Is Fashion Illustration Coming Back?

You know something is moving up the fashion radar when Nick Knight puts his weight behind it – which is why, when the renowned fashion photographer asked four illustrators to cover the recent Autumn/Winter 13 fashion week parades, it became apparent that fashion illustration is making a bit of a comeback.

Back in February, Knight’s award-winning fashion website SHOWstudio posed as a blank canvas for fashion illustrators Fiona Gourlay, Jowy Maasdaame, Amelie Hegardt and Candygirl, as they presented the A/W13 collections via a series of doodles on Tumblr.

Gourlay, who illustrated coverage of Milan Fashion Week, currently studies at London College of Fashion and has been a busy bee as of late. Just last month, along with a handful of fellow students and Fashion Illustration Course Leader Sue Dray, she took part in an open workshop at the Apple store in Covent Garden. The workshop was free to attend and the students experimented with illustration on the iPad, whilst Dray talked through the creation of digital artwork.  ‘Fashion illustration is making such a big comeback; there is a hunger for it,’ Gourlay commented.

Madeleine Lithvall also took part in the workshop, and agrees that illustration is becoming ever-present in the fashion world: ‘We’re certainly seeing an increase in illustration across publishing, advertising and especially on the web,’ Lithvall notes. ‘Something I’ve definitely noticed is a newfound interest in moving illustration – including fashion film and GIF animations.’

This intersection where classic illustration methods meets with innovative and dynamic practices is best demonstrated by Amsterdam-based art director and illustrator, Tara Dougans. Dougans’ take on the traditional GIF format is described on her website as ‘highly detailed work with a subtle animated twist’. Dougans’ 2013 works depict a beautifully decorated woman crying tears of angst. The illustrations are cleverly crafted and the delicately placed animation adds a new edge to an otherwise flat image.

It isn’t just the professionals who are getting stuck in; at Paper Dress Vintage on Curtain Road in Shoreditch, members of the public have been trying their hand at fashion illustration. Clara Gomez, who runs drop-in classes every Monday, thinks fashion illustration is growing and growing: ‘Most of the people who come along are completely new to fashion illustration,’ Gomez tells me. ‘The classes have really grown in popularity since I started a year ago – there’s an undeniable interest in the subject,’ she adds.

So why does she think fashion illustration is becoming increasingly present in mainstream culture? ‘I think illustration provides a refreshing alternative to fashion photography,’ Gomez says. ‘Furthermore, fashion can be a fascinating subject matter for an artist, with so many attractive elements to play with.’

If you fancy joining in, Clara Gomez’s Fashion Illustration classes run every Monday at 7pm at:

Paper Dress Vintage
114-116 Curtain Road

Tel: 020 7729 4100

 Image courtesy of Clara Gomez

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