Fashion Art: Drawing and Illustration

French Fashion Plate: 1880

French Fashion Plate: 1880

Fashion Art is the process of visualizing your design ideas through the medium of fashion drawing. The art of fashion drawing dates back to the sixteenth century, much before Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, blogs, and ‘costume’ books depicted regional and ethnic dress. From the seventeenth century through the nineteenth century, France and England produced a multitude of fashion magazines containing fashion illustrations.  Among the most proliferate were Lady’s Magazine, Godey’s Lady’s BookLa Belle Assemblée, Ackerman’s Repository of the Arts, Le Cabinet des Modes, & Gallery of Fashion.  Within these early magazines, fashion plates depicted the latest fashion trends of the times.

It was not until the turn of the 19th century that illustration artists, creating fashion images, became recognized in their own right. The fashion figures they created were far less stiff in stature, and the image composition less forced.  Charles Dana Gibson became well known for his light and airy ‘Gibson Girl’ pen and ink sketches and by the 20th century, designer Paul Poiret was using new colorful printing technology to add freedom of line and color to his fashion illustrations.

Georges Barbier 1921

Georges Barbier 1921

It was around this time that the fashion magazines we know today came to the forefront. Inspired by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, some of the best illustrators appeared including George Barbier, Paul Iribe, Pierre Brissaud, Leon Bakst and Roman de Tirtoff, known to the world as Erté. Erté is quite well known today for capturing the essence of the Art Deco period, having created over 200 cover images for Harper’s Bazaar, Illustrated London News, Vogue,  & Cosmopolitan. Designers such as Coco Chanel & Christian Dior began to commission specific artists like Bakst and Erté to create their fashion sketches.

Jean-Philippe Delhomme

Jean-Philippe Delhomme

By 1913, photography was becoming a new method for which to disseminate new ideas in magazines and trade papers.  By the 1980s, magazines had completely phased out fashion illustration altogether. However, fashion illustration experienced resurgence in the early 21st century at the hands of artists such as Kenneth Paul Block, Antonio López, François Berthoud, René Bouché, Jean-Philippe Delhomme and Ruben Toledo.

At the University of Fashion we have commissioned several fabulous figure and fashion illustrators to help you on your way to creating dynamic, stylized, and fashionably proportioned design sketches.

Female Walking Pose
Twin Figures
Twin Figures
Fashion Art
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Francesca Sterlacci

Francesca Sterlacci is the CEO of University of Fashion (UoF) which she founded in 2008 as the first online fashion video library bringing the art and craft of fashion design and business to schools, libraries, organizations and the general public. As owner of her eponymous label for ten years, her collection sold in fine stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Barneys and Nordstrom. As a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology for 11 years, she became Chair of the Fashion Design Department where she initiated the complete revision of their AAS and BFA degree programs, as well as wrote three certificate programs: Leather Fashion Design, Outerwear and Haute Couture. Francesca has also taught graduate level fashion design at the Academy of Art University San Francisco for six years, both on site and online. Her publishing accomplishments include: Leather Apparel Design, the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (First and Second Editions), the A-Z of the Fashion Industry, Leather Fashion Design and a 3-volume beginner series on Draping, Pattern Making and Sewing designed to complement the UoF lessons, set to launch January 2019. She has also made literary contributions to both the Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion and You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Women. Francesca holds an AAS, BA and an MSEd (master’s degree in higher education).