The Aesthetic Appeal of Fashion Illustrated

Fashion illustration by Christian Bérard.

Ever since clothes have been in existence, there has been a need for a visual representation to help translate the idea or image into a garment.  This communication of fashion originates with illustration, drawing and painting.  Not only do fashion illustrations represent a design, they also serve as a form of art. 

Vogue April 1958 cover illustration by René R. Bouché.

Illustrations convey the visual luxury in fashion as well as its interpretation.  Everything revolves around an explicit or implicit message, suggestion, conciseness and aesthetics.  The fashion illustrator utilizes this artistic skill and fashion industry knowledge in creating drawings of designs for a variety of media.  This is a field where the best and most creative artists enter to promote the sale and growth of the fashion industry.  Notable fashion illustrators include Christian Bérard (1902-1949), René Bouché (1906-1963), René Gruau (1909-2004), Irwin Crosthwait (1914-1981), Kenneth Paul Block (1924-2009), Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Antonio Lopez (1943-1987), François Berthoud, David Downton, Mats Gustafson and Jean-Phillipe Delhomme.

Vogue Australia cover illustration of Cate Blanchett by David Downton.

Many believe fashion illustration is at a cross roads with the competition and increasing popularity of fashion photography and computer generated images.  Technology only enhances fashion illustration, not diminish it, aiding in the execution of a design concept to its audience.  With technology’s prominent role in design and manufacturing, a foundation in the art of fashion illustration is a valued skill that adds value to the technical and aesthetic appreciation of fashion.

The Art Institute of California is celebrating the beauty and elegance of fashion illustration with its Little Blank Canvas Fashion Exhibition on display through March 2012 in San Francisco.  This exhibit showcases the talents of the students within the Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing & Management programs.  This year, the students provided an amazing collection of sketches, drawings and other works influenced by the fashion world.

Illustration by Lia Larrea, a student winner of the Little Blank Canvas fashion exhibition chosen by a panel of fashion industry professionals.

Amy Kweskin, a faculty of the Fashion Marketing & Management department, commented, “The exhibition intention is for the school and community to be inspired by the work of our students.  Students enrolled in the In House Promotions course had a wonderful opportunity to gain experience in collaborating, curating and promoting fashion artwork.”

It is through fashion illustration, that life is brought to a trend, a concept or a mood through artistic vision, realizing its continued importance in the expression and communication of fashion.

The Little Blank Canvas exhibition is on display through March 30, 2012 at the Art Institute of California campus art gallery located at 1170 Market Street in San Francisco.