The Original Wonder Woman and the Magic of Donfeld
Posted on 08 June 2017
Several years ago, I purchased two original sketches to add to my collection of fashion illustrations. I fell in love with them because of the unique designs and the elegant tall subjects with Modigliani-esque necks. I am also a sucker for illustrations with the original fabric attached and for anything relating to Audrey Hepburn, of course.
A personal fashion design illustration for Mrs. Nicky Hilton in the 1960's by Donfeld
A personal fashion illustration for Audrey Hepburn by Donfeld
My beautiful, treasured art pieces were created by the costume designer Donfeld, who designed the costumes for the Wonder Woman television show in the 1970's. With the release of the new Wonder Woman movie, I thought it might be nice to pay tribute to the costume designer who created the costumes for the original wonder woman, Lynda Carter, and remind movie goers of his phenomenal career.
Donfeld was born Donald Lee Feld in Los Angeles in 1934. He used the name Don Feld for a while and then eventually changed it to Donfeld. He attended Chouinard Art Institute and eventually went to work at Capitol Records as an album cover designer at the young age of 19. In the 1950's, he started designing costumes for the Academy Awards show production numbers.
The 6 foot 5 Donfeld was beloved in Hollywood and known for his "great flair for life, unquenchable interest in films and overflowing humor." He worked with just about every name on the Hollywood's Who's Who list. According to Robert Osborne; "Bette Davis insisted he do her clothes for "Dead Ringer," Ingrid Bergman asked for him on "Walk in the Spring Rain," .. and he'd go anywhere Jacqueline Bisset wanted him, day or night, sun or storm, Europe or Pico Boulevard." Donfeld also designed clothing for his high profile clients for their personal use, like those created from the sketches I acquired.
A Donfeld sketch for Bette Davis in Dead Ringer
Donfeld worked on more than 30 films and dressed stars including Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. in Robin and the 7 Hoods in 1964, Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas in 1964, Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis in The Great Race in 1965, Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses Don't They in 1969, Jill St. John in Diamonds are Forever in 1971, and Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor in 1985.
Donfeld costume sketch for Ann-Margret
Donfeld's sketches were prized for their own uniqueness and style. His designs on paper are instantly recognizable and now, highly collectible.
Donfeld with Ann-Margret in 1965
Donfeld sketch for Elvis Presley Viva Las Vegas
Donfeld sketch for Janice Rule in Hombre
Donfeld costume sketch for Maureen Ohara as Peggy Hobbs in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation in 1962
"Good costume design captures the mood and attitude of the players, their society, their environment," Donfeld (in a 1969 interview with The Los Angeles Times).
Donfeld Sketch for Marilyn Monroe for a 1962 project never filmed A Loss of Roses
Donfeld costume designed for Barbra Streisand's performance at The Coconut Grove 1963
Donfeld's costume sketches for Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses Don't They
Donfeld's costume illustration for Jill St. John as Tiffany Case Diamonds are Forever
The costumes that Donfeld designed for Jill St. John's character "Tiffany Case" in Diamonds are Forever were inspired by none other than one of my personal favorites, Yves Saint Laurent. Donfeld was particularly inspired by Saint Laurent's Rive Gauche ready to wear label and the independent spirit of the modern woman the line invoked. You can see that same inspiration reflected in his designs for Jane Fonda in her role in The China Syndrome in 1979 and in those designed for Anjelica Huston in Prizzi's Honor.
The China Syndrome 1979
Donfeld's sketch for a costume for Angelica Huston in Prizzi's Honor
Donfeld's costume sketch for Spaceballs
So, as you go to the movies to see the NEW Wonder Woman, take a minute to remember the talented man who started it all and the legacy he left us, forever immortalized in his incredible body of work.
Thank you Donfeld!
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