Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

The mystery of Mabel E. Johnston, who drew beautiful costumes | MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Originally posted on MCNY Blog: New York Stories.

In 1978, the Museum received a collection of costume design renderings that featured the work of well-known theatrical designers such as Boris Aronson, Charles Le Maire, and Vincent Minnelli.  Also included in the gift were over 150 renderings by the donor, a Miss Mabel E. Johnston. Johnston’s drawings  feature a wide range of designs, everything from the whimsical to the outrageous to the strangely elegant, but almost nothing is know about her. When was she born? How did she get started as a designer? And where did she find inspiration? In putting together this blog post, I’m not sure which was more difficult:  unearthing information on Johnston or having to choose only 12 drawings to showcase from her incredibly rich body of work.

The first tidbit I found comes from the Forty-Sixth Annual Report of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, noting that a Mabel Emma Johnston graduated with a diploma from the Department of Industrial Art in 1922. The report also reveals that earlier that year she was awarded two prizes for costume design in the competition “Good Taste in Dress for Young Girls.”  Below is one of her winning designs, a golfing outfit. As part of the prize, the costume design was built by Hattie Carnegie’s company and given to Johnston at the awards ceremony held…

via The mystery of Mabel E. Johnston, who drew beautiful costumes | MCNY Blog: New York Stories.

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