Halston Fashion Illustrations from Halston Style Exhibit

This weekend I, like most fashion lovers, devoured the new 5-part mini series Halston that premiered on Netflix. To my pleasant surprise the series was peppered with Halston fashion illustrations and it got me thinking about Halston Style, an exhibit I went to 4 years ago, in April of 2017 at the Nassau County Museum of Art. (Side note: a museum I actually volunteered at as a docent, many moons ago in my high school years!) I've been to countless fashion designer retrospectives throughout the years but this one is engrained in my head, as it had hands down the most fashion illustrations of any I'd ever even been to and illustrated by the likes of Halston, Steven Sprouse, Joe Eula (Halston Creative Dir. of 10+ years), and Andy Warhol. The collection of illustrations, garments, iconic designs like Jackie Kennedy's inaugural Halston designed pillbox hat (shown below), personal notes and memorabilia from a life long fashion career was curated from Halston's personal archive which he bestowed upon his neice Lesley Frowick with the directive to write a book "because she would have everything she needed to tell his story. She wrote the book, after 25 years, but always felt a companion exhibit was necessary to share Halston's style and sensibilities given the rich volumes he left behind." 
Halston was "ahead of his time in more ways than one, he considered all body types, his designs flattering all ages and sizes. He recruited plus sized vaudevillian Pat Ast to model and be a member of his entourage. Although he was trained in fashion illustration at the Chicago Art Institute, within a few short years he hired Steven Sprouse as official fashion illustrator. Sprouse worked by his side for a few years before making his own mark on the fashion world. Then came Joe Eula [a featured character in the Netflix series] and fashion illustrator extraordinaire, whose gossamer brush strokes brought Halston's flowing fabrics to life in full color." 
As the illustrations are all for Halston they are not signed by the different fashion illustrators that may have penned them, which is typical of any fashion house. But all have a very similar aesthetic: bold confident thick markered lines, filled in with solid washes of color and the occasional pattern. Halston figures are almost always faceless given sometimes a lip and once in a while an eye, but always have a air of personality and elegance to their stance and poses. 
The exhibit took up the entire museum, each gallery filled with a different era of Halston's career. His beautifully design garments on mannequins in the centers of the rooms, sketches lining the walls, countless orchids, and timelines of his career and personal notes from the likes of Liza Minnelli, Lee Radziwill, Beverly Johnson and Elizabeth Taylor in the corridors. It was such a treat to revisit my camera roll and this exhibit again. I hope you enjoyed the Halston fashion illustrations I chose to spotlight, because I have to tell you, there were many to choose from! Who knows, maybe the popularity of the series will have them put the exhibit on again! Wouldn't that be amazing. But in case that doesn't happen you could always pick up Lesley's
(Quotes taken from Halston Style exhibition at Nassau County Museum of Art) 

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Brooke Hagel x Woops! Macaron Collaboration

Today I am launching my first collaboration of illustrated macarons with Woops! and I couldn't be more excited about it. This limited edition collection was created especially for Mother's Day with nurturing, spirited moms in mind. We toyed with the idea of using my traditional fashion illustrations, accessories and even florals, but in the end my iconic bunhead silhouettes won out and I'm so pleased we went with them! I think they're the perfect personality-filled people to send to moms, aunts, grandmas or a  friend to just say "I'm thinking of you." I'm so excited to take my bunheads on this sweet collaborative journey with Woops! by transforming my fashion figures into mothering figures. I was thinking about the women in our lives who are nurturing, loving and spirited, celebrating the women who have raised, supported, encouraged and loved us through it all. This collection is for each person to thank the special woman in their life. If you look closely at the figures you will you find a pregnant figure, a figure holding a baby, a figure with a child, and of course the free spirited strong women that we all admire. 

