A decade ago artist Jim Howard came to Denver for a paper doll convention, visiting from his home in Taos. That's when Rachel Hoffman, operations manager for local antiques and rare doll shop Turn of the Century Antiques, met him. And as she got to know Howard, she discovered that he wasn't just a master of paper dolls, he was also one of the premier fashion illustrators of the last forty years. This Saturday, April 12, Howard will be at Turn of the Century, talking about designing looks for Revlon, big-name department stores and couture brands, as well as his more recent paper-doll work.
"During the zenith of his career, he lived in New York and did the fashion illustrations for major couture houses like Dior and Givenchy," says Hoffman, who notes that Howard also did work for Neiman Marcus. Some of his illustrations are on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, too.
After Howard's visit to Denver all those years ago, he decided he liked Colorado and relocated here. Since then, she says, he has been a regular face at Turn of the Century Antiques and Hoffman and her family have become great friends with the artist. About six months ago they decided to put together a night of fashion and conversation, so the local couture community can get to know the iconic illustrator now living in the Mile High City.
"His paper dolls are very interesting," says Hoffman. "Hs latest paper-doll book is really cool and it's done off of the women of the night, basically, the hookers of Denver. It's based on the women who worked Market Street as high-end prostitutes in brothels from the late 1800s.
"Jim has other paper-doll books about the '50s, specifically one about Bette Davis," she continues. "He's got all kinds of stuff. He started the paper-doll thing later in his career, but prior to, he had done illustrations for major cosmetic companies and couture houses. He has illustrations that you can look at and immediately recognize, especially if you were into fashion on the '70s and '80s."
Turn of the Century Antiques and the neighboring Brushstrokes Studio-Gallery will host an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12, with Howard speaking at 6 p.m. Food from local restaurants Le Cour, Black Crown Lounge, Accents and Maria Empanada will be available, and there will also be door-prize giveaways of Christian Dior and Escada Barbies. Local high-end resale shop Zoe's will display '80s couture, and Hoffman promises women in ball gowns will wander around the party.
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The event is free, and the first 75 people to RSVP will get a special-edition paper doll that Howard has made just for the event. So hurry and contact Hoffman via the event's Facebook page.