Thursday 10 January 2013


Can't wait for London Fashion Week next month! There's always such an exciting buzz surrounding the designer catwalk shows and The Exhibition at LFW. I've attended the fashion shows and exhibitions, in all their guises, since I started working on fashion magazines in the early 80's and I've watched LFW blossom into a huge global affair, since its launch in 1984. Today, London is internationally recognised as the place to watch for rising fashion talent, as well as being home to several major league players such as Burberry and Matthew Williamson. Our fashion colleges are second to none and have nurtured so many of the current leading designers working both here and internationally. So we should embrace our flourishing fashion industry and the fact that we are right up there with Paris, Milan and New York in the fashion stakes!

Models backstage at Erdem Spring/Summer 2013
Photo caption


Is there anything more evocative than fragrance? In a heartbeat, just a trace of a certain perfume can transport you back in time. For me, Madame Rochas, Diorissimo and Miss Dior by Christian Dior, Caleche by Hermes and Je Reviens by Worth all instantly remind me of my mother and my childhood in the Sixties. I'd have to add the heady scent of Elnett hairspray to that list, too, as it was such a fixture on my mother's dressing table and she was forever spraying great clouds of the stuff around her head. I'll never forget the time she was in a rush and reached for the hairspray, only to realise, too late, that she was spraying her hair with a can of furniture polish. Her fabulous beehive, that had taken her ages to backcomb and perfect, slowly disintegrated into a soggy mess before our eyes. I'm pretty sure I got the giggles at that stage and was ceremoniously marched out of my parents' bedroom.

But back to the serious fragrances - it isn't only the wonderful aromas of the perfumes my mother wore that have stayed with me all these years, it's also the memory of the feel and the shape of the fragrance bottles. I so adored admiring and holding those beautiful bottles as a child. They were like artefacts; so pleasingly tactile and luxurious, and so different to my assorted bottles of 4711 toilet water and other, totally insipid toiletries, that I used to get for Christmas. 

Miss Dior advertisement from 1971, illustrated by Christian Dior's great friend, Renee Gruau.
Miss Dior was created in 1941 by Paul Vacher and Jean Carles
Photo credit

Sunday 6 January 2013


I'm passionate about fashion illustration and I've always made a point of commissioning fashion drawings on the publications I've worked on. I love mixing illustration with photography for pace and contrast, and my favourite artists include David Downton, Mats Gustafson, Rene Gruau and Carl Erickson. I was over the moon to be given several of David Downton's beautiful fashion drawings a few years ago. They hang in our bedroom and are such a treat to wake-up to every morning! 

One of my treasured David Downton illustrations: Versace, 2006. Acrylic, watercolour and ink on paper
Private Collection/Picture caption

As a leading fashion artist and a regular at the Haute Couture shows in Paris, David's evocative images can be seen in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and a host of international fashion titles. He recently published Masters of Fashion Illustration, a lavishly illustrated book that pays tribute to his favourite 20th-century fashion illustrators and also includes an inspiring portfolio of David's own unique work. The book is a true celebration of fashion drawing and also succinctly depicts how this engaging art form has changed and re-invented itself over the past century, with drawings by artists such as Bob Peak and Andy Warhol looking as relevant today as they did when first created in the 50's and 60's.

I've been fortunate to commission David to create fashion drawings and portraits over the years, including images of Cate Blanchett and Ralph Fiennes, and it never ceases to amaze me how, with just a few well placed lines, he can create such detailed and haunting images. Several of David's artworks included in the book feature in this post, alongside illustrations by some of his favourite artists. 

David very kindly agreed to contributed a Q&A exclusively to this blog, which reveals his favourite fashion artists, his preferred artists' materials and what's in-store for 2013.