Friday, September 23, 2016

What's a Picture Worth?

Mary Russell by Lobravico

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I've always thought fashion illustration tells the story as well or better than a photograph. It ups the fantasy level (when fashion was a little more fantastical) and really fires your imagination. That may not hold true today, when we supposedly want to "shop the runway" before Anna Wintour's chair is even cold.

Once upon a time... and I've written about this before... using illustration was not the rare choice it is today. Proof would be a legal size (better to hold those oversize pages) folder I unearthed in an effort to finally clean out the boxes I packed 13 years ago when we moved to Texas.

Once upon a time I wanted to be a fashion illustrator. Most of my illustrations were just doodles for my own pleasure. Although I did turn out some illustrations for Glamour Magazine once I started working there, I was never comfortable in my line and was always looking over my shoulder or under the ink bottle for inspiration. Drawing, much as I loved it, didn't come naturally.

Really just a doodle
Published work!

 Talk to anyone in the arts, and I'll bet they will say what they do comes from a gut place that totally absorbs them. It's the passion that tells them "practice, practice, practice" and the thing that tells Sleep "just one more paragraph/stanza/pirouette...". Though we may dabble (or more) in what we love (Florence Foster Jenkins anyone?) we admire the ones who've got it (DG you know who you are). To that end I've long collected clips of fashion illustration.

Alas, paper doesn't last. My clippings (magazine or newsprint) are brittle if not actually fraying. Just looking at them left a trail of paper chips all over the room. It's time to say goodbye but not before a last hurrah.

A gaggle by the great Antonio

The biggest stash are drawings by Antonio Lopez, mostly from 1966 and 1967. He was an amazingly prolific illustrator. This was before he was elevated to royalty in the Studio 54 era. His girls were more young and innocent-looking in my clips than those in his later work. He worked a lot for Glamour back then too. I've written before how, being in charge of art department clean-out, I threw away reams of his alternate submissions and never saved a one. But I saved the printed pages! Go figure.

Betsy could draw too

Did you know that Betsy Johnson drew fashion illustration for Mademoiselle Magazine before she left to become a designer? She also worked in their art department, which was on the floor below Glamour's. She had a bigger passion.

I wanted to be an Arkin girl

My favorite illustrator of all-time was Erica Perl. She drew for Glamour in the '50s (before my time) and for a manufacturer named Arkin. She seemed to stop in the '60s as I never saw her work after that. Her illustrations are the most realistic of the bunch. I poured over all the details. If I could have morphed into one of them I would gladly have done so. Ironically I found out many years later she had lived just a few miles from our house in the New York City suburbs.

So maybe not goodbye to all of them, just au revoir. I'm sure I have room for one more box...

No comments:

Post a Comment