Person

Prudence Harvey

Sketch of a bearded figure wearing sunglasses, a checked-jacket, collared shirt, and slacks

Back when I met Willi around 1963, my last name was Strickler. Willi, Alvin Bell, and a group of their friends used to come by my shop Prudence and Strickler. We specialized in leather goods from apparel to accessories.

When I attended the Digits and WilliWear fashion shows, Willi used to jokingly say to everyone, “This is my first boss! I used to be so intimidated by her.”

I met Willi when he was at the Philadelphia College of Art, and he was extremely shy. He came into my store one day and offered to draw illustrations for potential designs that I could produce. I saw his amazing talent and hired him—I had him draw at least 10 sketches a day to improve his abilities. We were able to fabricate his designs for 30 of the store’s clients, and his sportswear designs were the most popular.

Willi wanted to continue a career as a fashion designer, and I suggested that he should attend Parsons. In the spring of 1965, I took Willi to New York with the sketches I had him create for a portfolio. The interviewers loved him and admitted him, starting his evolution into the great designer he became.

Sketch of a bearded figure wearing sunglasses, a checked-jacket, collared shirt, and slacks

Menswear Illustration, Sightseeing Spring 1985 Collection, 1984