Michaele Vollbracht (b. 1947) studied at Parsons School of Design from 1965-1967. His career began as a design assistant on Seventh Avenue to Geoffrey Beene, Donald Brooks, and Norman Norell, bouncing back and forth amongst them until 1972 when he decided that design assisting was not his passion and turned instead to fashion illustration and graphic design. Working first as an illustrator at Henri Bendel until 1974, his first fame came when working for Bloomingdale’s in 1975 when he designed a shopping bag that pictured an idealized woman’s face, his signature, and no store name. The bag became a symbol of reverse chic and a huge hit.
At the age of 29 Vollbracht was a top illustrator, but a desire to design clothing was still with him. In 1977 he opened Vollbracht Design Studios. His first collection in 1978 consisted of caftan- and kimono-like dresses made of bold, bright patterned hand silk-screened Belotti silks. His collection quickly gained an avid celebrity following who admired the attention-grabbing designs.
In 1979 Vollbracht began designing swimwear for Sofere and in 1981 he expanded into a ready-to-wear line called Vollbracht Too. Michaele Vollbracht Sport was launched in 1983 (the ‘e’ was added to his name to make himself more exotic for publicity and marketing purposes).
Dubbed “a fashion comet” by Newsweek magazine in 1981, Michaele Vollbracht’s career appeared to be blazing but in 1985 his major financial backer, Johnny Carson, pulled his support while he was divorcing his wife. Unable to obtain financing elsewhere, Vollbracht discontinued his custom business and in 1987 he retired from 7th Avenue to concentrate on illustration, but he wasn’t finished with 7th Avenue just yet. Vollbracht returned when he picked up the reins as head designer for Bill Blass after Blass’s death in June of 2002.
Written by kickshawproductions
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