The Hamptons are famous for an effortless chic-meets-classic-prep style that draws fashion gurus from around the world. Something about crisp stripes draped across narrow shoulders and a summer hat tossed atop some beachy waves just chirps “Hamptons.” Pair it with a designer bag, and you’ve got a picture perfect Main Beach denizen. It’s no wonder that Hilda Glasgow’s fashion illustrations from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s fit as seamlessly with the East End as an Hermes scarf does with a Birkin bag.
While Hilda did not grow up or draw on the East End, her illustrations can be found here. Her images graced countless covers of Vogue, Mademoiselle and Glamour, so anyone who picked up a magazine or dropped by a Saks or Macy’s in the last seven decades will have seen her creations. And now, thanks to her daughter Liz Glasgow (shown seated at far right), we can enjoy her sketches in stationery, gift wrap and wallpaper. Three years ago, Liz, a Greenport-based architectural photographer, began cataloguing her mother’s creations, re-creating them on notecards she hoped others would appreciate. Three years, a stationery show, an award and a partnership later, Liz’s business The White Cabinet is flourishing, and her mother’s drawings line shelves and charm shoppers in 550 stores nationwide.
Liz is ecstatic about her success, but an even deeper joy stems from the immortality the business has given her mother. She recalls models sashaying through their Manhattan apartment, her young self rummaging through the famous white cabinet for art supplies that colored her childhood, drawing at a tiny table in the home studio beside her mom. Elizabeth Glasgow remembers a youth splattered with creativity nurtured by her artistic parents. She proudly calls the late Hilda Glasgow a “groundbreaker, way ahead of her time in so many ways.” Liz has good reason for her admiration; her mother truly was—is—an inspiration to female artists.
During a time when few people—let alone women—went to college, Brooklyn-raised and 1933 Pratt Institute graduate Hilda Glasgow was a rarity. When she married her husband and became the primary breadwinner for her household, she turned heads. When Vogue offered the artist $10 per fashion illustration in the middle of the Depression, she became downright exceptional. At 44, she had Liz, who, six years after her mother’s passing, found a way to “honor mom’s life again, rather than her death.” She created an online venue to sell stationery adorned with her mother’s illustrations, naming the business after the white cabinet that housed her art supplies and her mother’s drawings for decades.
The White Cabinet teamed up with the company Flavor Paper and created a feminine gift wrap that they debuted at the National Stationery Show in 2012. After their creation won first place in new products, Liz’s popularity skyrocketed. Suddenly she was offered huge partnerships and product pitches, transforming an ode to her mother into a lucrative “labor of love.” She has settled down as part of the Kitchen Papers Brand, a U.S.-based company owned by a lovely couple that simply “felt right” to her.
New projects on the horizon for Liz and her White Cabinet? Gift tags will be revealed at a show later this month, reprinted color drawings for framing are coming soon and many more ideas are in the works. Liz comments, “I like to call my mom my silent business partner…She must be looking down on me.” Hilda is definitely smiling down on her daughter; Liz has settled nicely into the East End, where the hedge lines and crisp streets reflect the simple beauty of the drawings that remind her of mom.
You can find products from The White Cabinet at thewhitecabinet.com and in stores across the country, including Verbena in Greenport and Coastal Home in Bridgehampton.