Consider, for full-bodied pieces, what sort of stories can be told with the addition of accessories. Imagine drawing a beautiful, historical queen. What sort of accessories would she wear? Crown, jewelry, fancy shoes, and a scepter, perhaps. You can tell a story of decadence the more accessories you add, or of simplicity by only featuring a small bracelet or simple necklace within a design.

Whatever the catalyst, fashion illustration is having 'a moment’. It has been fidgeting the industry for some time - perhaps since Nick Knight introduced Helen Downie’s Unskilled Worker into fashion's limelight two years ago, and it’s now truly kicking. Grace Coddington and Michael Robert’s GingerNutz story in our December issue - whose cover itself generated a multitude of illustrated versions that flooded the social channels - stands as definitive proof. The video of Coddington talking about it generated 10,000 views in its first twelve hours on YouTube, while Caroline Stein’s Instagram version of Pat McGrath’s LABS generated 100 likes-a-minute for the first hour it was live. People clearly like looking at it.
Born in August of 1883, Gabrielle Chanel was a French native who was destined to liberate women from the constraints of corsets and other uncomfortable garments. A true rebel and visionary, Chanel, who changed her name to Coco after a brief career as a singer, preferred to wear clothes she could move freely in; often, her style were imbued with a mannish aesthetic. Indeed, Coco Chanel, who designed her first cardigan to avoid pulling any garment over her head, was really the originator of modern women’s sportswear. Her desire for freedom and self-expression gave women style without sacrifice…
Growing up, Lauren was encouraged by his mother to become a rabbi, but he chose a much different course. Influenced by the easy, preppy elegance of the country club set, as well as the glamour of old Hollywood, he chose to emulate the work of Brooks Brothers and other WASP-y retailers, creating a look that seemed to embody easy American elegance. His interest in luxury, refinement and a certain “taste level” put a different spin on the staid classics of the past.

Everyone knows this guy, and I bet you do, too. He’s one of the international fashion icons. Yves Saint Laurent became popular as a designer who re-designed menswear into feminine, beautiful garments for women. His name is also closely associated with the phenomenon of ‘ready-to-wear’ fashion clothing, ‘power suits’ for women and ‘smoking jackets’ for men.
Most of the illustrators I spoke to studied design in some capacity. Rodgers, who has worked with everyone from Cartier to Coach to Disney, studied industrial design at Carnegie Mellon and went on to work in apparel design, illustrating in her spare time. Jenny Walton, a part-time illustrator who has worked with Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle, studied fashion design at Parsons, and says that her figure drawing classes were immensely helpful. “To be good at drawing, it takes a lifetime of drawing for hours and hours and hours,” she says.
If you are presented with a figure whose body is hidden underneath a large dress, for instance, knowing the gestural form beneath it allows you to create poses that may not exist quickly and easily. Being able to move your figure around without having to directly copy from a photo or ask a model to make said pose means more flexibility when your client asks for a specific pose or concept.
After working for Dior, Schiaparelli and Paquin, Pierre Cardin opened his fashion house in 1947. Initially designing costumes for stage productions, he launched his first women’s couture collection in 1953 and women’s ready-to-wear in 1959. Cardin’s company grew into an empire starting in the 1960s when he began licensing his name to a wide array of products outside of clothing.
Ling agrees. “Illustration has always been outside the contemporary art structure,” he says. “Some call it second rate and of course there is validity to that in some cases - but the art industry has long been a construct of vested interests so talent hasn’t always necessarily been able to get through. Now Instagram is democratising art, but it's also populist - and in that context people have had careers they wouldn't have otherwise had. But there is no doubt it’s working for the audience - people are certainly buying more and illustrators tend to work with designers on collaborations which photographers rarely do. There’s just an additional collectible appeal.”
Surface designs are often a big deal in fashion. They can make simple pieces more interesting and even be a focal point within an illustration. There are only so many silky dresses that will go down a runway before patterns start popping. Being able to really show off a Moschino show in illustrated form would be nothing without being able to showcase the patterns created for their garments.
There is two main goals of the sexy fashion style: gain the attention of every male around you and show as much skin as legally and humanly possible. Sexy style is all about showing off your *best* features, those being your breasts, stomach, and legs. A woman whose fashion style is set to sexy is usually loaded with plenty of miniskirts, body-con dresses, high heels, and crop tops or low cut tops.
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