Saturday, August 16, 2008
My other love: Fashion illustration and David Downton
Fashion illustration is a newly discovered love of mine. I've been re-reading In Vogue, a delicious coffee table book that traces the history of the magazine. Before photographs became the essence of fashion, illustrators would capture the fashions of the day. Instead of Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier, Horst P. Horst and Irving Penn, there was Georges Lepape, Helen Dryden, Eduardo Benito and George Plank, to name a few. Their illustrations conveyed the news, which was anything that was happening in style and culture. The styles varied dramatically as the artists were influenced by art deco, expressionism, fauvism and cubism among others.. Around the 1030s, magazine sales began to drop and they saw the need for more service-oriented covers (with headlines) and less artistic ones.
Although photographs were used in magazines in the 20s, they didn't make covers until the 1930s.
Now, fashion illustration barely exists with the exception of sporadic drawings by Ruben Toledo who draws those fabulous Nordstrom ads and draws accessories for Harper's Bazaar.
Last year I discovered UK-based fashion illustrator David Downton, who recently started publishing a fashion illustration magazine called Pourquoi Pas?
He has contributed to the book 10o Years of Fashion Illustration and has drawn for many blue chip fashion mags.
Downton's images are stunning. I don't know anything about art but he captures the textures, the shape and the mood far better than many photographers I have seen. In a way, they are more realistic than photographs. But they are also a fantastical fantasy.
Here are some of my favorite illustrations by Downton: