By way of introduction to myself, I would like to tell you that I am a theatrical costume designer with credits for stage, screen, Television Specials, Ready-To-Wear, Las Vegas musicals, Disney, and Disneyland.
For several years I owned and operated my own costume shops in Beverly Hills and Hollywood, where I employed the world-class craftspeople of The Motion Picture Costumers Union. From them, I learned advanced skills of cutting-fitting (pattern-making), custom-garment construction and millinery.
A parallel specialty in career apparel design brought assignments for the uniform programs of Fox West Coast Theaters, Hollywood Park Race Track, Holland America and Carnival Cruise Lines, and hotels, restaurants and casinos all over the world.
I was part of the Disney Imagineering team. They designed the architecture and decor while I designed the uniforms. We won the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Themed Entertainment Association for our combined work in remodeling the Theme Building at LA International Airport (LAX). From 2008 to 2010, I began a new career as a Writer-Illustrator when Ancestry Magazine heard about the book I was writing and asked me to write a column about vintage clothes for their genealogist subscribers. Here are a few of my columns from Ancestry Magazine:
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One day I found myself walking to our clubhouse with a woman who was on her way to a genealogy club meeting. She was carrying old family photographs that she could not date. “Show them to me,” I said. “I can tell by the clothes about when the pictures were taken.”
This simple statement brought an invitation for me to be guest speaker at the next genealogy club meeting and changed my career focus from Costume Designer to Fashion Historian, Author-Illustrator and Columnist for Ancestry Magazine.
I arrived at the genealogy club meeting armed with sketches especially created to illustrate my talking points. There was so much interest in my subject that, for months afterward, people came to me to decipher their treasured, vintage photographs.
Always interested in writing, I decided to write a much needed book, especially for genealogists…But, a funny thing happened as I developed the proposed book: It became apparent that, in addition to genealogists, I would be writing a new kind of history of costume book, of value also to schools, libraries, theatre companies and anyone interested in fashion. I realized that my knowledge of clothing construction and ability to articulate and illustrate changes in fashion would help make other history of costume books…already in libraries…more easily understood.
However, after I finished writing Part One, the 19th Century, and began writing of the 20th century, an interesting expansion of purpose occurred: Having begun my long career when I sold my first design in 1938 at age thirteen, I have been an active observer and working professional for several decades of the 20th century.
When I began writing of the 1930s and 1940s, memories, personal experiences and educated observations began to find themselves on these pages. All by itself, my book had evolved into a personal journal, documenting the evolution of fashion as I witnessed it and the social history that influenced fashion changes in those long-gone years.
It was then that I realized that since we are now well into the 21st century, my information as a contemporary observer is of particular value to people for whom the 20th century is as vague and distant as the 19th century had always been to me. I hope to close that gap for posterity.