Review: The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration

p. 19 - George Barbier, Le Journal des Dames et des Modes, hand-coloured pochoir, 1913The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration is an amazing compilation and history of fashion illustration, covering the Renaissance to the end of the Art Deco period. The book is written by Julian Robinson and Gracie Calvey, whose passion is easy to see, which makes it an extremely enjoyable read. Robinson prefaces the book with:

“No book can ever completely demystify the enchanting spell that many of these images project, just as no scientist, philosopher or artist will ever find an exact formula for the perfect female p. 132 - Jules David, Le Conseiller des Dames et des Demoiselles, hand-coloured steel engraving, 1852face or the ideal male body. Beauty is as elusive as it is multi-formed. Its infinite variety defies any generalization, but that has never stopped me trying to share the excitement I felt, and still feel, in the discovery and exploration of the wonderful world of fashion illustration and image-making.”

Robinson’s exploration of the “infinite variety” is interesting to follow throughout the book. Seeing the transformation of style and beauty through the years is a clear indicator of what was going on in the world. As a fashion design student, I also found it very interesting to simply analyze the imp. 200 - George Barbier, La Guirlande des Mois, hand-coloured pochoir, 1916ages themselves, looking at different illustration styles. The different methods of illustration are sure to be a great creativity-sparker for any art enthusiast. It’s definitely given me some new ideas!

This is a must read for anyone with any interest in fashion or art (add it to your Christmas list?) The images themselves are beautiful and amazing, while Robinson’s writing is both interesting and educational. He has managed to legitimatize fashion illustration as an art while still allowing it to keep the essence of what makes it unique.

The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration

Julian Robinson with Gracie Calvey

  p. 187 - Pierre Brissaud, La Gazette du Bon Ton, hand-coloured pochoir, 1914 p. 294 - Die Mode, coloured lithograph, 1943 p. 162 - Eugène-Samuel Grasset, Les Mois, wood engraving and chromotypography, 1894

The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration
Copyright © Frances Lincoln Limited 2015
Text copyright © Julian Robinson and Gracie Calvey 2015
All images from the Julian Robinson Archive

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