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Fashionable Illustrations And Appearance In Editorials Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 4574 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Fashion illustrations were and will stay desirable forever! For many years this part of art was modifying and improving to become an independent and valuable art segment. For some people it might have no value, but for some of them it is a meaning of the life.

Illustrations are in a huge connection with art movements, fashion trends and photography. Beauty canons dictate the rules for illustrators but there is always space for flights of imagination.

Why there are the periods when it becomes popular and then almost disappears? There are many reasons affecting the attractiveness of fashion illustrations. First of all cultural aspects are playing quite important role of perception. Photography is the main rival for illustrations. It was a huge explosion of photography which almost substituted the illustration in magazine spreads.

However there is no other way for fashion to be produced without illustrations. That means until the fashion exists, the fashion illustrations will appear again and again...

In spite of any possible reasons, people will always admire increase or decrease of interest to fashion illustrations. Furthermore even if our life will be totally under computerisation we still are going to be in need of hand drawing fashion illustration as we always in need of pure art.

The story of fashion illustrations goes deep in a history. First sketches appeared about 500 years ago. Development is an inalienable process for human being. Attractiveness might be one of the main reasons why humanity still exists. People love beauty. Magnificent beauty might have natural origin or could be done by human to make this world better. That was one of the reason for beginning of fashion. Another reason was social inequality. Outfit always was the main significant factor of social status.

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Fashion industry was growing up day by day. There was only one way to make it available for mass to make it illustrative. According to Blackman (2007, p. 6) first fashion illustrated magazine called La Mercure galant (1672). Another source of information were french fashion plates. Widely recognisable artists such as Jean de St Jean, François Octavien, Antoine Hérisset and Bernard Picart were providing women with latest trends. In spite of that fact that someone liked or criticized illustrations, the information extended quickly and effectively in all social layers.

Additionally, the beauty canon of that time was a women in comparison with the vase, same fragile and refined. Woman who is quite educated for formal conversations, who visits salons and theatres, who knows everything about last trends, who looks fashionable. Models were drawn quite skinny and still were wearing corsets.

Later, the illustrations were available in wide range of magazines. At that time the illustrations did not have the current meaning. It has distinctive and simple purpose - distribution. Figures were drawn accurately with all details without exaggeration or stylization. It was necessarily to make people believe in reality of image. It supposed to have the power that photography - record facts.

Moreover increasable achievement in the chain between fashion brand and final piece were patterns which appeared in many magazines. It has allowed for women to produce clothes by themselves. Its amazing that we still use this illustrated schemes in the magazines. Perfect example is a Burda Style magazine (1949) Each picture in Burda Style supported by pattern.

Amazing fact that Harper's Bazaar magazine (fig. 1) first published at 1867 and Vogue just at 1892. This magazines have quite similar content and basic ideas for graphic and structure. In spite of this, Vogue is the top fashion magazine in the world... Top fashion magazines are always competing. However graphic and content are often quite similar. The world of fashion magazines could be compare with fashion industry. As soon as leading designer or fashion house represents their collection, the next day all key elements will be copying by other. Then it will be called - trends of the season. Completely the same process is working for fashion publication. As soon as some new technique, new manner to present the information or new unordinary layouts appear in Vogue magazine it will be copied by the rest publications around the globe and will be called trend. Vogue discover and makes stars from people links to this business as photographers, illustrators models and designers and many others.

'If a husband or father of the early or mid-Victorian era chose to deny the women of his household access to controversial magazines such as Harper`s, then instead he might permit them to subscribe to one of the few publications specifically created for women: Ladies Literary Cabinet (1819-22), Graham`s Magazine (1826-55), Ladies Magazine (1828-36), Godey`s Lady`s Book (1830-98), Ladies` Repository(1841-76), Peterson`s Ladies` National Magazine (1854-57), Harper`s Bazar (1867-present day)' (Delis Hill, 2004, p. 2).

