The Western World was seized with Egyptomania when King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922. The Egyptian King appeared to be dressed in pure gold sequins and had nets of faience beads spread over him. Immediately sequins and beading became all the rage, as well as Ancient Egyptian style emblems and pictograms (which often didn’t make sense). Even 1920s fashion illustrations were influenced, with models appearing in profile drawn in a flat style with a distinct black outline.
We toyed with it on Vogue.co.uk during my decade as editor of the site from 2005 to 2015, with a shoppable version of the Fashion Illustrated Gallery (founded by William Ling; stocking the work of all the prominent modern illustrators including Downton and Ling’s wife Tanya), running alongside an illustrated blog by Downton himself written from the Fumoir - but it didn’t get huge traction. In contrast, today illustration generates great engagement, even recently making it into the realms of the still-controversial space of branded content with a campaign of illustrated fashion fairytales that ran across Vogue, GQ and Tatler which surpassed all commercial targets for a month-long campaign within the first 24 hours.
"I work with both traditional and digital media, however the biggest job is done with the use pencils of varying lead hardness ranging from 8B to H. I'm constantly learning how to master smooth shading useful for realistic drawings and that's why working with pencils comes in handy in this case. Each drawing is scanned and edited a bit in Photoshop, which I find very useful to clean up the composition, adjust the contrast and work with the colors." — Ewelina Dymek, illustrator
There are many quality fashion blogs, which unsurprisingly feature high-quality photographs of the latest fashion innovations. Most fashion blogs are full of inspiration for those mornings you open your wardrobe door with your mind in a blank. They make an ideal place to begin your online research into what’s hot this year before you head off to purchase your own outfits. They can also provide you with ideas about what you can mix and match to create that perfect look.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), graphic designers earned an annual median salary of $46,900 in 2015. Continuously refining skills and developing professionally might help fashion illustrators earn more with time, as the top 10% of graphic designers earned over $81,000 that same year. The BLS predicted 1% employment growth for all graphic designers from 2014 through 2024, which means there will be little to no change in the number of jobs available.
In the early 1920s, bows weren’t necessary prominent features on women’s coats, but by the mid twenties, Paris had cabled the world to let them know: bows are in. Depending on the budget, a woman would generally choose between wool velour and fur. A particularly nice coat might be made of all-wool Venise Bolivia, with a Paris bow and buckle that fastened in front of the left hip.
Musicians and college kids often wore wide striped blazers over white pants as a summer outfit. This look was popularized by Barber Shop quartet singers, ragtime pianists, and traveling salesmen (aka The Music Man.) Some costumes skip the blazer and wear a striped vest, bow tie and armbands/sleeve garters instead. A straw boater hat completes the festive summer outfit.
Whatever the catalyst, fashion illustration is having 'a moment’. It has been fidgeting the industry for some time - perhaps since Nick Knight introduced Helen Downie’s Unskilled Worker into fashion's limelight two years ago, and it’s now truly kicking. Grace Coddington and Michael Robert’s GingerNutz story in our December issue - whose cover itself generated a multitude of illustrated versions that flooded the social channels - stands as definitive proof. The video of Coddington talking about it generated 10,000 views in its first twelve hours on YouTube, while Caroline Stein’s Instagram version of Pat McGrath’s LABS generated 100 likes-a-minute for the first hour it was live. People clearly like looking at it.
But of course, women did not only wear dresses in 1920s fashion. They also favoured separates – skirts and a blouse, surmounted with a gently tailored jacket, long line or quite often a thick cardigan. The blouses ran the gamut from very simple to be-frilled, embroidered and with all kinds of fancy collars. They also, like dresses, came in many colours and prints.
Pretty much everyone I interviewed has a good, well-viewed social media presence. Whether on Instagram, Behance, Twitter, Facebook, or other sites, each artist connects with their public, regularly updating with artwork, prints or products they produce themselves, or in-process pieces meant to engage the viewer and get more potential clients to their accounts and portfolios. When it comes to niche design jobs, you want to do everything you can to sell your work on your terms and get the word out that you’re available for hire or have artwork for sale.
The girl next door. The classic style that’s been around for ages. This fashion style doesn’t pay attention to the latest trends and doesn’t involve anything wild or exotic. This trend focuses on simplicity and cuteness, with a striped tee, shorts, and tennis shoes enough to make her happy. At the end of the day, she just wants to be adorable and casual!
Giorgio Armani, an outstanding Italian fashion designer, particularly noted for his menswear for his clean, tailored lines. He formed his company, Armani, in 1975, and by 2001 was acclaimed as the most successful designer to come out of Italy, with an annual turnover of $1.6 billion and a personal fortune of $7 billion as of 2012. Armani is also the first ever designer to ban models who has a Body Mass Index under 18. He is truly a living legend and a great fashion designer.
As illustration has emerged as a tool for cutting through the visual noise of social media, it has itself benefitted from social media’s own disruption of the traditional barometers of quality. Just as David Bowie prophesied in his famous 1999 Newsnight interview that the internet would demystify the relationship between artist and audience, social media has “smashed down the gatekeepers”, says Downie, who doesn’t consider a picture finished until it’s given a “moment of birth” by being published on her Instagram account. “I cried when I saw that Bowie interview,” she says. “It’s so profoundly right, and it’s exactly what happened with my work.”
Why: Of Turkish/Iranian Jewish descent, Medine kicked off her career with a blog called Boogers + Bagels. Her ironic fashion-addict asides soon had her readers rolling in the aisles, and she decided to focus on the topic full-time after a joky conversation while out shopping with a friend about how ‘man-repelling’ all the fashion-forward outfits they loved were. It’s now a male-scaring empire, providing in-depth intel: ‘The difference between Mom Jeans and Dad Jeans’, the fabulous ‘Manstagram’ – all the best fash items du jour – and fun features and style news aplenty.