At 16, Kavita Donkersley started ‘She Wears Fashion’ but she admits that it was all a mess and she was just confused as any 16 year old would be. However, she kept at it, and discovered her love for fashion and travel with every passing year. And today, at 23, she has 56k (and growing) Instagram followers. Just with perseverance, a lot of hard work, and a little luck, she grew in the industry. She is associated with big brands, and is a guest at prestigious events like Coachella, etc.
Art is subjective. By extension, fashion illustration is subjective. What makes something “good” will depend on the project, client, designer, and viewer. The needs of one piece may not fulfill the needs of another. That said, however, I still like to ask the opinions of illustrators on what they think makes for good work or what they look for in their own work to find satisfaction. Below are some fantastic answers for what could make a good fashion illustration:
Of course, the roaring twenties were the decade of the flapper girl, so restrictive corsets and a womanly shape were out. Which was great for the naturally flat chested – no underwear, hurrah! But if you happened to be endowed with any kind of bosom, in order to fit the sleek styles, you needed to go the other way and actually bind your chest into a flat silhouette.
Danielle Bernstein’s ‘We Wore What’ has an interesting approach that focuses on style, fashion, and just that. You’d realize that her posts are often full angle shots, with barely close angle pictures, because she is someone who believes that she loves fashion, so everything else can take a backseat. She wants her followers to focus on her outfits, and we think it brings an excellent perspective to the table. With over a million followers that get a dose of her everyday outfits, she is an unstoppable force.
A graphic designer, illustrator or other artist who concentrates on fashion, including clothing lines, fashion magazine artwork, footwear and drawings found in sewing pattern catalogs, can be classified a fashion illustrator. Combining a background in art and fashion, the artist creates illustrations of clothes and accessories for different purposes. Computer skills and an understanding of digital software illustration tools is increasingly necessary. A fashion illustrator may be hired by a company, a studio or an individual fashion designer.
As with most freelance illustration careers, creativity, organization, dedication, and a love of the subject matter (in this case all things fashion) are necessary skills for illustrators. Projects and clients may vary, but the need for fashion illustration always seems to crop up for a variety of reasons, and fashion illustrators will be there to fill the role.
Another influence the émigrés had been in bringing their traditional style of embroidery to Paris. Russian “peasant” embroidery appeared on extremely sophisticated outfits, and in some cases mingled with the traditions and motifs from many other countries. It was called “Oriental” but it encompassed designs from many countries. The Ballet Russe had widely introduced this fantasy style to Paris and the city was also fascinated by black jazz bands and the dancing of Josephine Baker. This admiration meant that black artists and culture also influenced the fashions of the time.
I feel like there’s a lot of love in the vintage community for 20s style, but there’s a much higher barrier of entry to it than there is to, say, 1950s style. For starters, there’s just way less of it. A dress from 1926 would be 90 years old this year. Pieces from that decade are out there, but they’re rare, they’re fragile, and they’re really expensive, particularly if they’re in a really wearable condition. On top of that, the 20s never really came back the way that other decades have. You can find 30s inspired looks from the 90s, and 40s and 50s inspired styles from the 80s, but there wasn’t really a point where people were like “let’s dress like it’s the 20s again!” in a widespread way. Certain details popped up in other eras – beading, fringing, dropped waists – but, at least in my experience, it’s unusual to come across a dress from a later era that truly feels like a 20s piece.
A romantic silhouette with full skirt and high waist was still in fashion in the roaring twenties, but the period was increasingly seen as the period of the knee length straight dress. Sport clothes had an impact on fashion too, as more women as well as men took part in outdoor sports. Cloche hats, dropped hems, and bobbed hair were all the rage with dancing too, the Charleston and Black Bottom were fashionable dances of the time. Party dresses were often adorned with rhinestones or real diamonds, shimmering fringes, tiaras and bandeaus. Knitwear for day-wear became popular with cardigans and tunics being the thing to be seen in.
“Fashion illustration can’t be retouched and there is certainly an appeal in that,” says Brett Croft, head of the Vogue House archive. “There is definitely a younger generation of illustrator coming through,” he adds. “It’s to do with Edward of course, but it’s also part of a movement towards more simple artforms which was very obvious at Frieze this year. Last year was all about video and this year there seemed to be a reaction away from that. I think there is an appeal in the fact it can’t be hyper real. It just is what it is - there’s a simplicity to it that is refreshing.”
Susie Lau's Style Bubble has been going for over a decade and includes intelligent articles on everything from underground global fashion talent to perfume. She also provides fascinating behind-the-scenes pieces on the real work it takes to create a beautiful Chanel garment. Then there's the tongue-in-cheek Man Repeller run by Leandra Medine and her team. Its smart, witty take on fashion is refreshing. And if over-the-top clothes aren't your thing, we've also found plenty of bloggers with more pared-back styles for the minimalists.