Fashion illustration

Fashion illustration

Fashion Illustration is the communication of fashion designs through drawing. The main focus is the fashion figure or croquis used for draping the clothing onto. The true female figure measures seven to eight head lengths in height; the fashion figure measures nine to ten head lengths, resulting in a more slender figure. In fashion drawing the basic proportions of the human form from head to crotch are retained, while extra length is added to the legs to give dramatic stylised effect and give the illustrator's designs more dynamic appeal. The body is usually drawn slim with squared off shoulders and very elongated.

Not all designers are good illustrators, therefore some of them hire the services of an illustrator.

Fashion Illustration has been around for nearly 500 years. Ever since clothes have been in existence and there was a need to translate an idea or image into a garment there has been a need for fashion illustration. Not only do fashion illustrations show a representation or design of a garment but also served as a form of art. Fashion illustration shows the presence of hand and is said to be a visual luxury; especially today in a world of "24 hour celebrities" (Drake, 9).

More recently, there has been a decline of fashion illustration in the late 1930s when "Vogue" began to replace its celebrated illustrated covers with photographic images. In the 1960s several leading artists, such as Rene Bouche of "Vogue", died (Drake, 7). From the 1960s to the 1980s fashion illustration was still on the decline. Then in the 1980s fashion illustration finally made its comeback, the 1980s were said to be the "boom time" and when fashion illustration took its root (Borrelli, 6).

There are three broad groups designated for the artists of fashion illustration: The Sensualists, Gamines & Sophisticates, and Technocrats. The Sensualists are categorized as strong and silent, while their work shows the presence of the artist him/herself. They delight in materials used including paints, inks, paper, colors, textures, and explore the capabilities of those media (Borrelli, 11). Gamines and Sophisticates create imaginary worlds inhibited by vivid characters. They borrow elements of caricature and cartooning, as a result they often translating humor and wit through their work, referencing and rejecting stereotypes of fashion representation (Borrelli, 63). Last there are the Technocrats, they use computers in a way in which are revolutionizing illustration. All of the Technocrats draw but do not end with hand illustration. Technocrats digitally transform illustrations and work towards a final computer generated product (Borrelli, 125).

Fashion Illustration gives freedom to portray fashion as the artist wishes. Unlike fashion design, there are fewer boundaries in which you can express your artistic point of view opposed to your flawless sewing skills (Drake, 7). Some well known fashion illustrators are Steven Stipelman from WWD ("Women's Wear Daily"), Jason Brooks - a Technocrat, Jordi Labanda - a Gamine and Sophisticate (Labanda, 1-13), and Ruben Toledo - a Sensualist. All which have done work and advertisements for clients such as "Vogue", Barney's NY, Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton, Saks Fifth Avenue, Apple, Mercedes, and VH1 (Borrelli, 173-5).


* Borrelli, Laird. (2000). "Fashion Illustration Now," Thames & Hudson Ltd., London. (p 6-175).
* Drake, Nicolas. (1994). "Fashion Illustration Today (Revised Edition)," Thames & Hudson Ltd., London. (p 7).
* Labanda, Jordi. (2003). "Hey Day," Editorial RM, Barcelona. (p 1-13).

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