Friday 15 February 2013


Readers of this blog will know how much I adore fashion illustration, so I was delighted to discover that Tony Glenville has written New Icons of Fashion Illustration, published by Laurence King.

Glenville is a much respected fashion journalist and commentator and he is also Creative Director: School of Media & Communication at London College of Fashion. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for many years and in his latest book, Glenville explores the new breed of fashion illustrators working across a wide remit of mixed media, including hi-tech and more traditional methods of drawing.

Glenville very kindly agreed to do a Q&A exclusively for this blog, which highlights several of the illustrators featured in his book.

LJ: What was the catalyst for writing the book?
TG: Actually the book started as a commission from Laurence King; but shifted and evolved into the present publication through much discussion of the current world status of fashion Illustration and other books on the subject already available.

LJ: What makes contemporary fashion illustration so exciting?
TG: The variety of styles to be seen, covering everything from instant sketch moods through to finely crafted combinations of hand work and computer graphics.

LJ: Is contemporary fashion illustration rooted in the past, or an art form in its own right?
TG: Like fashion itself, the newest still references and acknowledges the past, but often in a fragmented and barely perceptible manner.

LJ: How did you select the illustrators featured in your book?
TG: The illustrators in the book were selected through a variety of criteria; internationally spread, to have been working as fashion illustrators for several seasons at least, to have a variety of areas of activity where their work is seen (not just from magazines, but through to on-line, invitations, beauty, mugs, back drops, books etc). The list also required a huge amount of research across the world and shifted and evolved through the early stages of development of the book.

LJ: Would you like to see fashion illustration used more in the media?
TG: I think the difficult thing is that media uses fashion illustration once and then doesn't use it again for ages! So an illustrated spread comes up once a year, rather than four or five times a year. Regular use rather than spasmodic would be nice, but there is a fair amount around which is good. There’s much more than there was during some past decades.

 LJ: Is there a brand or publication that you think is particularly forward thinking in terms of utilising fashion illustration?
TG: Vanity Fair have now used David Downton twice in a few months and given him proper spreads! But again, some publications and brands use fashion illustration once and then there is a huge gap until the next time.

David Downton sketching Daphne Guinness for his Vanity Fair
Best Dressed Hall of Fame series

Photo credit

LJ: What do you think is the difference between fashion illustration and fashion photography?
TG: Fashion Illustration is still the craft and skill of eye to hand co-ordination and the magic of watching a pen or pencil commit the line or likeness to paper in seconds. It is a magic act for the observer and also, like fashion photography, there are so many styles and approaches possible.

LJ: Have you experienced any of the fashion illustrators in your book creating artwork? 
TG: Yes!

LJ: If so, please describe the experience of watching them create an illustration.
TG: I have two anecdotes. The first one regarding David Downton. Back stage at Dior some seasons ago, he created an illustration of a model having her hair and make-up done by simply drawing a single silhouette continuous line across the page of his sketchbook. The second one; Jason Brooks sketching at the dinner table in Paris in preparation for his Paris Sketchbook, which comes out in May, and doing it with an effortless speed, which meant the rest of the people at the table were barely aware he was doing it. The pen is simply an extension of his conversation and thoughts.

Click here for Part Two of the Q&A.

David Downton - Love YSL
Courtesy David Downton 

Jason Brooks - Model walking, pink
Courtesy Jason Brooks/Private Collection


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