jobs, such as a secretary. They appear to be dressing for themselves rather than for the men in their lives. The clothes were comfortable, practical and also fun and sexy.  Miriam Rettich, fellow artist and life long friend of Mom’s, told me that she used to wrap her bosom so she looked flat chested. My Grandpa Lazar was quite shocked when Grandma Cilka, who always had long hair, came home with it all bobbed off. It was a feminist revolution of sorts. Modern times! Alicejoyce1926full_crop The look of the 1950s was quite the opposite. The hourglass figure was in and another version of the corset was the thing to wear.  I call it armor.   I mean, really, take a look.  Now I know where Madonna got here wardrobe ideas. tumblr_mfw2wsXmUt1r5kw6ko1_500 And this is what Mom was drawing in those years.

Gina c. 1960

Gina c. 1960

Sheryl c. 1953

Sheryl c. 1953

Gigi c. 1962

Gigi c. 1962

Marilyn c. 1958

Marilyn c. 1958

Roxanne c. 1953

Roxanne c. 1953

I love Mom’s lingerie drawings. They don’t reveal much, but are still alluring. These were women post World War II. The 1920s saw a start of life outside of home and family. Then with the Depression of the 1930s most were scrambling just to survive. The 1940s brought the war and jobs that needed to get done while all the men were overseas. Women were working in factories and building airplanes. It was a new life of possibilities. The war ended in 1945 and everyone was happy to have the boys back.  They had to give up their jobs and, in the late 1940s and 1950s, once again, for the most part, took up the role of mothers and wives and it’s no coincidence with that shift that the fashion changed to exaggerate the female form. The shapely figure was the ideal woman. These girdles must have been hot and uncomfortable and certainly not for Rosie the Riveter. But, generally speaking, she didn’t exist anymore.

The 1960s revolution went back to a 1920s feel. Boyish figures and haircuts. Short straight dresses. Long, unfussy hair. Bell bottoms. Burning bras! The Pill! The children of the women wearing the all-in-one girdle were rebelling and once again, the fashion reflected the new found freedom.

Twiggy Shift  Dress

Twiggy in the 60’s

Today it seems like anything goes. I don’t know what that says about our society, but I do think that more and more, women can be whoever they want to be. And that is everything.

And if you’re loving Mom’s lingerie drawings, they’ve just been added to our collection of Limited Edition Prints at The White Cabinet. And all sizes are 20% off as an introduction of these lovely ladies.

5 Fabulous Female Fashion Illustrators from the 1950s Besides Hilda Glasgow!

Mom certainly was a groundbreaker, but she wasn’t alone.  It took quite of bit of detective work on my part, but here are 5 other women of her era who were also top fashion illustrators of the mid 20th century.  Enjoy!

DOROTHY HOOD (1902-1970)

Drawing by Dorothy Hood for Lord & Taylor

Drawing by Dorothy Hood for Lord & Taylor

Dorothy Hood was born in New Holland, Pennsylvania. With Art Director Harry Rodman, they created “The Lord & Taylor Look” in the 1930’s. She posed her models doing real life activities that the average woman could relate to. She set the standard for the look of the high end department stores and showed customers what the well dressed American Woman should wear. In the 1950s, a motor bike accident hurt her right arm, but she taught herself to draw with the left. She continued to work for Lord & Taylor until her death in 1970.



Dagmar and husband Arctic explorer Peter Freuchen by Irving Penn 1947

Dagmar and husband Arctic explorer Peter Freuchen by Irving Penn 1947

Dagmar Freuchen-Gale was born in Denmark and came to the United States in 1938. She worked for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1947, her drawing was chosen for the cover of Vogue when they introduced “The New Look” by Christian Dior.  For 20 years, starting in the late 1940’s, she taught fashion illustration at the Art Student’s League in New York City.

Vogue Cover 1947 by Dagmar Freuchen-Gale

Vogue Cover 1947 by Dagmar Freuchen-Gale

Her second husband, Peter, was quite a character, as you can see from the photo above. Read about Peter Freuchen here.



Drawings by Esther Larson

Drawings by Esther Larson

I honestly couldn’t find a bio on Esther Larson. I’m including her because Mom knew her and always loved her work.  One of her big clients was Bergdorf Goodman. Mom remembered her well. She said Esther was an amazing dressmaker as well. She’d throw a piece of fabric down on the floor, look at it for a few minutes, take a pair of scissors and start cutting. And she never failed to product a beautiful garment. A woman of many talents and not a blurb on her in all of the internet. So many women, lost to the wind. Here’s one of her later drawings.

