Unseen Fashion – Illustration

For this month’s Unseen Fashion feature, LCF’s Creative Director, Rob Phillips, kindly shared with me some of his latest work, inspired by the Pre-Fall collections. I am sure you’ll agree, these aptly illustrate the power of the drawn image.

For as long as there have been fashion designers, there have been illustrations.

Fashion illustration was the primary form of communicating designer’s work from around the 1800’s, up until the mid-20th century.

However, with the introduction of fashion photography in the 1930’s, the photographed image took precedence over the drawn as the key means for showcasing the latest designs, and the illustration market waned.

Nevertheless, despite the decline in the market for illustrations, illustration remained an art form and with the help of the internet, which is providing a platform for illustrators to share their work, it is experiencing a renaissance.

There are an increasing number of bloggers populating the social media world with illustrations which reinterpret catwalk, street-style and imagined fashion looks into unique creations.

Clearly, the drawn image plays a vital role in society, despite the rise of technology and the digital.

Last month I visited The House of Illustration’s exhibition, Comix Creatrix, which showcases the work of female comic artists and has proved incredibly popular – as have comics themselves.

There is something about the drawn line which people appreciate and are perhaps increasingly interested in with a fashion world that is saturated with photography.

For photography cannot replace the perception and interpretation of the illustrator. The handwriting is always the artists own and it is this individual quality which makes fashion drawings of real value today.

Rob, explains what, to him, is the value of drawing:

“For designers, understanding the body is so important. With a simple pencil you can connect with the body – feeling the clothes, the creases as your hand moves over the page. It’s an invigorating connection from eyes and mind, to hand, to paper.”

Drawing fashion might be seen as a neglected art in today’s world where we are all claiming to be photographers and recorders of fashion. However, Rob believes “drawing to be the most important, visceral and inspiring skill any designer or anyone wanting to enter fashion should have, not just for their practice but their mind”.

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