Illustration Inspiration: A Look at the Ghosts of America’s Fashion Past

In the late 1950s, three New York designers combined their fashion design know-how to establish the Creator Studios, located on New York City’s Seventh Avenue. A pioneering idea of the time, the designers Walter Teitelbaum, Leo Boren and Howard Steel illustrated original sketches of in-demand couture trends and ready-to-wear styles. Design manufacturers across America would pay a fee subscription for the looks the studio marketed as “Not yesterday’s, but tomorrow’s fashions today.”

1957: Sashed cocktail dress with novelty closings at shoulders

1957: Sashed cocktail dress with novelty closings at shoulders

The fashion sketches colorfully illustrated women’s coats, dresses, sportswear and suits offering manufacturers insight on the latest fashion, fabric, trimmings, and details.

The vast collection of the 1,089 illustrations is now available online at the New York Public Library. For aspiring designers and established brands alike seeking inspiration for their next range, the collection offers a window into two formative decades – the 1950s and 1960s – hat saw fashion truly revolutionized.

These sketches, dictated by current and upcoming fashion trends would help design manufacturers and fashion industry players stay ahead of consumer demand trends. Artists were deployed to attend runway shows and draw what they recalled from memory on the spot, a technique that required deft illustration skills and sharp memory.

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