I created three different macaron designs with my bunheads as well as three different box sleeves for you to choose from so theres something to fit everyone. One box is an all over pattern solely of bunheads dancing, prancing and stretching about (see below), another box is solid faint pink and has the bunheads gathered in a frame around my handwritten note saying “Mom, good job. I turned out perfect.” and the third box is also a petal pink with wider open pattern of the bunheads and a quote in the center typed “Aways together, never apart, Maybe in distance but, never in heart.” Which I thought was a beautiful sentiment for all those who can't be with their loved ones, especially at this time, and after this difficult year. All the boxes have my artist statement on the bottom as well as mine and Woops! logos.

In addition to designing the macarons and the boxes, I also curated the boxes with my favorite flavors. You know I have quite the sweet tooth so I took this job very seriously taste testing all the flavors to find the very best for my favorites box! You can order my assorted curated favorites in a box of 9 or 18. To have them arrive by Mother's Day order's need to be placed no later than May 4th, and all orders ship free! I can't wait for you and your loved ones to try them! 

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2020's Work Wins

I don't typically do a year in review post but 2020 was not a typical year now it. I've been feeling pretty bad about myself for weeks/months leading up to the end of the year thinking about the lack of brand work, well any work if I'm being honest, that I had this year. Being that I primarily live sketch at events and there has been none for nearly 10 months, its been a tough year. Then I read something that said to think about your small wins and accomplishments because this was a tough year, one certainly like none other and you did it, you had those wins. It was like a mini Oprah-light bulb moment for me because I did have some wins! So without further ado I want to share my wins of 2020: 

  • At the start of pandemic I felt helpless. I wanted to do something to giveback to the frontline healthcare heroes aside from donate where I could and 7pm clapping out the window. (Which honestly was nothing short of magical the first few weeks or so! It truly felt like the entire city erupted in applause.) So I started Our Frontline Figures and for weeks had my social media followers submit photos of frontline health heroes they knew. Each week I would choose one and live sketch them on Instagram live then send that person their custom illustration as thank for you all that they've done. It was without a doubt the most fulfilling thing I did all year, giving back to those doctors and nurses who have been risking their lives every day. I received the most heartfelt thank you notes, cards and emails from them that continually brought tears to my eyes.

  • I got BrookeHagel.com up and running! This was and still is a huge one for me. I have owned this domain name for probably over ten years without putting anything into it. Last year I finally started the site but was too scared/intimidated to figure out how to design it. But this year I finally took action! Its still by no means perfect, and theres SO much more I need to polish and add but its up and running with multiple pages like a bio, press page, books I've illustrated page, an FAQ page, a page with different ways to shop my work, which hopefully next year you'll be able to do directly on the site! Its getting there. And I'm proud of myself for finally making it happen because boy did I procrastinate this one! 

  • Shortly after starting my website I also finally started my newsletter! Similar to the site, this is something I've wanted to do yearsss. As long as I've been blogging really. (which is almost 12 years!) And this year I made it happen and I'm SO proud of it! The overall look and feel reflects my brand vibe and aesthetic beautifully and I'm finally able to share directly with you guys straight to your inboxes! Which feels more intimate and special. You can subscribe here if you'd like to join in! 
  • I had my first ever collection launch this year! In the past I've always just created individual products or prints, put them the shop and announced it. But this year I assembled a proper collection, marketed it and launched it all at one time, the Bunhead Ornament Collection. I'm so proud of how my little bunheads turned out. They're meticulously hand painted on handmade ceramic pieces, hung from raw silk ribbon and simply beautiful. A couple sold immediately upon the launch which was wonderful! Not all have sold out, but thats okay, as I can just hold onto them for next year as I plan to do a second collection in 2021.