Day by day magazine market growned up. Development of printing process reduced production costs. Many new magazines appeared before twenties. That gave a chance to illustrations to become more developed. Photography was already announced but was not used extensively. Blackman (2007, p. 71) reports that the twenties and thirties could be considered as "Golden age" of fashion illustrations. In spite of the fact that at the beginning of thirties the favour started switching to colore photography. First colore cover photographed by Edward Steichen, appeared in 1932. Furthermore by analysis of market shows that photographic Vogue covers sold better. At that time Illustrators were totally influenced by art moments. Dada, Bauhaus, De Stijl and Art Deco brought magazines design in completely new level but made the illustrations development limited. One of the example could be considered by George Barbier illustrations. George Barbie (1882 - 1932) was well recognizable and talented French illustrator. During his successful career he illustrated books, worked on haute couture fashion illustrations, designed jewellery and costumes, glass and wallpaper ('George Barbier', 2010).

Analysing Barbie earlier illustrations (fig. 2) and compare to later works (fig. 3) appears the big difference in technique, style and colour. His earlier works are more natural, more distinctive. Earlier works did not have that much details which are not related to concrete clothes. Mostly, the model was drawn on one colour background. Later on George Barbie started to produce more complicated works. Fashion illustrations looked like a painting with many characters. Moreover it told a story. All his older illustrations are sated by details inherent to Art Deco style.

One of the best Art Deco painter is Tamara de Lempicka. Illustrations from Tamara de Lempicka could be compared to George Barbie to prove that there are many similarities (fig. 4-5). First of all geometrical shapes are involved in composition. Both images are quit elegant and have a lot of decorative details. Models pained according to Art Deco beauty canons. That facts proves that George Barbier definitely was influenced by Art Deco movement.

The influence of art movements was so strong in a period from 1900 to 1950 that it was a bit frozen possible development of illustrations. In spite of this situation, the illustrations were extremely popular at that time. However, this is exact example of how much this branch of art depends on art in general. People were depend on illustrations, but illustrations were depend on needs. Moreover it depended of fashion. This is completely limited circle when everything appears because of concrete aim and purpose.

New brands appeared day by day, fashion houses were very popular, when Coco Chanel made a revolution in fashion industry. '...The essence of her style was rooted in a masculine model of power, a direction that has dominated twentieth-century fashion.' (The fashion book,1998, p. 98). Emancipation opened the border for women to represent themselves, for designers to create completely new clothes, for illustrators to be less influenced by movements. Fashion illustrations of that time were much more aggressive and independent. Authors brought more personal fillings. Women were considered as an independent, strong and powerful part of society. Women body was no longer represented as a stylized illustration, which totally depended on rules of art movement. That was a time of French fashion. Times when Haute Couture empire began to grow up.

According to Blackman (2007, p. 72) Parisian couture dominated international. However US fashion designers presented beautiful collections during the interwar years. American ready-to-wear collections outstand all European countries. That was the time when Hollywood influenced to fashion, design and perception. Actors were iconic idols for people to consider fashion and brans. Women tried to reproduced expensive clothes by hieing a dress maker or do it by themselves. Vogue, Woman`s journal and Weldon`s were providing readers with patterns. Vogue and Harper's Bazaar were widely experimenting with photography. However, fashion illustrations appeared in all publications (fig. 6-7).

Talking about history, there are three most important decades for fashion illustrations: "Golden age", sixties and probably present days. Sixties and seventies changed everything. That time changed cultures, fashion, music, art and even politics. Pop art became very popular and supported popularity of photography. Photography almost replaced illustrations. It was everywhere. Haute Couture market was almost generated to that what it looks today. Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Givenchy and many other fashion designers and fashion houses opened their doors to fashionable and rich customers. Fashion illustrations became very progressive, different and ordinary (fig. 8).

Freedom, sexuality and style are displayed in all illustrations of that period. Vogue fashion spreads remind this days design. Photography was placed next to illustration.(fig. 9). According to Blackman (2007, p. 168) Illustrated covers appeared rarely. Well known editorial illustrators of the sixties were: René Bouché, Alfredo Bouret, Tod Draz, Tom Keogh, Eric Stemp, John Ward and Audrey Lewis. The last 'the old school' representations Eric (Carl Erickson) and Bouché died. New magazines such as Nova and Queen were hieing the strongest and more talented art editors. Magazine design was re forced with photography. Photographers and models were considered as a celebrities. Hippy fashion take it predominating position.

