Thanks to Instagram, a whole new generation of fashion illustrators are gaining exposure.
Drawing, painting and creating art to portray fashion was well regarded 60 years ago. David Downton attributes the end of classic fashion illustration with the death of the “last grandmaster”, Rene Bouche, in 1963. “It coincided with the rise of the celebrity photographers - and fashion always voraciously wants what is new.”
The past six decades have seen state-of-the art photography emerge alongside creative editorial art direction, leaving illustration languishing as an afterthought, sparingly produced to record new collections, without much fanfare or comment.
So, what has changed in the last few years?
The internet, and more crucially, Instagram, has lead the fashion illustration renaissance. Many artists who were unknown even five years ago, boast followers of tens of thousands, and sometimes hundreds of thousands. Instagram’s gridded interface is the perfect place to display artworks side by side.
Writing for Vogue, Dolly Jones talks about how it has only now become commercially viable to include illustration alongside photography, as people expect richer, more authentic and engaging content. She also asks if we’re yearning for the “quiet” of considered illustration, as technology erupts at a frenetic pace around us.
Illustrations reminds us that clothes are works of art, because they can be artworks in their own right. @jenifercorker stitches her illustrations together, creating both a drawing, and a miniature creation. She captures details in a way that watercolour and chalk cannot, with deft thin stitches, mixed with swathes of colour . We would love to see her illustrate Bozena’s dresses. Her pleats and velvet panels, and tailored aesthetic, could look beautiful dressed in Corker’s threads.
@justinteodero is renown for his cheeky, effervescent style. His drawings are typically sparky and fun, and include titles such as “clothes I would wear if I was a girl.” He often sketches narrative into his drawings. Political campaigns and pop-culture references are rife in his work, lending a seriousness to his illustration that is countered by his playful style.
The sketch we have selected is of a girl reclining, the emphasis squarely on the blue shirt she’s wearing, using only two colours. It reminds us of Lisous’s pleated night-blue shirt. She is expert at making classic shapes and subtly changing their silhouettes. The pleat extends from the sleeve to the body, creating a dreamy treasure box piece that is made to last decades.
@simeronkaler creates a lot of movement with her loose, continuous line sketches and splashes of colour. Mariam’s models dance in her photos, to show off the clean lines of her loose linen shirts, and tailored cotton trousers. Capturing body and movement in sketches is challenging, Kaler’s abstracted loose style asks us to envision movement, as well as any intricate detail.
Illustration fictionalises outfits. It can inspire you to wear pieces together that you would not have considered before. Colours and lines can inspire a mood, transporting you back to a familiar time and place, or to somewhere you have never been before. The best illustration isn’t better or worse than photography- it is distinctly different, creating a world that a camera isn’t able to see, or record in a click.
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