Illustration Styles

Professional Fashion Design

Become a Professional Fashion Designer

Get Instant Access

1940 Fashion

Above left

Eric, cover of British Vogue, 2 September 1936. Schiaparelli's flaming red velvet hat and caracul (lamb's wool) scarf streaked with blue-green owe their wit and inspiration to the Surrealists with whom she was closely involved. Eric's association with Vogue lasted for many years, on both sides of the Atlantic,

Above right

Fashion illustrators still contribute to advertising today. This image shows an illustrative advertising campaign for Topshop, by David Downton. Promotional postcards featuring his work were available in the store for customers to take away as a keepsake.

Marcel Vertes Schiaparelli

the thirties

The beginning of the thirties saw fashion magazines truly utilize fashion illustration, in both editorial and advertising formats. The fashion silhouette returned to a more realistic feminine form, and drawing lines were softer, textural and curved. A new romanticism was reflected in the illustrations of Carl Erikson, Marcel Vertes, Francis Marshall, Ruth Grafstrom, René Bouët-Willaumez and Cecil Beaton,

Carl Erikson, known as Eric, emerged in the thirties as a remarkable draughtsman who would become an influential fashion illustrator for the next three decades. Eric represented every detail of garments with the lightest of brushstrokes. An advocate of observing the human figure and capturing the beauty of real life, Eric drew only from life, never memory.

Vertes worked for Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair, his illustrations characterized by an economical use of line and colour. He also illustrated the advertising campaign for Schiaparelli perfumes. Today freelance fashion illustrators still work for advertising companies: the image (above right) is an advertisement for the UK high-street retailer, Topshop, by David Downton. Cecil Beaton contributed amusing fashion sketches and cover designs to Vogue throughout the thirties but became most famous for Oscar-winning costume designs for stage and screen, and his photographs of Hollywood actresses. Towards the end of the thirties, the fashion photographer began to overtake the illustrator as the camera replaced the paintbrush as the favoured means of advertising fashions, the forties

During the Second World War, many European fashion illustrators went to the United States, where there were more work opportunities, and some never returned. The early part of the decade saw illustration styles continuing in the same romantic vein they had embraced in the thirties. Dominating forties fashion illustration, along with Christian Bérard and Tom Keogh, were three illustrators who coincidentally shared

Christian Berard 1940

L ■ ¿.,'iiUi'i the name Rend. René Bouët-Willaumez worked for Vogue in the thirties but continued throughout the forties, using an Expressionist style influenced by Eric. René Bouché began illustrating exclusively in black and while, though in his later illustrations he developed a strong sense of colour. His decisive and accurate drawing style was derived from strict observation, and his images often appeared spread across double-page Vogue editorials.

René Gruau is perhaps best known for creating the advertisements for Christian Dior's "New Look", establishing a professional relationship with the Dior design house that lasted more than 50 years. He painted in a bold style, influenced by Picasso and Matisse, using black brushstrokes to outline the form, minimal detail but a generous amount of movement and shape. Gruau's style gives the illusion of speed and hastiness. However, he admitted that he completed at least 30 preparatory sketches before creating an illustration. A lesson to us all.

Rene Willaumez


René Bouët-Willaumez was influenced by Eric, but refined his own style through adventurous use of colour, swift, sharp hatching and vigorous shading, His illustrations had a dramatic sense of style and commanded space on the pages of Vogue for many years,


René Bouché had a firm and accurate drawing style that derived from strict observation. He used pen and ink or crayon, and cleverly merged the character of the garments with that of the wearer, as in this example from 1945. Bouché had a strong sense of colour and he passed on his knowledge to fashion illustration students at the Parson's School of Design in New York, where he taught during the forties.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Dress Making

Dress Making

Rock your personality in a dress you made yourself that reflects who you are, not what a department store thinks you want. Discover The Beginners Guide to Making Your Own Dress. You do not have to wear off the rack dresses any longer. You can make your own fashion statement on the world.

Get My Free Ebook


  • allan
    Who influenced 1940 fashion?
    8 years ago

Post a comment