Friday, December 17, 2010


photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

First Lady Michelle Obama in vintage Norman Norell at "Christmas in Washington" show

It’s truly funny how things happen…

This week, I was in a few different locations knee deep in archives researching various fashion show spectaculars that Eleanor Lambert staged in the 1940s and 1950s. I kept thinking about Norman Norell - and his work kept coming up time and time again. Of course, he was from Miss Lambert’s home state of Indiana, he was the very first winner of a Coty Award and he won so many Coty Awards that they created a new category of award – The Coty Hall of Fame. In addition, Miss Lambert was his publicist and dear friend. During my research this week, I came across some incredible pictures of four Norman Norell designs that were featured in The New York Times from 1958 and I really wanted to do a post on Norell but I kept thinking that I did not want to overdo it.

Then… our First Lady Michelle Obama makes history this week at “The Christmas in Washington” concert in Washington, DC dazzling in one-of-a-kind vintage number by designer Norman Norell!!

According to the The Huffington Post, The First Lady picked up the black-lace overlay dress, which boasted a full tea-length tulle style skirt and a square neckline (something rarely seen in contemporary designs), at New York Vintage boutique, signaling what store owner Jon Schneck believes to be the first time a first lady has worn a vintage dress to a public event, reports donned the elegant 1950s piece.

Maybe Michelle Obama will wear a vintage Norell sequined mermaid gown to a state dinner... here's hoping!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Diahann Carroll & Richard Kelly in Donald Brooks' Costumes for the Broadway Play "No Strings"

Carol Burnett in "Fade Out-Fade In"

Liza Minelli with Judy Garland after a performance of "Flora the Red Menace"

As I mentioned in my last post, Donald Brook’s passion, as well as the majority of his career, belonged to stage design.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Brooks campaigned to design costumes for the 1962 production of "No Strings" starring Diahann Carroll. He presented his concept to the producer Richard Rodgers on a black model. "That sealed the deal for him," said Brook’s sister Kay Blick.

Donald Brooks received a Tony nomination for "No Strings" and the first of three Oscar nominations, for "The Cardinal," in 1963, the same year he won his first Coty Award.

Mr. Brooks designed costumes for more than 20 Broadway shows, including "Flora, the Red Menace" with Liza Minnelli and "Fade Out, Fade In" with Carol Burnett, both in 1965, and was elected to the nominating committee for the Tony Awards in 1992. He won an Emmy for his designs for Lee Remick in the 1982 television film "The Letter."

source: New York Times, Eric Wilson, August 3, 2005