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Posts Tagged ‘fashion illustration’

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Andy Warhol Illustration for Harper’s Bazaar, July 1958.

When I used to do shoe drawings for the magazines, I would get a certain amount for each shoe, so then I would count up my shoes to figure out how much I was going to get. I lived by the number of shoe drawings – when I counted them I knew how much money I had. 

Andy Warhol, American Artist.

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Shoe and purse c. 1956.

Before Andrew Warhola became Andy Warhol, Pop Artist he was a commercial artist and advertising illustrator. In the 1950s he illustrated for fashion publications Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar. He created ads in newspapers for Neiman Marcus and I. Miller, among others.

I have a thing for illustration as an art form and I really like Warhol’s style. It helps that his subject was fashion and done in an artistic era that appeals to me. Beyond all that, I like his sense of whimsy and fun. His illustrations make me smile.

In my collection of fashion books is – Andy Warhol Fashion (Chronicle Books, 2004), which is a little volume of Warhol’s illustrations from the 1950s when he was working in NYC. Every so often I slip this book off the shelf and flip through over 250 images, some in color and some black and white. I pause on various pages to feast my eyes on kitten heels, jaunty hats, and attractive handbags.

It’s a little candy box of visual mid-century treats.

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Fashion sketches by Virginia Johnson published in Descant.

I paint all of my designs by hand. I use watercolor on paper. This is my most cherished part of the creative process. I welcome accidents in my sketches. In the manufacturing process, I try as much as possible to maintain a hand-crafted feel. I welcome print flaws in the fabric because this allows the presence of the human hand to show through.

Virginia Johnson – artist and designer.

This quote is from an essay Ms. Johnson wrote for the fashion issue of Descant, volume 38, number 3, fall 2007.

I agree with Ms. Johnson’s idea of slight imperfections in anything handmade. I’m reminded of something Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York (is she still a duchess?) said when she was asked if she was nervous about modeling for an upcoming fashion show: “No,” she responded with a grin. “I think perfection is overrated.”

A perfectionist myself, that really struck me and I’ve remembered it ever since. It can be very liberating when working on any creative project to let go and see where the craft leads. (I admit my quest for perfection still plagues me when it comes to some of my writing projects.)

If we worry less about the outcome and just enjoy the process, that’s where we find art.

 

 

 

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blog_Isabel-Toledo-Roots-of-Style-bookFashion is ephemeral. It is the flavor of the day, and useful for refueling your style inspiration when you feel you’ve run out of gas. Fashion is easy to apply because it’s all surface.

Style on the other hand, is an effective way to carve out your individuality. Style is content. A person with true style is displaying a fertile and thinking mind.

– Isabel Toledo, American fashion designer.

This quote is from Ms. Toledo’s autobiography, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion (Celebra, 2012). I enjoyed her story starting out in Cuba and moving to America with her family when she was young enough to see it as a big adventure. I also appreciate her positive attitude and of course her amazing talent, which began with desire to see how machines work and soon shifted to how clothing is constructed.

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Illustrations by Ruben Toledo. From Roots of Style.

A unique voice in fashion, Ms. Toledo started out in the 1980s and is one of the few who has remained independent, not selling out to big corporations. She gave up Fashion Week back in the 90s, seeing where it was headed. Her husband Ruben (they met in high school) is a fashion illustrator and her business partner. His illustrations are throughout the book helping to expand the narrative. Love his style … hers too.

Great book! Read it!

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Fashion illustrator and spy, Brian Stonehouse.

Fashion illustrator and spy, Brian Stonehouse.

Recently in London Abbott & Holder Ltd. hosted an exhibition of the works by fashion illustrator Brian Stonehouse MBE, a British citizen who by the way, was also a spy. (MBE is Member of the Order of the British Empire, an honor bestowed by the reigning King or Queen of England.)

During WW II Mr. Stonehouse was parachuted into occupied France disguised as a French art student (he spoke fluent French and had studied art in Ipswich). He communicated with the British army via a radio placed inside his paint box. But after just three months he was caught and arrested by the Gestapo. For the next two and a half years he was tossed around in prisons and concentration camps ending up in Dachau until the allied liberation in 1945.

It is said that his talent and skill as an artist saved his life as he charmed guards with sketches and drawings.

Stonehouse-Folder2-90589After the war he moved to New York City and worked first as a society portraitist and later in fashion illustration, getting a gig with Vogue in 1952. As photography took favor in fashion by the early 60s, Mr. Stonehouse ended his career with Vogue in 1962.

He returned to England in 1979 and died in 1998.

What a life – stylish intrigue and bravery, too. I’d go see that movie.

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