Sixties totally changed beauty canons. Skinny figures became a prisoners of 90-60-90 measurements. However tall, over skinny bodies became iconic image of ideal women. Even todays the fashion illustrations as well as fashion in general, follow this rules, nothing has changed for fifty years. After a couple tragic death of the models from diagnosis of anorexia did not make designers to reconsider their strict beauty canons. But this fact gave a chance for hundred magazines who taught women how to lose weight appeared on the market. Diets became a complex market which gave a chance for such structures as: pharmacology, dietetics, psychology, technology, and cosmetology selling there products to women.

For the last 3-4 years illustrations became incredibly popular. Magazines full of fashion illustrations, drew advertising and brochures. Such top magazines as Vogue and Elle, which almost dictate the rules for fashion, switched from photography to illustrations. Excellent example is five editorial spreads of Elle magazines (May, 2010) by Ulrich Schröder (fig. 10-11), who represented fashion top designers as a Disney cartoon characters.

That was not the first time when illustrations completely replaced photography. In August 2007 truly realistic drawn editorial created by talented illustrator Julius Preite (fig. 12) appeared in Harper's Bazaar. Many details, clothes and shoes were copied from original. It was totally different way to introduce fashionable design pieces to mass. Inspire of all risks it had incredible success. Moreover any innovative idea, which appears in a world top fashion magazines is copied by smaller publications. Probably this was an exact way for illustrations to become so popular recently. Now even make up trends simply recreated by illustrators. This is unbelievable, magazines teaches women how to dress up properly, to do make up or hair style by using illustrations some times even cartoons.

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Further evidence of high interest to illustrations are the Vogue pages. Looking through all international editions some fashion illustration becomes involved in issue layout at list ones. Fashion news, trends, brand history and many other sections are full with the colourful of black and white illustrations, sometimes even stylized as a sketch. Looking at Vogue page (fig. 13) first what could be mentioned is technic of illustrations. All the models are hand drawn and scanned. Furthermore, it was not computer retouched in term of colour. The purpose is to make it as more natural and real as possible. Vogue mostly promote expensive brands. Hand drawn illustrations are the excellent way to reduce this bohemian filling, eliminate inaccessibility.

Concerning to the popularity of fashion illustrations there is no way to ignore the spiral aspect. Again and again photography and illustrations are fighting against each other. Weariness of photography increases the illustration popularity and vice versa. One of the best way to make both illustration and photography work is a collage. This technique called photomontage in early sixties and was applied quite often (fig. 14). Many illustrators work in this style which is quite suitable for fashion. Nicole Jarecz is one of them. Her balanced combination of hand drawn elements, photography, fabrics makes her works special (fig. 15).

Target audience of the top fashion magazine are women between 20-45 years old, who look for last trends rather then piece of art in a fashion magazines. Definitely this fact narrows the purpose of illustrations and make it less powerful, makes it branded. This is return to the time when illustrations began, when the main purpose was to promote the brand, not making a piece of art out of illustration. Analysing the nature of illustrations could be mentioned that fashion illustration consists of two components: model and clothes. One of the incredible power of illustrations over photography is personality. There are hundred ways to stylize imagined model, exaggerate, make it perfect and incredibly beautiful. Illustrator has total control of fantasy what photographer does not have. Working with a model makes the process of photography less personal. Each of them have their own vision, thoughts, mood and million other aspects, which provides the influence to the final piece. The purpose of fashion photography or editorial photo shoots is to represent styling (promotion of many brands at one time) in creative and not ordinary way.

Illustrations could be trendy now, but origin of interests are aways different. One of the basic factors from the first publication of fashion illustrations till now, which effects the popularity of illustrations is cultural aspect. For the last years illustration became so popular in USA and Europe, but at the same time it is still so unpopular in Central Asia. Central Asia development in this subject stand behind Europe at list for 50 years. Now there is a perfect time for photography being on the top. Photography market becomes enormously huge, while illustrations are hiding in the shadow. In USA and Europe people are quite tired of photography, it became too commercial for the last years. People started to visit more exhibitions, galleries, buying art pieces. Moreover perfect way to switch was push illustration to editorial design.

