Is illustration an antidote to fashion banality?

artwork by François Berthoud 

I read an interesting article by Colin McDowell on the power of illustration (and the lack of it) in fashion reporting.

Colin argues that too many of today’s fashion illustrations copy the techniques and poses of 60 years ago but forget "that a line, no matter how perfectly executed in pen or brush, is just a line if it fails to suggest that it is not only encompassing shape and volume, but also representing a flesh and blood body, adding that famous illustrators of the past "were confident because they knew how much they were valued and paid, confident enough to appreciate and value their predecessors and their work, without copying their techniques or emulating their viewpoints." Colin cites the work of contemporary illustrator, François Berthoud as a fine example of experimental, modern illustration, here is a video showing the handcraft of linocut printing as well as how he digitally manipulates his work.

Streetstyle has become sterile an exercise as a lot of editorials on magazines have, and I think illustration is a reaction to this. I used to do a lot of street style photography at the catwalk shows and I now only sketch people I see in the street.

The beauty of Illustration is that it gives me the opportunity to interpret the looks I see on the street, as opposed to merely capture it on camera (maybe because I am not a great photographer ;-). I never seem to have my sketchbook at hand when I see someone interesting, so by the time I put what I see to paper (or my IPad) I would have further assimilated that image, made it my own. This is when it becomes unique, as opposed to just a record of what people wear on the street.

What are your thoughts on fashion illustration, or the lack of it in fashion magazines?


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