Southern Methodist University

Alvin Colt design drawings, photographs, and other materials for Neiman Marcus Fortnights

A Guide to the Collection



Overview

Creator: Colt, Alvin
Title: Alvin Colt design drawings, photographs, and other materials for Neiman Marcus Fortnights
Inclusive Dates: 1958-2001
Abstract: Alvin Colt began work in theater costume design in New York in the late 1930s. He worked as a costume and set designer on more than 80 Broadway shows, in television and in movies. From 1963 to 1986, he designed the annual Neiman Marcus store Fortnight celebrations in Dallas, Texas. Each Fortnight had a different country theme. The Colt Fortnight collection includes original working drawings, sketches, designer elevations, blueprints, posters and photographic prints, correspondence from Stanley Marcus to Alvin Colt, and clippings relating to the Neiman Marcus department store's annual Fortnight event. Designs and many drawings are by Alvin Colt. Some renderings were drawn by Robert Eickmeyer and John Duncan.
Accession No: Ag1993.0951 and Ag1993.0951x
Extent: 703 drawings, 33 prints (posters), 1,306 photographic prints, about 150 letters and postcards.
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Alvin Colt was born in Louisville, Kentucky on July 5, 1915. Foreshadowing his future career interest, as a child he built a theater in the attic of his family home. He attended Yale’s department of drama (1934-37) and was the youngest member of his class. He worked in summer theater and moved to New York City. Colt began designing for what became the New York City Ballet. His Broadway debut was with On the Town in 1944. Colt designed costumes for the hit Guys & Dolls in 1950, and in 1957 received a Tony award for Costume Design for Pipe Dream. During his career, Colt designed costumes for more than 80 Broadway shows, television and movies.

From 1963 to 1986, Colt designed the installations for the annual Fortnight extravaganzas at the downtown Neiman Marcus store in Dallas, Texas. The Fortnights were an annual celebration of different countries' culture and design. They were splashy cultural, social, historical, fine art, culinary and fashion celebrations that greatly broadened the horizons of north Texans at the time. They were attended by dignitaries such as the ambassadors from Denmark and Thailand, the Queen of Thailand, Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly, movie star Sophia Loren, and artist Francoise Gilot to name a few. The planning and construction of these events required traveling thousands of miles in two years and took hundreds of people to produce. The Fortnights events were a brilliant blending of commercial, theatrical, and cultural elements. Also included are photographs and correspondence related to Stanley Marcus’s 90th birthday celebration in 1995, in which Colt was involved.

Sources:

"Fashion Fortnights."Women’s Wear Daily, Oct. 22, 1969.

"It’s like all acts of Ringling Brothers Circus."Dallas Downtown News, June 12, 1978.

"Neiman Marcus friends and family share stories as the legendary store turns 90. Alvin Colt, theatrical designer."Dallas Morning News, Sept. 17, 1997, p. 6 E.

"Two for the Fortnight Show. Neiman’s annual bash is a year-long project for these designers."Dallas Morning News, Oct. 16, 1983.


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Colt collection consists of matted elevations, working drawings, blueprints, photostats, photographs, clippings and correspondence relating to Colt’s designs for the Neiman Marcus Fortnights, 1963-1986. The collection illustrates the broad variety of designs created to transform the store with a theme usually related to an individual country. There are 703 drawings and blueprints, 32 posters, and 977 photographic prints which are arranged by year and Fortnight.

Also included is correspondence from Stanley Marcus, Neiman Marcus President and later Chairman Emeritus, mostly relating to the 25 Neiman’s Fortnights and their creation. There are also clippings from newspapers and magazines about the Fortnights and Colt. There are approximately 150 letters and postcards.


 

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 3 series:
Series 1: Matted Elevations, Working Drawings, Blueprints, Photostats, and Posters, 1963-1986
Series 2: Photographs, 1958-1995
Series 3: Correspondence, Clippings, Audio and Videotape, 1963-2001

Restrictions

Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.


Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Colt, Alvin.
Marcus, Stanley, 1905-
Neiman-Marcus.
Costume designers --United States.
Set designers --United States.
Eickmeyer, Robert.
Duncan, John, artist.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Alvin Colt design drawings, photographs, and other materials for Neiman Marcus Fortnights, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, Alvin Colt, 1992, 2002.