As more detailed example could be considered Kazakhstan. It is quite fashionable country. Many women follow every possible fashion and beauty news, trying to order last design collections from Europe. The rest, just have no chance to be fashionable, because most of the selling clothes are originally from Turkey or China with fake models. People wear latest fakery clothes from couture collections not even knowing about it. Air impregnated by fashion, makes women read the magazines. It is like a drop of water in a desert. There is no that long time passed from 80th when people could not buy any nice clothes as import to the country from abroad was totally closed. People where waiting in a queues through the nights to get a pair of jeans. First international fashion magazine was like a Bible to follow. Situation did not change that much from those days. Kazakh women still trust to the fashion magazines. This is one of the reasons why fashion illustrations are not popular in this country. Women want to see facts, real photography. Illustrations will make them feel deceived. The only reason why illustrations appear in Kazakh publications is financial aspect. It is much cheaper to draw a model than arrange the whole photo shoot. Fashion illustrations are still in the Kazakh market staying totally unpopular, but as the need for customer to save the money.

There is no way for fashion to be produced without illustration. First draft appears on paper and then modifies to become a final pice of fashion industry. Mostly, fashion designers do not work on computers. First ideas are always hand drawn. In spite of computerisation process paper sketches are the primary source of design ideas. This might have a part of human nature which deeply inside rejects any advantages of human development. Unless artist possess of hand drawing skill would newer be totally switched to computer sketches. Furthermore not so many fashion designers publish or sale their fashion illustrations. It might be because fashion designers consider illustration as a part of a chain where is the main aim to produce a piece of clothing. To sketch it is the only way to achieve the aim.

Computerization changed the look of fashion illustrations. There are many ways to retouch, finalize or create illustration in Adobe creative suite programs. Many online tutorials are available. Designers experiment with different technics. One of the most widespread process is to draw the illustration on paper, scan it and retouch in Photoshop using different brushes, bright colours and different effects. Another technic is to collect from slices a single unique image. Collage always makes illustration more original. One of the ways to do it is to do the first sketches using watercolour, gouache ink or just pencil instead of scanning image. Further steps are to find inspirited objects and photo shoot them. For the object itself can be taken all possible elements: fabrics, crystals, papers or magazine pages. The strong side of this technique that it does not have any limits. It could have hundred levels. Collages widely used for fashion illustrations. Mostly it used for production of T-shirts, bags or even scarfs.

'I think, that Commercial fashion illustration is not in a big demand now. Probably because of the latest Photoshop upgrades and a general image processing that can be done on a computer. However Editorial type of fashion Illustration is now hotter then ever. Especially images that look like they are "done by hand" and are Art' (Eduard Erlikh, 2010). However even this filling of hand drawn illustration could be achieved with Photoshop or Illustrator brushes. In spite of this nothing could replace personal drawing skills (fig. 16-18).

Definitely, there are many ways to produce unique illustrations. Within the design programs it is possible to change the whole look, give a total different meaning to illustration and its perception. However there is a certain rules for fashion illustrators. According to Tatham and Seaman (2003, p. 50) it is important to keep actual proportions of human body, because illustrations suppose to present clothes to be worn by real people.

Despite of this matter, the illustration could have some stylization. Abstract or unfinished shape unless there is a science of proportions. Whatever idea hiding behind, wether it is a collage, full of fabrics and photos or hand drawn illustration, it must attract attention, there must have integrity and must remain that it is still about human being, existing fashion and potential customers.

Sad fact is that fashion illustrations are not an independent art segment. In fact illustrator is a prisoner of society. First of all if illustrator is not a fashion designer, then he suppose to draw a piece of someone else art. Fashion illustrator still has to remember that he is dealing with human body. He must consider trends of illustration style to have a chance to sell it. He suppose to come with something new in era where is almost no chance for discovering.

'People often wonder how fashion designers manage to come up with so many marvellous new ideas. The truth is that these ideas are rarely completely new: designers create by reinventing the world around them...'(Tatham and Seaman, 2003, p. 12). However, analysing current illustrators styles would be suitable to say that all the ideas were stolen from past and computer retouched to be at list a little different.

