Remembering Michael Vollbracht
A Salute to a True Renaissance Man
Michael Vollbracht was the true Renaissance man of our times. He was an American fashion designer, artist, illustrator, and writer. He began his career at 17 in fashion as a student at Parsons School of Design in 1965. His talent recognized very early at Parsons by winning the Norman Norell Golden Thimble Award. Not long after graduating from Parsons he was hired by some of the most well-known fashion designers of the time, where he worked for Geoffrey Beene, Henri Bendel and Donald Brooks.
In 1979 Michael Vollbracht launched his own line, which earned him the Coty Award. His clothing line was a smash and sold in Bergdorf Goodman’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. The list of names are many of the notable people Michael dressed and befriended, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Joan Rivers, Barbara Bush, Janet Jackson, to name a few.
After many ups and down in the fashion industry Michael Vollbracht came to Florida where he did interior design work and returned to illustrating and painting. In 1999, Vollbracht returned to the world of fashion after Bill Blass, a longtime friend and mentor, asked him to design a retrospective on Bill Blass’s work for Indiana University art museum. The retrospective, curated by Kathleen Rowold, opened in 2002 after Blass’s death. In 2003, Michael Vollbracht was asked to become head designer for Bill Blass Limited. He was the third designer to become head designer for the label. He resigned from the label a few years later in 2007.
Michael’s amazing creativity in fashion is equal to his amazing talent as an artist. He was an illustrator for many fashion design houses such as Vogue and for decades with the New Yorker Magazine. While on staff for Bloomindales he created one of his most iconic designs, which was printed for Bloomingdale’s shopping bags. New Yorkers were walking around with Bloomingdale bags illustrated by Vollbracht.
Michael Vollbracht went on to write and illustrate “Nothing Sacred” his book, a visual diary of his 25 yeas in New York rubbing shoulder with personalities from fashion, theater and movies. The illustrations, painting and collages are extraordinary works showing his incredible talent as an artist. You could listen to Michael for hours, his stories were endless and funny recalling all the amazing experiences and people he had know. Just prior to his death, he was asked to work on illustrations for his longtime friend and designer Iris Apfel book, “An Accidental Icon” and also “Norell: Master of American Fashion,” by Jeffrey Banks and Doria De la Chapelle. Iris’s book includes one of his best illustrations to date showing again his depth of artistic talent.
Michael’s incredible talent was matched only to his overwhelming generosity he gave over the years. He has raised thousands of dollars for many charitable organizations, always giving back to the community. It is with a heavy heart we organize this retrospective, but it will always be with much love and respect when we remember Michael. The collection will include many of the rare original portrait drawings from his book “Nothing Sacred “and a wonderful collection of fashion illustrations and design boards from his clothing lines. All for purchase.
Remembering Michael Vollbracht 1947-2018 will be an Art Retrospective and Sale celebrating the life, work and enduring legacy of artist and fashion designer to be held at Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Class. This special exhibit will present a retrospective of rare vintage paintings, sketches and collages. The exhibition will be open from November 17-30th. With an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. The gallery is located at 247 Main St., Safety Harbor. Gallery hours are Mon – Fri 9:30 – 5:00 Sat 10- 3. For more information you can contact the gallery at 727-725-1808.
Content and images of Michael Vollbracht work was provided by Syd Entel Galleries. Featured image above by BEBETO
(Michael Vollbracht, center, embraces a model after the Bill Blass spring 2004 collection, which featured his designs, during the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York
FASHION BLASS, NEW YORK, USA)