Author Liz Glasgow with her late mother Hilda Glasgow
It’s not everyday the daughter of a fashion illustrator for Vogue emails you out of the blue.
But that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago when Liz Glasgow, founder of The White Cabinet, emailed me to share her mother’s story of style and entrepreneurship as a fashion illustrator for Vogue, Mademoiselle and Glamour from the 1940s through 1970s.
Liz founded The White Cabinet – home to notecards, invitations, notepads, giftcards, etc. of her mother’s (now) vintage fashion illustrations – to honor the timelessness of vintage fashion art and the spirit of style her mother stood for and passionately lived during her life.
Hilda Glasgow was a first generation Russian-American who trailblazed her way to the masthead of major fashion magazines.
After attending art school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York City, she skipped the typical jobs of the day (secretary, cashier, nurse) and pushed her portfolio to the top. Her first illustrations were for Vogue who, even in the middle of the Great Depression, paid $10 per piece. It was a small fortune – the equivalent of $180 today – and so presumably, her fashion career began.
As Liz writes of her mother’s tenacious beginnings, “It was a great lesson in trusting that you’re on the right road.”
Keep reading after the jump to learn more about Hilda Glasgow and her positive spirit, style and strong sense of self that not only inspired Liz to found The White Cabinet – but will inspire you to remember that your passions are always within closer reach than you think.
This series is open to every reader who would like to share the photos and stories of the women in their lives who have inspired them.
Whether your mother, grandmother, aunt or a teacher, neighbor, co-worker and the like, Stories of Style is an homage to yesterday’s fashion and the stories of the women who lived amazing lives wearing amazing (and now vintage!) style.
Are you interested in contributing to Stories of Style? Email me ([email protected]) for consideration.
Hilda Glasgow – First Generation Russian-American & Female Trailblazer
Fashion illustrations by Hilda Glasgow
My late mother, Hilda Glasgow, was a top fashion illustrator of the mid 20th century.
Her work appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Madamoiselle and Glamour and clients included all the big New York department stores, among them, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best & Co. and Bonwit Teller.
Hilda’s parents (pictured above) were immigrants from Russia, who moved to the United States in 1904.
Hilda was a groundbreaker in many ways. Her parents, Cilka and Lazar Richman, immigrated from Russia around 1904. Cilka, born in 1883, also was a woman way ahead of her time.
At 15, in the little town near Kiev where she grew up, she had a corsette business and after coming to the United States, she opened several dress making shops. She had 4 daughters and wanted them all to have careers, but Hilda was the only one who did.
Mom went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and got her degree in 1933 in Fashion Illustration. She graduated right in the middle of the Great Depression and work was hard to find.
She told her mother that she could take a cashier job at the local Woolworths, but Cilka would hear nothing of that. She kept taking her portfolio around and got her first client – Vogue! They paid $10 a figure, which was a fortune in those days, and her career was started. It was a great lesson in trusting that you’re on the right road.
After Pratt, Hilda attended the famous Art Students League where she studied with Rico Le Brun. There she met painter Bernard Glasgow. They married in 1938. He painted and she was the breadwinner, a very unusual arrangement for the time.
She enjoyed her career, but after being married for about 20 years, Hilda decided she wanted to have a child and so, at almost 45, she had me in August of 1958. Today this is fairly common, but not in those days.
In the mid 1960’s she started to slow the work down. She created a poster series of paper dolls called Cut It Outs and then later had a needlepoint business. She also designed jewelry. She lived a happy and healthy life and died at age 91 in 2004.
Visit The White Cabinet to purchase Hilda Glasgow’s illustrations
Her drawings had been hidden away in a white cabinet in her Manhattan apartment for over 50 years.
In 2010, out of the blue, I decided I wanted the world to see them again, so I photographed everything (I’m a commercial photographer) and started an online store called The White Cabinet as that’s where they lived physically, I thought they should reside there online as well.
I started selling custom printed limited edition prints, then added notecards and acrylic stamps. Now, three years later, I am partnered with a Nashville company called Kitchen Papers where we sell various paper products including placemats, notepads, invitations, napkins, notecards and more. In addition to my online store, The Hilda Glasgow Collection is now in over 500 stores including Nordstrom and Paper Source!
Hilda Glasgow: Fashion Illustrator – Inspiration – Positive Spirit
Author Liz Glasgow with her mother Hilda, who decided to have a full career before giving birth to Liz at age 45.
On staying positive: Mom had the ability to only look forward. She didn’t dwell on things she couldn’t change. She had a full career when few women did. She had a child at almost 45 in 1958. That didn’t happen much then. She saw life with the glass half full and she trusted her instincts and taught me to take a leap of faith.
Most of her life was against the grain. Career, breadwinner, mother at 45. When she moved to a retirement community at age 84, she still gave art lectures and ran the gift shop. She definitely took the road less traveled.
Her story of style: One of my favorite clothing memories was a mustard colored sued jacket with a woven collar and cuffs. It snapped up the front. It was a really cool casual piece from the early 60’s. Mom was in her 50’s by the mid ’60s when fashion went mod.
She loved that clothing. Although she wore very modified versions, she dressed me in fringe vests, mini skirts, chain belts, fishnet tight, white gogo boots and more.
Hilda Glasgow’s 1940s style
On finding her #powerwithin: Mom was a positive spirit, a loyal friend with a “live and let live attitude.” She was very open minded and really enjoyed people who were true to themselves. She hated snobs!
There were certainly challenges for her in starting her career. She just kept moving forward and her perseverance paid off.
She had her share of sadness, like we all do, mostly from the deaths of those around her who she loved. She grieved and then moved forward, remembering the good times.
Hilda Glasgow on the beach with her husband (peeking from the right!)
On her inspiration today: I try to remember her positive spirit. Her motto was “Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.” And I try to do that every day.
She had a small pin that I wear for luck. It’s a black 4 leaf clover with little diamonds at the tips of the leaves and in the center. It’s probably from the ’40s. It makes me feel like she is with me, helping me on this incredible journey.
About Liz Glasglow: Photographer – Entrepreneur – Kindred Soul – #vintagelover
I’ve been a commercial photographer for over 30 years.
The White Cabinet was started in 2010 on whim after I decided I wanted the world to see and enjoy my late mother’s vintage fashion illustrations again. Three short years later, it is a huge success and people all over the world are appreciating her incredible talent.
I’m enjoying every minute of working on this new venture. It honors Mom and keeps her close. I like to call her my very silent business partner.
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