Michael Vollbracht is a modern day Renaissance man. He is an accomplished artist, a distinguished fashion designer, a published author and an international illustrator. His illustrations are found across the world and his paintings are in many public and private collections including those of Mrs. Gerald Ford, Diane von Furstenberg and Elizabeth Taylor.
Born in 1947 in Quincy, Illinois, Michael Vollbracht began his career in 1965 as a student at the Parsons School of Design in New York City He graduated in 1969, winning the Norman Norrell Award, the school’s highest honor, named for the legendary American designer. The award was presented to Michael by Bill Blass and thus began a long and lasting friendship.
In 1969, Geoffrey Beene selected Michael to become a member of his design team. In 1971, his talents were recognized by Donald Brooks, who hired him to work under his label as the designer for Boutique Donald Brooks. Vollbracht joined the elegant store Henri Bendel in 1973 as their in-house illustrator.
In 1975, Vollbrecht began working for Bloomingdale’s illustrating the stores’ advertisements. Vollbracht’s modern works became instantly recognizable, including his design of the now-iconic Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. It bore his sketch and his name – but not the store’s name. An error had occurred and was only discovered after nine million bags had been printed. It was a great story that made him a sensation.
In 1979, Michael launched Michael Vollbracht LTD. His collection was known for its bold shapes and great graphic prints. It was sold in boutiques and major department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Ave. After just one year in business, Michael received the prestigious Coty American Fashion Critics Award for Designer of the Year.
In 1985, Vollbracht wrote, illustrated and published his book Nothing Sacred a visual memoir and diary of his 25 years in New York. In that same year, he closed his design house and moved to Florida to concentrate on his art and illustrations.
In 1999 Michael’s great friend and mentor, Bill Blass called on him to work with him on “Bill Blass: An American Designer” the retrospective exhibition of Blass’ career at Indiana University’s art museum in 2002; and to edit the coffee-table book that accompanied the exhibition. Vollbracht spent months going through Blass’ archive of suits, dresses and evening gowns to prepare for the retrospective. After Bill Blass died in 2002, Michael Vollbracht was appointed Artistic Director of Bill Blass Ltd..
After five years as designer, Michael made the decision to once again leave the hectic fashion world and his elegant gray offices to return to his peaceful cottage in Florida and pursue his art career full time.