Processing Information

The Colt Neiman Marcus Fortnight designs were not arranged in a chronological order nor were they all grouped together by Fortnight. Anne E. Peterson, Curator, arranged them by year and type of process. During processing, the large-scale drawings were transferred to acid-free folders and mylar sleeves. The photographs and correspondence have also been arranged in chronological order and moved to acid-free storage sleeves, folders and boxes.

Anne E. Peterson processed this collection and wrote the finding aid.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2007.


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1:
Matted Elevations, Working Drawings, Blueprints, Photostats, and Posters, 1963-1986
28 oversize folders

This series includes 703 drawings, blueprints and photostats. There are also 32 posters. These materials are organized by subject and arranged chronologically. They are stored in oversize folders. See the end of this finding aid for an Alphabetized Listing of the Fortnights by Country or Subject.
Folder
1,2 1963 Switzerland – 6 working drawings: 6 total
Folder
3 1964 Denmark – 3 matted elevations; 1 poster: 4 total
Folder
4 1965 Austria – 3 matted elevations, numbers 6, 7, 8; 6 working drawings, 4 blueprints; 1 poster: 14 total
Folder
5 1966 "Paris by Night," France – 5 matted elevations, 7 photostats: 12 total
Gypsy Carnival – 1 poster: 1 total
Folder
6 1967 British – 2 matted elevations; 12 working drawings; 2 photostats; 1 poster: 17 total
Folder
7 1968 Italy – 7 matted elevations; 9 working drawings; 5 photostats: 21 total
Folder
8 1969 East Meets West [India, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Burma] – 9 matted elevations: 9 total
Folder
9,10 1970 Ruritania – 2 matted elevations; 5 working drawings; 7 photostats; 17 blueprints; 6 posters; 2 placemat: 39 total
Folder
11 1971 Fete des Fleurs: An Exposition of Flowers and Fashion – 1 matted elevation; 1 working drawing; 2 blueprints; 3 posters: 7 total
Folder
12 1972 France – 3 working drawings; 14 blueprints; 2 photostats; 1 poster: 20 total
Folder
13 1973 British – 7 matted elevations; 7 working drawings; 16 blueprints; 3 photostats: 22 total
Folder
14 1974 Japan – 7 matted elevations; 18 working drawings; 14 photostats: 39 total
Folder
15 1975 Italy – 5 matted elevations; 1 working drawing; 16 blueprints; 3 photostats; 3 posters: 28 total
Folder
16 1976 Ireland – 30 working drawings; 17 blueprints: 47 total
Folder
17 1977 France – 46 working drawings; 3 posters: 49 total
Folder
18 1978 Brazil – 26 working drawings; 15 blueprints; 1 poster: 42 total
Folder
19 1979 British – 2 matted elevations; 1 blueprint with wallpaper sample; 13 blueprints; 2 photostats; 1 poster; 3 smaller posters: 22 total
Folder
20 1980 Los Dias de Espana [Spain] – 47 blueprints; 2 working drawings; 4 posters: 53 total
Folder
21 1981 Orientations – 10 blueprints; 1 poster, 1 Xerox copy: 12 total
Folder
22 1982 Odyssey: Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy – 1 matted elevation; 25 blueprints: 26 total
Folder
23 1982 Neiman Marcus Archives Exhibit presentation drawings for 75th Anniversary; 9 photostats: 19 total
Folder
24 1983 Germany – 39 blueprints; 1 poster: 40 total
Folder
25 1984 Britain Then and Now – 2 matted elevations; 15 working drawings; 40 blueprints: 57 total
Vienna at the Galleria in Houston – 1 poster: 1 total
Folder
26 1985 France-by-the-Sea – 2 matted elevations; 25 blueprints; 2 photostats: 29 total
Folder
27, 28 1986 Australia – 2 matted elevations, numbers 58, 59; 30 working drawings; 30 blueprints: 62 total
Folder
29 1995 Stanley Marcus 90th Birthday Celebration - 9 blueprints: 9 total



 

