Fashion illustration strengthens its strength within the industry, no longer competing with photography
Fashion illustration is on the rise in our industry and imposes its own rules of engagement. For decades, illustration was supplanted by photography which perfectly suited the needs of brand marketing and communications departments, while highly paid art directors, models and photographers crafted beautiful editorials for consumers to ponder. magazines. Where Kenneth Paul Block once sketched the clothes as they appeared on the New York runways from his front row seat, a bank of photographers captured every design detail and could have the images in the hands of media managers social almost immediately.
But print media has declined in importance, and beautifully photographed content is within reach of any smartphone owner who is in the right place at the right time. Fashion illustration has gained popularity on social media during lockdown, but exquisite fashion illustration cannot be achieved with the latest Apple technologies or filters. Fashion illustrators no longer need to compete with photographers and are convinced that the two art forms can exist independently but side by side. Recent industry activity only reinforces this belief.
Nick Knight, in his mission to push the boundaries of online fashion communication, regularly invites fashion illustrators to interpret the runways for his SHOWStudio website. This week, in collaboration with *V Magazine*, Knight called on the illustrator community to project their artwork onto the bodies of models wearing Schiaparelli and Viktor & Rolf spring haute couture, seamlessly blending the two-dimensional and three-dimensional aspects of haute couture creation. Fida (Fashion Illustration and Design Awards) has just concluded a series of reviews in which industry leaders were asked to critique the artwork of Fida members who were drawing live from Simone Rocha’s London collections, Halpern and Molly Goddard, among others. Critics included Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki OBE, illustrator Richard Haines, and scholars from internally renowned fashion schools such as Parsons New York, CSM in London, Mumbai School of Fashion, and Istituto Maragoni Florence.
Live drawing returns to the catwalks
Jack Irving invited a handful of illustrators to his recent London fashion show to capture the theatrical bouncy creations that made the designer a Lady Gaga favourite, while elsewhere in the city an exhibition of the illustrator’s work Gladys Perint Palmer fashion has wowed London Fashion Week attendees, including Suzy Menkes, away from their busy catwalk schedule. During Paris Fashion Week, British designer Giles Deacon hosted a live drawing class in collaboration with Perfect magazine featuring models that included Bimini, the star of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, made up by Pat McGrath and styled by Richard Quinn. Influencers and editors hunched over drawing boards earnestly sketching models posing fashionably in an art room isn’t a sight we’re used to seeing on fashion week enthusiast social media. fashion. Deacon has previously led illustration workshops for brands ranging from Apple to Alexander McQueen’s Sarabande Foundation.
Connie Gray, co-founder of fashion illustration gallery Gray MCA in London, told FashionUnited in January at the New York launch of their Drawing on Style exhibition at the Masters of Drawing event: ” Fashion illustration, until recently, had almost been second tier. It had been slightly looked down upon because it was illustrative art, it was commissioned work. The tide certainly seems to be turning.
This week sees the opening of Legends Only, an exhibition of work by perhaps the leading fashion illustrator of our time, David Downton, at London’s Claridges Hotel where he has been artist-in-residence since 2011. Downton began his career in haute couture by designing backstage and in front of the house at John Galliano’s Dior shows. Last year, Bil Donovan, another artist-in-residence, in this case for Dior, described the enigmatic appeal of fashion illustration for *WWD*: “It almost blurs the line between fine art and illustration. Fashion illustration, at least [for] haute couture, you’re not just selling a product, you’re selling the essence of the product. Some works are so abstract. When designer Kim Jones contacted Antonio Lopez’s estate to use the late artist’s designs for his Spring 2022 Fendi collection, in stores now, his goal was to go beyond mere emblazoned artwork. of art on clothes, as evidenced by the 2017 Kenzo collection inspired by Lopez. Instead, Jones weaved her fluid brushwork and bold mark into garments through intarsias, jacquards and abstract patterns so that the artist’s spirit was embedded in the design.
London-based illustrator Sue Dray recently posted a filmed montage of her many sketching appearances at London Fashion Week on social media, a lone figure behind an easel nestled in a wall of photographers. Guests seemed as intrigued by what she was creating as by what was shown on the catwalk, reminding us that fashion is an art as much as a business. An illustration sketched in real time acquires great value when viewed through the modern lens of slow fashion and our growing appreciation of the artisan product or craft. A catwalk sketch, though executed at high speed, is the antithesis of fast fashion’s frantic product drops and highly produced generic imagery. While the clicks and flashes of the daunting bank of cameras are to be expected at parades, guests can see the human hand expertly glide across the page, be aware of the mix of hand/eye coordination, witness the creation of A work of art at the end of a model’s release elicits an entirely different response.