Sunday, July 26, 2015

Draw Me a Picture!

V.G. Waymer for the New York Times
Once upon a time (don't you love stories that begin like this?), illustration was the way to show fashion. Indeed, before the invention of the camera and relevant printing processes for photography it was the only way. Although photographs may have been accurate, they weren't always flattering. The fashion model hadn't yet risen from the sea a la Botticelli's Venus. Check out this photograph of Mrs. Paul Poiret wearing one of her husband's fanciful designs and the charming drawing by Paul Iribe of other Poirets.

Mme. Poiret
 Poiret by M. Iribe
This past week, the New York Times illustrated a piece on beauty products (top) with a drawing by V.G. Waymer. Even the products look beautiful. I was reminded immediately of the late, great Antonio (Lopez), who was prolific beyond belief and whose work, more than any photos, illustrate the frenzy that was New York club society in the 1970s and '80s.

Antonio in the '80s
Antonio started his published career at Glamour in the '60s. His work back then was mostly black and white. That's one reason we commissioned illustration— cheaper to reproduce. One of my jobs in the Glamour art department was to clean out the drawers of extraneous artwork every month. Illustrators would often submit several finished pieces for a job. Antonio depleted more trees than anyone, and I would throw out paper by the armful.*

Earlier Antonio

FYI— today illustrators have all rights to their work, keep what isn't used and receive the original back after publication (unless it's a digital file). Then we threw out the rejects and kept the published one in the library. You just know that Conde Nast library is a treasure trove of masterworks.

My other Glamour favorites, even before working there, were Sheila Camera, Richard Giglio and Erica Perl. They drew magic and put me in the picture better than any futile attempts to emulate a fashion model.

Sheila Camera
Richard Giglio
Erica Perl

Through the years there have been many other famous and fabulous fashion illustrators—Rene Bouche, Eric, Kenneth Paul Bloch, Matt Gustafson, etc. At one time it would not have been unusual to put illustration on a cover.

Rene Bouche
Kenneth Paul Bloch
Matt Gustafson

Not to take anything away from the great fashion photographers— then, now and forever— but isn't illustration a beautiful departure?

V.G. Waymer has got what it takes

* You do not need to point out how stupid that was.


  1. I'm with you--those drawings are amazing. And happy belated birthday, by the way. Your blog is a great present to me!

    1. Thank you for your birthday wishes! Your readership is the best gift ever.

  2. I love fashion illustration and am always working to improve mine. How I wish we could go back to the days when fashion illustrations were found on a magazine's cover! Unfortunately it doesn't look like we'll ever move past the tedium of celebrities on fashion magazine covers, so I will not hold my breath. Thank you for the wonderful article (as usual.)

  3. Oh, but this made me want to cry!