Series 2:
Photographs, 1958-1995
4 boxes

This series contains photographs of the various Fortnights from 1957 to 1986 showing the elaborate installations. They are arranged chronologically in folders.
Box Folder
1 1 1957 French - 2 photographs
2 1958 British [not designed by Colt] – 3 photographs
3 1959 South America - replica of the fortnight poster
4 1962 Far East - 1 photograph, 10 photostats
5-7 1963 Switzerland – 79 photographs, 5 photostats
8-9 1964 Denmark – 103 photographs
10 1964 After the Fire – 9 photographs
11-12 1965 Austria – 68 photographs
Box Folder
2 1 1966 Gypsy Carnival, Spring – 45 photographs; 1 magazine cutout
2-3 1966 France – 33 photographs
4 1967 Montreal Expo Study – 92 photographs; 7 postcards
5-6 1967 British – 107 photographs
7-8 1968 Italy – 96 photographs
9 1968 Christmas – 28 photographs
Box Folder
3 1 1969 East Meets West [India, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Burma] – 44 photographs
2 1970 Ruritania – 48 photographs
3 1971 Fete des Fleurs: An Exposition of Flowers and Fashion – 10 photographs
4 1972 France – 10 photographs
5 1973 British – 22 photographs
6 1974 Japan – 30 photographs
7 1975 Italy – 11 photographs
8 1976 Ireland – 2 photographs
9 1977 France – 11 photographs
Box Folder
4 1 1978 Brazil – 22 photographs
2 1978 Brazil – 22 slides, 2 negatives
3 1979 British – 19 photographs
4 1980 Los Dias de Espana [Spain] – 14 photographs
5 1981 Orientations – 21 photographs
6 1982 Odyssey: Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy – 21 photographs
7 1983 Germany – 30 photographs
8 1984 Britain Then and Now – 43 photographs
9 1985 France-by-the-Sea – 48 photographs
10 1986 Australia – 21 photographs
11 1995 Stanley Marcus 90th Birthday Celebration – 31 photographs



 

Series 3:
Correspondence, Clippings, Audio and Videotape, 1963-2001
4 boxes

This series contains correspondence from Stanley Marcus, at one time Neiman Marcus President and Chairman Emeritus, to designer Alvin Colt, 1963 to 2001. Total correspondence: approximately 150 letters and postcards; miscellaneous clippings related to Fortnights. A photograph of Alvin Colt, circa 1970, is in Box 5, Folder 2. Collection includes one audiotape and one videotape.
Box Folder
5 1 1962 Far Eastern Fortnight pamphlets
2 1963 Correspondence, Swiss documents and clippings
3 1964 Correspondence
4 1964 Denmark documents, clippings and booklets
5 1965 Correspondence
6 1965 Austria documents, clippings and booklets
7 1967 Correspondence
8 1968 Correspondence
9 1968 British clippings
10 1969 Correspondence
11 1969 East Meets West documents, clippings and booklets
12 1969 East Meets West booklet
13 1970 Correspondence
14 1970 Ruritania documents, clippings and booklets
15 1970 Ruritania catalogue
16 1971 Clippings
17 1972 Correspondence
18 1973 Correspondence
19 1973 British documents and clippings
20 1974 Correspondence
21 1974 Japan documents
22 1975 Italian documents and booklets
23 1975 Italian catalogue
24 1976 Correspondence
25 1976 Irish documents and booklet
26 1976 Magazine "Stores"
Box Folder
6 27 1977 French documents and booklets
28 1977 French catalogue
29 1978 Brazil documents, clippings and booklets
30 1978 Brazil research photographs and negatives
31 1978 Brazil catalogue
32 1979 Correspondence
33 1979 British documents and booklets
34 1980 Correspondence
35 1980 Spain documents, clippings and booklets
36 1980 Spain catalogue
37 1981 Orientations documents and booklets
38 1981 Orientation catalogue
39 1981 Archive gallery documents
40 1982 Odyssey documents and booklets
41 1982 75th Anniversary documents and clippings
42 1983 Germany documents, clippings and booklets
43 1984 Britain Then and Now documents, clippings and booklets
44 1985 France by the Sea documents and booklets
Box Folder
7 45 1986 Australian documents, booklets and miscellaneous
46 1987 Correspondence
47 1988 Correspondence
48 1989 Correspondence
49 1989 French documents and clipping
50 1990 Correspondence
51 1991 Correspondence
52 1992 Correspondence
53 1993 Correspondence
54 1994 Correspondence
55 1994-1995 Correspondence
56 1994-1997 90th Birthday party documents, clippings, booklets and invitation
57 1995 Correspondence
58 1996 Correspondence
59 1997 Correspondence
60 1998 Correspondence
61 1999 Correspondence
62 2000 Correspondence
63 2000 Advertising Hall of fame luncheon catalogue
64 2001 Correspondence
65 N-M small cards
66 Dallas newspaper write-ups
67 Fortnight clippings
68 Photograph of Stanley Marcus
69 Churchill exhibit documents
Box
8 1995 Stanley Marcus audiotape
1983 Stanley Marcus videotape