  • This last one is not exactly (not at all) a work win, but its a life win, and one I think is worth the share because who knows who will read it and perhaps benefit from it. In August I rescued a cat and she's completely changed my life. At the risk of sounding like a witch here I was just never a animal lover. Never one of those people who ran to pet peoples dogs or ogled over a cat but this kitty has completely transformed me. I named her Pearl, because she's white (well she was, now she's turning a bit gray) and because I'm a pearl lover and love that its a granny name. I can't put into words how nice it is to have this cutie to play with, cuddle with and laugh at--because sometimes she's hilarious! She's completely taken me out of my what seems like years long funk. (without going to deep here.) Yes I have to feed her and change her litter, which I was hesitant about beforehand, but I love her so much that its just not so bad. I go out and I miss her! I even got a "Pearl cam" to spy on her! I've become one of those people!! And of course, if you know me, I've made her an Instagram, which you should all follow! The entire time I've been writing this post she's been curled up in my lap and I couldn't imagine my apartment or life without her in it anymore. My little Pearl girl has truly been a game changer and made 2020 and quarentine not so bad. 
I hope you enjoyed reading about my small wins and maybe they inspired you in some way. I'd love to hear about your wins in the comments! Any pandemic pet adoptions? Product launches? Sign up for any classes or make it through a big book you didnt think you could tackle? I'm all about the small wins! Cheers everyone. I hope you have a happy and healthy new year and hopefully we'll all be celebrating small and big wins in 2021! 

Hand Painted Bunhead Ornaments

This holiday season I launched a hand painted bunhead ornament collection in the shop and it occurred to me this morning, on Christmas Eve that I never featured them here on Fabulous Doodles! So in the spirit of the holiday I wanted to bring my little ladies to the blog. I've been drawing and painting tiny croquis (fashion figures) with buns atop their heads since I was in grade school. I even had my first art show at around 15 years old at a coffee house in my Long Island town featuring a small collection of a them. But this is the first time I've ever adorned them on ornaments. If you're familiar with my work or follow me on the gram I'm sure you've seen the bunheads pop up in my IG stories, drawn in digital videos and occasionally sketched over photos but painted onto ceramics is a first!

I had the ceramic ornaments handmade from a fellow Etsy artist out west and I am so pleased with the results! I wanted the pieces to be fully handcrafted and not store bought or from a mold. One of my favorite features of them is actually the back, where you can see the handmade touch in the swirl of the clay and my signature. (You can see details of the back in the listing detail photos!) I grew up with parents who were both potters so I have a thing for ceramics.


I used my tiniest brush for these little ladies, as their hands, feet and limbs are dainty and the little brush almost acts like a pen tip capturing the finest details. I also wanted as many ladies on each ornaments as I could. I've been documenting the ornament painting process on my Instagram stories and I saved them all the highlighted album titled Ornaments if you're interested and want to see the ornaments take shape. I hope my little beauties bring good vibes to your Christmas trees! There are still a couple left for you late shoppers. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!...And to those who don't the ornament is still a nice decorative piece for the home. I'm one of them, and I have one hanging on my office mood board!

Fashion Illustration Gift Guide

As a Fashion Illustrator who's always creating and working with different clients and brands, I'm continually presented with new ways for fashion illustration to be enjoyed. And with the holidays in full swing now fashion illustrations make the perfect present for a multitude of recipients and I wanted to share my favorite gifts with you!

1. ART LOVER - The Print
Grab a gorgeous fashion illustration print of your choice to match the persons personality and decor! ($19 - $43)

2. INSTANT HEIRLOOM - The Hand Painted Ornament 
Limited edition Bunhead Collection ornaments. Each hand painted ceramic ornament features different silhouettes posing and dancing about to brighten both your tree and your mood! Choose the one that will spark joy in your giftee! ($65)

3. PET PARENT - Pet Portrait 
Any pet parent will melt when they see their fur baby has been captured in paint, marker and pencil as a forever keepsake to frame on their walls in a custom pet portrait($285)

4. GADGET QUEEN - Phone Case 
We all have our phones in our hands 24/7 why not give them makeover? Pick a fashionable phone case to resemble your giftee! Is she a bride-to-be? There are bride cases! Is she a yogi? The yoga girls case is a best seller! --Plus get $10 off when you spent $40 & free S/H through link! ($25-50)

A pretty little bookmarks makes the perfect little gift to drop in the mail to a teacher or as an add-on to a book purchase! It's also a great stocking stuffer for any fashion illustration lover when you're budget conscience. ($4.50)  

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide and got some gift ideas! Throughout the year I send more shopping suggestions, behind the scenes of my studio and general goodness in my newsletter. So if you haven't already subscribed you can do so here!