Last three years could be called "Silver age" of illustrations. Hundreds new names appeared. Many of them incredibly and talented. Amazing fact is that quite a lot graphic designers are changing qualification to fashion illustrations. Illustrations are everywhere: magazines, brochures, advertising, promotion materials, bags, shoes, clothes, packaging design and even jewellery. The only disappointment is recreation. In comparisons with fifties, mainly sixties styles and illustration techniques, similarity is too obvious. Technics are almost duplicated. Like for example combination of painting with pencil or ink and watercolour. Most of the times, image looks like it was painted, but some details left untouched. It gives a filling of hand drawing composition , but at the same time there is some mystery. This unfinished look give a chance for imagination. This technique started widely used in 1945 till around 1970. Such illustrators as: Christian Bérard, René Gruau, Bernard Blossac and Setsu Nagasawa were using this technique. Nowadays this style of illustrations could be find in Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar and many others international publications (fig. 19-22). This is exact reason why this period of time could not be called second "Golden age" of illustrations, there is nothing new, except unbelievable popularity of the illustrations. Probably for many people it would trendy to talk, to produce illustrations, but in case they would go at list a bit dipper they would discover for themselves that this trend was trendy many years ago, as it is now...

Sophie Grizzotto is talented french illustrator who was published in many international publications including Elle magazine. There are lots of aspects which make her work different, to stand above the others. First of all she has amazing drawing skills. Catching the moments - this is one of the most powerful feature of her works. The details she presents are also incredibly important and competitive to photography. Unfortunately her works looks similar to Bernard Blossac illustrations made in forties. Blosac`s illustrations were widely used by such magazines as: Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and L'Officiel. Comparing Sophie Grizzotto illustrations (fig. 23) with Bernard Blossac works (fig. 24) such similarities could be noticed. Bernard Blosac used pencils and watercolour to produce his illustrations. Sophie Grizzotto works completely using the same technique. The only difference that she achieves watercolour effect using Photoshop brushes. Distinctive feature of Bernard Blosac technique makes the feeling of unfinished piece. Some details in the image left without filling with watercolour, staying in pen. This detail gives to the person who looked at the illustration a chance to finalize image by himself. It is wrong to blame this talented person to plagiarism, but influence is obvious. By analysing and comparing todays illustrations to the period of fifties and sixties sadly start realizing that all the styles and technique are borrowed from that time. Inspiration is a way to get passed, light up not the way to copy someone else ideas.

There are many reasons why fashion illustration will stay desirable forever. Sadly one of the reasons is that illustrations are a part of a circle, spiral process, when something that was already created will be appearing again and again. In spite of this it was a couple moments which could destroyed fashion illustration existence, but it did not happened. Colour photography still can not replace illustrations.

Defiantly popularity of fashion illustrations could depend on many aspects, but everything in this world is dependable. Interest to photography decreases interest to illustrations. In spite of this, the interest to illustrations is always exist. Personality is amazing filling which fashion illustrations give to this world. Each illustration is unique beauty object. Cultural aspects, beauty canons, development, computerization and million of other factors could influence to fashion illustrations. However we still need it, as we need real beauty created by real, alive person.

Moreover, woman are the main customers for fashion. They will adore fashion illustrations forever like they adore the fairy tales. Illustrations give a chance for unlimited fantasy to exist. It is like starting point for magistery. Beauty is a magic. People are dependable on beauty. Fashion is one of the main source of beauty and there is no other chance for fashion to appear without illustrations.

Photography is amazing achievement for humanity. There is always will be a competition, hided war between fashion illustrations and fashion photography. The positive sign is that more often people combine both of this branch together. Collages have a strong visual power. It gives the chance to these arts to collaborate and supplement each other.

Todays fashion illustrations have this tendency to copy from existing styles to present a 'new' ideas. Hopefully there will be a progress in a future. Many talented people are working in this field today. Many of them trying to come with something special, new progressive in illustrative world. It might be quite difficult to discover something new in this era, where almost everything was created. Primary fashion illustration depend on human ability and imagination. People have this ability to come up with amazing achievements. It must happened with illustrations as well- break to the new era 'platinum age' of illustrations. May be quite soon Vogue photographed cover will be replaced with fashion illustration.


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