Drawing by Esther Larson

Drawing by Esther Larson


ESTA NESBITT (1918-1975)


From the 1940s to the 1960s, Esta Nesbitt illustrated for Harper’s Bazaar, Madamoiselle and the New York Times.  She was also an instructor at the Parson’s School of Design from 1964-74.  After her career as a fashion illustrator, she became a children’s book illustrator, performance artist, xerography artist and filmmaker.

Esta 3

MARY SUZUKI (died 1974)

Portrait of Mary Suzuki. Photographer unknown. Isn't this great?

Portrait of Mary Suzuki. Photographer unknown. Isn’t this great?

Mary Suzuki grew up on a farm in California.  According to her only child Taro, she was very ambitious. “She did a lot of work in the 50’s and 60’s for Harper’s Bazaar and Seventeen Magazine. When Andy Warhol first came to N.Y., he showed her his book and she told him to do shoes and got him some work.” Fellow artist Mia Carpenter said of her work “Her figures were distinguished by the absence of eyes...”. When Pop Art started changing the style of commercial drawings, Mary had trouble adjusting.  After fashion illustration, she illustrated an (unpublished) children’s book, designed Twiggy paper dolls and did fine art oil painting. She showed in the first feminist art show at the Huntington Hartford Museum.  Mary was active into the 1970’s.  In later years she earned a living doing illustrations for clothing patterns such as Butterick and designed clothing as well.


I like to think of Mom and all these ladies gathering at Wally’s (see post “Hilda’s Hangout” from July 7,2011) sketching and chatting, sharing war stories. Who knows?  Maybe Dagmar was complaining about her husband bringing home bear fur and Mary telling us about her suggestion to Andy Warhol about soup cans.  You never know. What I do know is that there we’re made to feel that few women were out there in a “man’s world”. I’m beginning to think that that’s only what they want us to think… but I know otherwise.

A Mother’s Day Memory

I have one vivid memory of a Mother’s Day when I was about 10.  I was starting to experiment with cooking (this phase didn’t last very long) and I had perfected my Egg Foo Young recipe.  I was going to cook this for Mother’s Day breakfast.  I carefully picked out all the ingredients.  I made up a fancy menu which I presented to Mom who was going to get her breakfast in bed feast.  I fried up the onions.  I peeled the shrimp.  The aroma was wafting throughout the apartment.   I had a tray with a flower on it.  I happily presented the delicious meal to Mom.  The only problem was that she had the stomach flu and the smell of it cooking was making her even sicker and the sight of it was even worse.  But she happily accepted my gift and only told me years later that she was ready to run to the bathroom to throw it all up.  Even sick as a dog, she made me feel so special and absolutely loved.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all.  And that includes all of us who do not have children, but instead have chosen the furrier variety!

And as an aside, if  you are going to the National Stationery Show at Javits Center in NYC, please stop by the Hester and Cook Kitchen Papers booth where the Hilda Glasgow line will be on display.  Booth 2844.  See you there!

Where’s Hilda?

Just for fun, I’ve decided to start a little contest series.  Here’s the first one.

I’m so lucky to have been left many things from my family, including many, many photographs.  My grandparents documented their daughters growing up and then my father, who was a wonderful photographer as well as a painter, took over the position.  I always had a camera pointing at me and honestly, I kind of hated it after a while, but then I became a photographer myself which has a touch of irony.  In any case, now I get to share these photos with all of you.  And from the feedback that I get, it seems that you’re enjoying them.

Here’s a classic from about 1926 or so.  I think it might have been Mom’s graduation picture from Hebrew school.  I seem to remember her telling me this.  Mom’s father, Lazar, was an atheist and Cilka was Orthodox. She kept Kosher.  Whatever made her happy, he’d always say.  And I guess this included sending their daughters to Hebrew school.  Anyway, here’s the photo:

Class Picture001-2and here’s the contest:

Which one of these lovely young ladies is Hilda?  The first 5 people who get it right will receive one of our hand mirrors.  Please post on our Facebook page.  Unfortunately because of the cost of overseas shipping, I can only honor responses from the US.  Sorry to all our fans around the world.

Once a month, I will add another contest, so please keep in touch.  And tell all your friends!