My Fashion Illustration Career Journey

Eleven years ago I started this fashion illustration blog, Fabulous Doodles along with my Etsy shop Brooklit followed by Brooklit Bride. I remember being excited but nervous about putting my work out there for the world to see. I also recall thinking it would be a side job (laughable now!) that fingers crossed could possibly lead to more. Something I'd write once in a while, get commissions from here and there, because that would be nice and who knows, I'd see where it went. What did I know for sure was that fashion illustration was my passion and sitting at a desk in a corporate office from 9 to 5 as I had been was not. (Although I was a Brand Designer for Hearst Magazines, so I did style, shop and design photoshoots and get be creative. It's not like I was selling insurance in my former career.) But I digress.

The day I launched a coworker featured me and my work on her blog, which immediately lead to multiple blog features, some of which were by very big and well known names in blogsphere at the time. Not soon after came my first my first commission for a global brand and then my first feature in a magazine. Every article, job and write up was so exciting! It felt electric. I remember running to my coworkers desk to tell her anytime an email came in with a fashion illustration inquiry.  Not soon thereafter though I lost my job during the recession. I remember crying to a friend that afternoon, not knowing what I was going to do because I'd just resigned the lease on my Manhattan apartment for two more years so the option of even moving home was out...So I kept blogging and following my passion but in those first years it was tough. I collected unemployment, (which back then was a whopping $485 a week I believe) I took odd jobs and even though I was well past my teen years I was back to babysitting again because you gotta do what you gotta do to the pay the rent and bills. But through it all I kept the blog and my Etsy shop going. And I kept taking commissions and promoting my work. Because as I always tell aspiring illustrators, you need to be consistent and passionate about promoting your work because no one else is going to do it for you, especially in the beginning. 
I began to gain more name recognition, clients and my career took off once I began regularly illustrating for Vogue. Its honestly still surreal to me, being a lover of fashion my whole life that I get to type that sentence. But it is, and it was. I've told this story countless times before but being a key part of my journey I certainly can't leave out here, so here it goes. I was blogging, taking commissions and going about life when a fashion PR girl reached out to me to live sketch her midsummer night soiree for fashion bloggers. I said no. This was something I was asked to do frequently but always turned down. I hated it when people watched me sketch, I didn't draw fast and the whole thing sounded overwhelming. Well she was very persistent and kept asking and I eventually gave in and decided to just try it. To my surprise it went really well and I wrote a blog post about it. The very next day I had an email from Vogue's head of events inquiring about my event sketching services! We set up a meeting and within a few days I was sitting in the Vogue lobby with my portfolio fully about to pass out. The rest is history. She hired me for her event and it was the first of many, many events I've worked on with Vogue over the past 8 years. They've sent me to on sketching tours of the country for 3 or 4 consecutive years and have collaborated with brands such as Clinique, Dior, Gap, La Mer, and Viktor & Rolf. Having Vogue as a client opened the doors to meeting many other designers and brands as has just being a guest a Vogue events and meeting future potential clients in person, when Voguers introduce me as their illustrator! Since Vogue I now also work with Burberry, Chanel, Cartier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Harry Winston, Pierrier-Jouet and Mindy Wiess Events to name a few.

I'm sharing all this now is because its a difficult time once again with this pandemic and the economic fallout for many including me and my business which is primarily doing live events--which have obviously have all been canceled in the last 6 months and counting. I'm trying to remain positive though and taking solace in knowing I've gotten through tough times in the past and I'll get through it again. I'm also trying to focus on the areas of my business that are not event based, pivot my efforts and and work on expanding my website, rebranding, and creating a new collection of work. I hope sharing my journey was insightful and maybe even helped you in rethinking your own. You never know how saying yes to one event, writing one blog post or taking one meeting could be launching pad of your career. Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below! And be sure and check out my new newsletter so you don't miss any of the new things I'm working on!