I remember Michael Vollbracht's graphic, artistic runway shows that delighted the press and the socialites alike (way back when he spelled his name, Michaele) though I cannot claim to be an expert on his tailoring or dressmaking skills. I will say that the house of Blass certainly seems to be reveling in rather surprising choices considering it's name and history (first with Slowik, then Nilsson).
I know that right before Bill's death, Michael collaborated with him on pulling together his archives, so there is obviously a strong connection and symbolic thread. But I am not sure how Michael's particular sense of fashion and style connect with that of Bill Blass'. I assume there is more to this than meets the eye.
As far as I'm concerned, the two people who would have seemed like the most obvious choices to continue the tradition of the house, would have been Bill's closest associates and collaborators through the years- Laura Montalban, who was also his muse and looked amazing in everything Bill created...and Greg Natiello who had a brief stint at Halston and then went out on his own. The two together seemed to make a good team, spoke the same language as Bill, knew his customers, clients, and friends intimately, and obviously, they were key ingredients behind the label. But ah, this is the weird world of fashion, where stranger things have happened! So stay tuned...
-by Marilyn Kirschner
Letter to the Editor: Regarding the Appointment of Michael Vollbracht
...Who is making these decisions at Blass? So far as I am concerned they are three for three. Maybe I am the only one old enough to remember Michaels foray into the couture dress biz but I was there. I ordered for - -- and not one piece fit or was cut like any dress we ever saw. He has no idea how to make clothes and never did. Unless he enrolled in F.I.T. in the meanwhile I doubt this one will be successful. Too bad for the name of Blass.
- from a well known fashion publicist
Michael Vollbracht is appointed Designer of Bill Blass
New York, New York, March 3, 2003 – Bill Blass Limited announces today the appointment of Michael Vollbracht as Designer of the iconic American fashion house, Bill Blass. The appointment is effective immediately. His first collection for Bill Blass will be Resort 2004.
Vollbracht will assume direct design responsibilities for the Bill Blass Women’s Ready-to-Wear collection. In his new role he will also define the overall image and positioning of the Bill Blass brand including all product categories, working with all the creative teams.
Michael Vollbracht, whose experience and success are internationally renowned, said he was, "very honored to join the House of Blass and motivated at the prospect of nurturing the continuation of the signature Blass elements: luxurious fabrics, glamorous evening clothes, men’s tailoring, great American sportswear. I want to create elegant, sexy and pretty clothes.”
Michael Groveman, President and CEO of Bill Blass Ltd., added that, "the appointment of Michael Vollbracht brings the needed knowledge of the essence of the house with the right talent level and tremendous experience. We know Vollbracht respects the values, heritage and identity of Bill Blass and that he possesses the talent to drive the house forward.”
Haresh T. Tharani, Chairman of Bill Blass Ltd., said, "the arrival of a great, renowned designer and artist brings the catalyst to the dynamic development of this prestigious house and we are excited about a long and productive association with Vollbracht.”