I met my friend Joan Rafferty when we both attended the School of Visual Arts as photo majors.  Joan, along with a couple of other women from those days (Katherine Andriotis and Flori Seltzer, fyi), has been a lifelong friend.  She remembers Mom well and has been incredibly enthusiastic about the business.  She came to the first NY Gift Show that I did with Kitchen Papers and stood there quietly looking at all the new products.  She turned and a said “Liz, you have to do a coloring book.”  She remembered all the hours spent with her daughter, Coco, coloring the usual books that were on the market.  She wished there was something more in it for her on a creative level. And so, a coloring book of Mom’s drawings would bridge that divide of playing with a 3 year old, loving how they were growing up, being out of your mind bored and getting to create something fun yourself.   It’s an adult coloring book, so to speak.  But in a clean way…  I took Joan’s idea and ran with it.  Angie at Kitchen Papers loved it and so the process began. Instead of it looking like a traditional coloring book, I recreated the style of Mom’s sketchbook.

Hilda's Sketch Pad

Hilda’s Sketch Pad

And inside are 16 drawings ready for color and then your wall.Coloring Book Images-3Coloring Book Images-8

We introduced this at the AmericasMart Gift Show in Atlanta this past January.  We set up samples and colored pencils and soon,  I had a table full of people happily, peacefully coloring.  Like I’ve found with Mom’s drawings in general, they were transported back to a happy, easy time thinking of nothing more than which pencil to pick. And when they were done, each asked shyly if they could take their drawing with them.  I was smiling from ear to ear.


Jessica and drawing



I wish I had Mom’s original sketchbooks but hopefully they looked something like this.  What a wonderful collaborative effort between old friends from school, new friends from Kitchen Papers, Mom and me.  It’s really amazing to be able to have an idea and see it happen.  I am one lucky lady!

And if you decide to get Hilda’s Sketchbook, I’d love to see what you do with them. Post them to our Facebook page!

Hilda’s Sketchbook: A Coloring Book is for sale now at our store. Happy coloring!

A Bit of Bragging


photo by Randee Daddona

photo by Randee Daddona

I hope I’m not repeating myself too much, as I’ve posted elsewhere about this, but I just wanted to remind everyone that there has been a wonderful article written about us in today’s (2/9/14) Newsday. Newsday, by the way, is the premier newspaper on Long Island, New York. We are the cover of the LI Life section!  Claudia Gryvatz Copquin has written about me, Mom and The White Cabinet.  She’s a great writer and has really captured the spirit of why I started the whole thing.  So if you’re in the New York area, pick up a copy or go online to read all about us!!

Fashionable Treasures from The White Cabinet by Claudia Gryvatz Copquin


A Shared Birthday


Mom was an avid crossword puzzler.  Or possibly fanatic would be a better word. She did the Sunday NY Times puzzle in ink. For those of you not in the NY area, this is the pinnacle of crosswords.  It’s a Sunday thing to sit down with some coffee and a pen (or pencil for those not quite so bold) and spend the day happily toiling over the squares and clues.

Much to my surprise, I found out that Mom and her beloved crossword puzzles had something in common – their birthday was one day apart.  She was born December 22, 1913 in Brooklyn and it was first published in the New York World (in New York as well) December 21 of the same year.  It’s their 100th birthday!  Mom was the 3rd daughter of Lazar and Cilka Richman (originally Reichman) and crossword (originally word-cross, changed because of a type setter’s error) was the baby of Arthur Wynne.  As an aside, Mr. Wynne asked his publisher if he should copyright the game, but was discouraged from doing this as his boss figured it was a passing fad. Let me point out that the New York World no longer exists…

In 1924,  a couple of recent Columbia University grads, Dick Simon and Lincoln Schuster, decided to publish a book of crosswords at the urging of Mr. Simon’s aunt.  And the rest is history.  In that same year, Mom was reading books like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice.  It’s unknown if she owned the crossword book.

The crossword became so popular, that commuter rail lines had dictionaries in every car. There was a Broadway show called “Puzzles of 1925”. And the roaring 20’s wild style lead to inventive dresses with the puzzle as their fabric.  I think Mom would have loved this dress!il_340x270.419428205_oj53


The puzzles live on as do Mom’s beautiful drawings.  I know people are enjoying them both.  Happy 100th Birthday to Mom and Crosswords!