Drawings in Style
ILLUSTRATION • FASHION LUXURY STRATEGY
Fashion illustration is back on the rise.
“Fashion illustration is something that I do, but I am not a fashion illustrator. I draw, I paint, I take photographs. Fashion is a means of expression”, says illustrator Carlos Aponte to the author Fashion Illustration Next. “I don’t believe in fashion illustration but art, maybe fashion art if you want to label it.”
So what is fashion illustration now, asks the author. To which contemporary illustrator Bernie Reid replies: ‘Depicting fashion by any method besides photography’. Fashion analyst and historian Laird Borrelli, who gathered 40 aspiring international illustrators for her book, finds Bernie’s answer beautifully broad and generous, acknowledging the fact that it exists in direct relation (opposition) to fashion photography.
Fashion illustration has been around for nearly 500 years, as before the 19th century, fashion was advertised only through drawings, paintings and illustrations. René Gruau is one of the most well-known and pioneering fashion illustrators globally. During his period, fashion illustration played a vital role in the promotion of products and in fashion marketing until the late 1930s when Vogue began to replace its celebrated illustrated covers with photographic images due to a rise in technology.
Laird Borelli, describing fashion illustration, says:
“Illustration is alluring because of its narrative qualities, by which I mean to say that it is visibly filtered through the artist’s sensibility. A pose, the set of a pouty lip, can speak volumes. Moreover, illustration is like couture; it is produced in limited quantities, with incredible skill.”
While fashion illustration had less credibility in the arts establishment and was only used for fashion advertising in history, now illustrators are increasingly chosen to create moving images, content, collections, brand images, etc., required for marketing reasons by luxury brands and designers, as the industry now considers fashion illustration as an art form.
With the rise of art as a strategic branding tool for luxury fashion brands, we have started to see creative artists working increasingly on fashion illustration to promote the sale and growth of the fashion industry. We have selected some of our recent favourite works.
1. UNSKILLED WORKER for GUCCI
HELEN DOWNIE aka ‘Unskilled Worker’, is a self-taught artist, who picked up a painting brush for the first time around 6 years ago. She was spotted by the Gucci creative director Alessandro Michelle through her Instagram account, just after 18 months after she had started painting.
Alessandro Michele asked Ms. Downie to participate participate in Gucci’s No Longer / Not Yet art exhibition in Shanghai. The collaboration continued after the exhibition, with other special works exclusively for Gucci’s capsule collection, campaigns, and social media images.
2. KEELY BEEMAN
Another self-taught artist, KELLY BEEMAN is a longtime collaborator with J.W.Anderson, having worked with him on Loewe.
Inspired by Otto Dix to Modigliani and the Wiener Werkstätte, Kelly has drawn for many fashion brands, including Tory Burch, Dior, Loewe, Elie Saab, Marie Claire… to name a few.
3. MEGAN HESS
Initially a graphic designer, MEGAN HESS’s career evolved into art directing in the early days of her career, but she really sparked when in 2006, she illustrated the New York Times number one selling book, Sex and the City.
After the release of Candace Bushnell’s book, Megan started to do illustration for publications, like the New York Times, Italian Vogue and Vanity Fair, and she has illustrated numerous portraits, from Michelle Obama to Gwyneth Paltrow, and Cate Blanchett to Nicole Kidman. Her iconic style resembles of what fashion illustration meant in the 30s, and she has been commissioned by the leading fashion houses to illustrate for global advertising campaigns. Her client list includes Fendi, Prada, Cartier, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Givenchy, Valentino, Balmain, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany and Co… to name a few.
Megan is also the author of 5 best selling books: Fashion House: Illustrated Interiors from the Icons of Style, The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion, Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon, New York: Through a Fashion Eye and Paris: Through a Fashion Eye.
4. IGNASI MONREAL
Another amazing collaboration of Gucci is with IGNASI MONREAL. He has illustrated artworks for Gucci’s SS18 collection and advertisement campaign. Drawing direct inspiration’s from the arts and famous paintings, like the Garden of Earthly Delight by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch, and John Everett Millais’s ‘Ophelia’, Monreal’s artworks for Gucci are just too good.
Credits for all images and the video below:
Gucci SS18 campaign
Creative director: Alessandro Michele
Artworks: Ignasi Monreal
Art direction: Christopher Simmonds
GUCCI HALLUCINATION ANIMATION VIDEO
Illustrations & Paintings: Ignasi Monreal
Production Company: The Line
Animation Director: Bjorn-Erik Aschim
Producer: Sam Taylor
Compositing: Sylvain Magne, Tom Flavelle, Kye Dorricot, Jonathan Gallagher, Fiona Lu, Deborah Ho, Hugo Morais, Mathieu Dellabe, Russ Etheridge
Animaton: Venla O. Linna, Sylvain Magne, Tim Dilnutt, Duncan Gist
Additional Painting: Mike Shorten
3D Previs & Comp: Luke Gibbard