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April 21 2014

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2 posts tagged "David Downton"

Draw Something: Fashion Illustration Takes the Spotlight

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Illustrations by David Downton, Gary Card, Zoe Taylor, and Antonio Lopez

Last night in London, Christie’s South Kensington auction house played host to an exhibition and discussion orchestrated by the Fashion Illustration Gallery (FIG). And while the audience sat through the Issa London-sponsored talk, whose panel included Christie’s Meredith Etherington-Smith, illustrator David Downton (whose work is pictured above, top left), and Style.com’s Tim Blanks, they were left wondering: Should astute art investors buy up fashion illustration in the same way the world should have snatched up early Basquiat or Koons? “Before Andy Warhol was Andy Warhol, he was a fashion illustrator,” said Etherington-Smith. “Fifty years ago, the art world debated whether photography was a bona fide art form, and the same is happening now with fashion illustration. I believe there is no doubt fashion illustration is an art, but a vastly underappreciated one.”

The art on display last night represented the old guard like Cecil Beaton, Antonio Lopez (above, bottom left), and Andy Warhol, as well as such new talents as Gary Card (above, top right), Zoë Taylor (above, bottom right), and Tanya Ling. Strange bedfellows? Not according to Downton. “Some of the younger fashion illustrators out there are the most skilled draftsmen,” he said. “They very much should take their place alongside the great artists of days gone.”

Among the questions thrown out to an audience that included Suzy Menkes, Camilla Al Fayed, and Susie Bubble: Will fashion illustration ever be accepted as an art form? And will magazine editors ever replace celebs for illustrations? Downton, perhaps, answered these queries best. “The illustration I did a few years back of Cate Blanchett for Australian Vogue was, against all odds, the fastest-selling issue of the year. It also won the Maggie’s Magazine Cover of the Year. After that, there was no doubt for me that there is a place in the art world for fashion illustration.”

FIG’s exhibition at Christie’s South Kensington runs through December 19.

Illustrations: David Downton, Gary Card, Zoe Taylor, and Antonio Lopez

Exclusive: A Magazine Curated by Stephen Jones

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Antwerp’s A Magazine has always been much more than a magazine. The key to its cultish allure lies in the subtitle: Curated by. The first issue, in 2004, was curated by Martin Margiela, the most recent by Rodarte. And in between, the likes of Yohji Yamamoto, Haider Ackermann, Riccardo Tisci, and Proenza Schouler have corralled their favorite photographers, artists, and writers to make A Magazine.

Issue Number 12, which launches at Bookmarc during Paris Fashion Week, belongs to Stephen Jones, fashion’s favorite hatter. “I like a magazine that looks like a magazine,” he said yesterday. “It’s not a book. I didn’t want it to be page after page of slightly meaningless photographs. That’s why I thought illustration. I love illustration, I draw every day. And that’s the way designers communicate, through drawing.”


Jones’ choice of medium couldn’t be more timely, with the revival of interest in the work of Antonio Lopez and the spotlight that Anna Piaggi’s recent death threw on Vanity, the mythic magazine she produced with Antonio in the eighties. Piaggi was a close friend of Jones’. It was actually Vanity that brought them together. (Jones’ single interaction with Antonio was when he asked if he could see the picture the artist was drawing of him. Antonio crumpled it, threw it in the trash, and offered a flat “No!”). And Jones sees this current project as a kind of tribute to his late friend and inspiratrice.

There’s no theme, unusual for Jones, whose hat collections usually revolve around a story. “When I saw the work coming in, it was very much about the illustrators themselves.” The roster of talent includes David Downton, one of whose pet subjects, Dita Von Teese, models accessories semi-naked and centerfold-style; Peter Turner, Galliano’s illustrator at Dior, who contributes a story on men’s underwear (Jones advertises, “Entirely gratuitous nudity”); and the legendary Howard Tangye, head of womenswear at Central Saint Martins, who illustrates spring for A Magazine‘s pullout calendar.

Jones’ sole brief to the illustrators was that they could draw whatever they wanted. At least half the images are of hats. “It’s you, Stephen,” they told him when he complained that he wanted his magazine to be about everything. He had to shut up and take the compliment. Anyway, there’s always Donald Urquhart’s images of Leigh Bowery to balance the hattage. He drew them with his own genitalia, dipped in ink.

Jones’ own contribution is a selection of ten favorite drawings, which he spent the Christmas holiday picking out of the thousands he’s made since he launched himself as a milliner in 1979. There are also some “conversations in drawing”: Jones would send Mugler or Montana or Kawakubo a suggestion to accessorize a collection, they’d send it back with comments. He’s also included drawings from industrial designers like Zaha Hadid and Marc Newson, as well as some of Raf Simons’ college work. None of it has been seen before.

“I did try to feel like, ‘Think Pink,’ ” says Jones of his guest stint as a magazine editor. “Editing things down is what an editor does. I wanted to edit things up, make it a fantastic showcase. I didn’t want to be restricted by this season’s story. But I didn’t want to be timeless, either. Always what’s interesting for me is doing an amazing hat for Marc or Raf, but then making a baseball cap for a young Japanese guy who comes into the shop. I love variety. That’s what the magazine is about.”

Click here for an exclusive preview of a few illustrations from A Magazine Curated by Stephen Jones >

Illustration: Gladys Perint Palmer, Courtesy of A Magazine. Photo: Atelier Justine