As you might have found out by now (follow my Instagram!), I have a soft spot for fashion illustrations. Therefore I decided to cover Fashion Month through the hands of 4 Fashion Illustrators. They also happened to be the 4 chosen by Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio. He always has collaborations going on with guest artists and he is a true supporter of figurative art in the fashion world.
Before we reflect back on the SS18 collection presentations, I want to share a fashion anecdote with you: did you know that Mr Christian Dior in his early twenties was working as an illustrator for the fashion department of the French newspaper Le Figaro? Most fashion designers make an enormous amount of drawings for the creation of new garments. They have the power of the line and the brushstroke.
First up, Veronica Mortellaro at NYFW. If you say NY, you think Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and Jason Wu, designers who Mortellaro did indeed sketch. In acrylic ink she draws simple faces with what looks like simple clothing. But her minimalistic stroke presents a harmonious tailoring. You can really recognize the designers’ typical style.
Next on the fashion map was LFW. Julia Pelzer got the honour of colouring in British eccentricity. Therefore she picked Gareth Pugh, Hussein Chalayan and Erdem from the list. Julia draws with colours and vague silhouettes or in profile faces. You can sense the type of materials in her sketches; a clear and elegant observer.
We move on to MFW where Tina Berning spoiled us with watercolour and ink-on-paper creations. I wanted to focus on Italian designers so Fendi, Armani and Gucci were obvious choices, because Italian fashion is drama, grandeur, glamour and bigger-than-life dress code. For her, everything is in the detail. I see the waving Fendi maxi dress on the catwalk or the blown in the wind scarf of Armani’s model. For not saying that the geeky-chic Gucci sunglasses are all present. Tina has an amazing skill to illustrate movement in her figures.
Finally we end in PFW with Frederic Forest. When you look at his drawings for Jacquemus or Lanvin it looks as if he doesn’t lift his pen until he has finished the picture. It looks simple to do but it isn’t. He manages to show us the dress, skirt or coat with only one line. Frederic has the talent of the brushstroke in the moment.
I very much enjoyed the unique drawings and interpretations of the catwalk looks and runway stages.To me, the illustrator / artist has become as important as the photographer covering fashion month. A fashion show is no longer complete without them.
To be continued
We have busy times ahead of us as Fashion month kicks off in New York next week for the presentation of the SS18 collections. For about 4 weeks the Fashion incrowd lives and works together, meeting and greeting in 4 different Fashion capitals in the most intensive way possible. Designer teams, models, photographers, buyers and sellers and the press are all in one way strongly connected in this Fashion rollercoaster.
Let’s have a closer look on the model and photographer during those busy weeks: which model will receive the record of running most of the catwalks? Which photographer will (almost) attend all the shows? And which model will the photographer shoot non-stop on and off the catwalk? It’s known that they build up an intense, even intimate relationship to achieve that ultimate, perfect pic but how does the photographer decide the looks of a model?
It makes me reflect back on Irving Penn and his series “Nudes 1949-50”. He made a pic in 1947 of his “Nude No.1” as a reaction to, as he called them, “all the skinny girls with self-starved looks” at Vogue. Longing to photograph “real women in real circumstances”, a whole series followed in 1949. It is a beautiful, ultrarealistic observation of the female body. But what struck me most is the fact that a male photographer back then already realized that a “size zero model” was not an option. These are really impressive observations for the Fashion era he lived in!
And where are we today? What are the expectations of the photographer? I think these last years have brought an honest awareness on board in the Fashion community. It feels good to see Ashley Graham covering several magazines and walking runways for different designers. Many Fashion editors banned too skinny models from their magazines. Models nowadays look fitter and stronger. They are more themselves and love sharing their workouts and clean, healthy food recipes. When the photographer catches this in the lens, it will only enlighten our views.
There is still a way to go but we are navigating in the right direction. For now, sit back, relax and let the models and photographers surprise us with the images of the new SS18 collections.
To be continued…
As we enter the month of July, we all start to get those long awaited summer vibes. We also get the presentation of the haute couture collections of certain fashion houses in Paris.
New on the scene was the addition – or shall I call it the acceptance – of some ready-to-wear lines like Miu Miu, Rodarte and Proenza Schouler.
Couture is about made-to-measure, perfect craftsmanship and emotion. Ready-to-wear is about industrially-made garments. It does create some confusion as they seem each other’s opposite.
But I suppose that doesn’t mean they can’t show next to each other. If all designers focus on artisanal skills and emotion, it will clear up the fashion sky. The fashion world is in upheaval anyway and is trying to find new means of identifying and presenting themselves to their customers and the general public, so I can only applaud the open-mindedness of the “Chambre Syndicale” to invite more designers for the Couture Week.
Thus we had newbees on the catwalk but we also had one return that didn’t go unnoticed: Azzedine Alaia was back after six years of absence. He has his own unique style, unconcerned by deadlines because he never showed during the fashion calendar in February or September, only when it suited him.
We recognized his silhouette in the body-con short and long dresses with the typical knitwear. New were the decorations and prints on the clothes plus the use of more colours like white, red, green and blue.
His amazing eye for detail came in the black plastic-wrapped headdresses. The models looked like queens reigning in Ancient Egypt – powerful women I mean like Nefertiti and Cleopatra. Naomi Campbell could definitely wear it off.
It was a masterpiece of a collection and Alaia was one of the highlights in Paris.
Call it a perfect kick-off for the summer months.
To Be Continued.
Let me take you back to MFW in February for the presentation of AW17.
My designer of choice is one of the oldest Roman fashion houses, Fendi, founded in 1925 by Adele and Edoardo Fendi. It was taken over in 1946 by their five daughters: Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and Alda – talking of a proper sisterhood of women!
The only man they took on board was Karl Lagerfeld in 1965, at the time a 32-year-old freelance designer. Nowadays he’s still the creative director of women’s ready-to-wear and fur. In 1994 Sylvia, Anna’s daughter, took the house’s accessories line for her account. Her daughter Delfina Delettrez is a well known jewellery designer. We’re talking three generations of women running a fashion dynasty.
And this was clearly visible in the presentation of their AW17 collection. One saw it in the reoccurring blood-red patent leather boots that every model wore. It was a true demonstration of girl power with a “No nonsense” message. The Fendi woman is approachable and says what she thinks. Meanwhile, the long dresses and coats identified a traditional craft, wrapped with ladylike belts around their waist; strong colours like dark red, camel, black and petrol blue for strong women in a film noiresque style.
It’s a sign of the times, the fact that more women run a fashion house. I’m particularly delighted to discover the feminist awareness that comes with it. Only the idea that 5 sisters ran a family business is unique. Through their clothes, they express a uniting power.
Because, remember, “We Are All Feminists”.
To be continued.
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