Throughout the centuries, artists have been inspired by costume and fabric. Fashion illustrators have depicted the latest fashions, publicizing not only the garments but their creators. As early as the mid-seventeenth century, the detailed and descriptive etchings by Wenceslaus Hollar represented the beginnings of fashion illustration. By the eighteenth century, fashion ideas began to circulate via newspapers and magazines in Europe, Russia and North America, The first engraved fashion plates were published in The Lady's Magazine in 1759 and, by the nineteenth century, technical Improvements in print meant fashion, and the outward expression of wealth it conveyed, was never out of the press. At the turn of the twentieth century, fashion illustrators were strongly influenced by art movements such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Surrealism. These were instrumental in determining new styles of illustration. During the same period, artists such as Matisse, Degas, Dali and Toulouse-Lautrec demonstrated a keen interest in what their subjects wore, Their work also had a vast impact on the way that fashions were illustrated.
Before the turn of the twentieth century, Alphonse Mucha and Charles Dana Gibson had both begun to make their names for painting beautiful women, and would go on to become famous illustrators of fashion in the new century. Their drawings had a profound effect on the fashions of the time.
Alphonse Mucha created posters in the style of Art Nouveau with swirling, floating and twisting lines, and detailed patterns. Mucha's women were languid, with flowing hair and dramatic elegance, and many society women tried to imitate the beauties he portrayed in their styling and dress. In the same wuy, others
Poclioir Images from the book Les Chases de Paul Poiret by Georges Lepape. This technigue of simple stencilling originated in Japan.
emulated the clothes, hairstyles and mannerisms of the tall slender "Gibson Girl" created by Charles Dana Gibson. Gibson first worked with paper cut-outs and silhouettes before becoming famous for his pen-and-ink drawings. He illustrated for magazines such as Time, Life and Harper's Bazaar.
THE EARLY 1900s l he first 30 years or so of the twentieth century were the golden years for fashion illustration. These were the decades before the photographer and camera took over the task of showing fashion to the world. In the early 1900s, illustrators such as Leon Uakst and Paul Iribe captured the true spirit of the new fashion trends and portrayed them in an individual manner, conveying the mood and hopes of the time.
The elaborate Ballets Russes and its costume designer, Leon Bakst, introduced brightly coloured oriental fashions to the world, challenging the subtle shades of Art Nouveau. The vivid colours of his drawings influenced fashion for years to come. Through Bakst, an enthusiasm for Orientalism was introduced to fashion, influencing the couturier Paul Poiret to produce his innovative designs. These feature in the colourful fashion illustrations of Georges Lepape, many of which were line drawings, highlighted with watercolour through finely cut stencils. This technique, known as poclioir, originated in Japan. Stencilling is a simple form of printing that is still a popular means of adding colour to an illustration today.
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