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 Book, La 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.
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.
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.
Sign-up for our newsletter
Join our newsletter to receive updates on future blog posts, special deals, and new lessons. Also visit the main webpage to check out all of our video lessons.