The discipline of fashion illustration once dominated the pages of Jardin des Modes, L’Officiel, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar & Women’s Wear Daily. The works of the masters of the genre including Gruau, Bouché, Eric, Bérard, Block & Lopez were instantly recognizable. Whether they were sketching evocative documentation of the chicest Parisian couture, creating advertising campaigns for beauty brands and department stores or depicting the beautiful people of London & New York society, these artists captured & spoke through drawing the language of fashion. Yet, the art world have continually dismissed these artists & their work as commercial art & as fashion photography took center stage towards the end of the 20th century, the fashion illustrator was forced to lay down his brush. The talk ‘Fashion Illustration. A Genre Rediscovered’ will bring the discipline back to life, highlighting the key role the artists played in the history of 20th century fashion, explore what made a fashion illustrator a ‘master’, why so few of the original artworks survive today & how the artists influenced not only the eye of the reader but also the fashion designers themselves. Today we see a renewed energy as editors are once again turning to contemporary illustrators to bring a fresh dynamic look to magazine pages & social media platforms resulting in fashion illustration being entirely à la mode once again.
Connie Gray is a director of the art gallery Gray M.C.A. As an art dealer, curator & specialist in 20th century fashion illustration, she is on the advisory committee of The Frances Neady Collection of Fashion Illustration at F.I.T. in New York & is regularly invited to lecture on the history & social importance of fashion illustration. She travels extensively sourcing & researching original works by the fashion masters of the 20th century & curates the exhibition Drawing on Style held in London & New York annually that brings together the very finest examples of the genre. Her ambition is to re-establish the evocative & endlessly elegant work of the great fashion illustrators as the missing School of Art in the tradition of the finest painters of the mid 20th century.
Organised by Dr Rebecca Arnold (The Courtauld) and Leah Gouget-Levy (The Courtauld)