 

Alphabetized Listing of the Fortnights by Country or Subject

In addition, here is an Alphabetized Listing of the Fortnights by Country or Subject (as found in Series 1):
Australia, 1986 – 2 matted elevations, numbers 58, 59; 30 working drawings; 30 blueprints: 62 total
Austria, 1965 – 3 matted elevations, numbers 6, 7, 8; 6 working drawings, 4 blueprints; 1 poster: 14 total
Brazil, 1978 – 26 working drawings; 15 blueprints; 1 poster: 42 total
Britain Then and Now, 2 matted elevations, numbers 54, 55; 15 working drawings; 40 blueprints: 57 total
British, 1967 – 2 matted elevations, numbers 63, 64; 12 working drawing; 2 photostats; 1 poster: 17 total
British, 1973 – 6 matted elevations, numbers 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38; 14 working drawings; 7 blueprints: 27 total
British, 1979 – 2 matted elevations, numbers 51, 52; 1 blueprint with wallpaper sample; 13 blueprints; 2 photostats; 1 poster; 3 smaller posters: 22 total
Denmark, 1964 – 3 matted elevations, numbers 5, 61, 62; 1 poster: 4 total
East Meets West [India, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Burma], 1969 – 9 matted elevations, numbers 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29: 9 total
Fete des Fleurs: An Exposition of Flowers and Fashion, 1971 – 1 matted elevation, number 31; 1 working drawing; 2 blueprints; 3 posters: 7 total
France, 1966 – 5 matted elevations, numbers 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; 7 photostats: 12 total
France, 1972 – 1 working drawing; 14 blueprints; 2 photostats; 1 poster: 21 total
France, 1977 – 46 working drawings; 3 posters: 49 total
France-by-the-Sea, 1985 – 2 matted elevations, numbers 56, 57; 25 blueprints; 2 photostats: 29 total
Germany, 1983 – 39 blueprints; 1 poster: 40 total
Gypsy Carnival, 1966 – 1 poster: total 1
Ireland, 1976 – 30 working drawings; 17 blueprints: 47 total
Italy, 1968 – 7 matted elevations, numbers 14, 16, 17, 18a, 18b, 19, 60; 9 working drawings; 5 photostats: 21 total
Italy, 1975 – 5 matted elevations, numbers 46, 47, 48, 49; 1 working drawing; 16 blueprints; 3 photostats; 3 posters: 28 total
Japan, 1974 – 8 matted elevations, numbers 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 66; 15 working drawings; 14 photostats: 36 total
Los Dias de Espana [Spain], 1980 – 47 blueprints; 2 working drawings; 4 posters: 53 total
Neiman Marcus Archives Exhibit presentation drawings for 75th Anniversary, 1982; 9 photostats: 19 total
Stanley Marcus 90th Birthday Celebration – 9 blueprints: 9 total
Odyssey: Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, 1982 – 1 matted elevation, number 53; 25 blueprints: 26 total
Orientations, 1981 – 10 blueprints; 1 poster; 1 xerox copy: 12 total
Ruritania, 1970 – 2 matted elevations, numbers 30, 65; 5 working drawings; 17 blueprints; 7 photostats; 6 posters; 2 placemats: 39 total
Switzerland, 1963 – 4 matted elevations, numbers 1, 2, 3, 4; two working drawings: 6 total
Vienna at the Galleria in Houston, 1984 – 1 poster: 1 total