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Designer Michael Vollbracht to display drool-worthy collection of antique fashion in Thursday night benefit in Ybor City

Michael Vollbracht's arranges a custom made neckless on an Oscar De La Renta from the 1970's part of his collection that will be on display for a charity event. - Michael Vollbracht, former head designer for Bill Blass, abandoned his collection of classic couture from 1910s Lanvin to 1960s Christian Dior in a back room of his Safety Harbor home for far too long. Most of the molded collection wasn't salvageable. The pieces that partially survived will be put on display at Lot 1901 E 2nd Avenue in Ybor City, for charity in support of the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Breast Center at St. Joseph's Hospital. The fashion and art installation will be a map of Vollbracht's life and fashion history.

Jim Damaske/Times

Michael Vollbracht's arranges a custom made neckless on an Oscar De La Renta from the 1970's part of his collection that will be on display for a charity event. - Michael Vollbracht, former head designer for Bill Blass, abandoned his collection of classic couture from 1910s Lanvin to 1960s Christian Dior in a back room of his Safety Harbor home for far too long. Most of the molded collection wasn't salvageable. The pieces that partially survived will be put on display at Lot 1901 E 2nd Avenue in Ybor City, for charity in support of the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Breast Center at St. Joseph's Hospital. The fashion and art installation will be a map of Vollbracht's life and fashion history.

12

January

In my hands was a masterwork, ravaged by humidity, but something so special I could never dream of creating anything like it. 

It was a single piece of Kelly green fabric wrapped and folded to make a Palazzo pant jumpsuit trimmed in feathers. THERE WERE NO VISIBLE SEAMS. Do you know how hard that is? Do you?? Look at the pants you're wearing now and count the seams. I'll wait. 

See. There's at least four, right? And depending on the fabric weight, they are probably pretty prominent.

This jumpsuit is the missing link. It's high art. It's also falling apart.

Michael Vollbracht, a fashion designer who has worked at Geoffrey Beene, had his own lines at Saks Fifth Avenue, and served as head designer at Bill Blass from 2003 to 2007, found this 1960s Roberto Capucci garment in a New York City thrift store -- along with dozens of other designer looks that could be considered fashion history -- and kept it locked away in his personal collection for decades.

Most of the looks rotted away in his Safety Harbor home, but the surviving pieces are being repurposed and wheeled out for the world to see at a charity show at Lot 1901, 1901 E 2nd Ave. in Ybor City, 6 p.m. Thursday night. 

For $30, which will go toward supporting the Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Breast Center at the St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, you can see 20 carefully curated pieces from 1980s Valentino power suits to 1920s Charles Worth shifts. Sprinkled in will be some of Vollbracht's own work including dresses worn by Lady Gaga, Oprah and Beyonce'. Fans of his illustration work can also purchase his sketches with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the breast center. 

There are quite a few must sees in the collection including a Balenciaga coat and a vintage, velvet James Galanos jumpsuit. Many are too damaged to be worn again. That's why the show is called Though Tattered and Torn. The clothes are special now, not just for the original wearer, but for every person that sees them. They're symbols of bygone eras and once-in-a-generation workmanship. It's not that they've lost their beauty in the Florida humidity, they've just come into their second phase of existence. 

Now, please excuse me while I try to figure out how to make a Palazzo pant jumpsuit out of single piece of fabric to wear Thursday night. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:42pm]

    

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