Part I: Definition and Importance
You see the picture above? It’s Kim Kardashian wearing a superb summer/spring couture creation by designer Stephane Rolland. You think the illustration is mine? Of course… NOT! (Though I hope I can make something as fabulous as that in the near future.) It is a work of Shamekh Al-Bluwi, an architect and fashion illustrator based in Amman, Jordan. If you wanna search him on Google or stalk his account on Instagram, all I can say is, “Been there. Done that!”
As a starter, what came to your mind when you read the blog title especially the term, ‘fashion illustration’? I’m gonna bet the remaining one peso in my purse that the first thing you ever thought of is somehow related to art. Am I right? For us to fully understand fashion illustration, let us first focus on the two words that make up this compound noun. Fashion. Are you the type of person who’s posting his or her OOTD on social media each and every single day? Are you the type of person who’s thinking of what combination, whether jeans plus v-neck shirt or a much extravagant one, will he or she wear the following day? Oh c’mon, don’t play innocent.
But my dear friends, fashion doesn’t only revolve around the latest trends, the popular styles, or those flashy combinations. Fashion is about expressing yourself. Fashion is about showing your unique style to the whole world, with confidence. Take note, with confidence, and most importantly, an attitude to match it all! You can be bohemian, arty, chic, classic, exotic, flamboyant, glamorous, romantic, sexy, sophisticated, western, traditional, preppy, punk, tomboy, rocker, or gothic (Types of Fashion Styles). Feel free to choose what best suits you!
Another thing, you do not need to spend money at all times. Be resourceful. Be creative. Remember, you do not dress to impress; you dress to express.
“I believe fashion is not about what you wear but how you wear it. It’s more than putting together outfits and creating different looks, but a form of expression of one’s identity, creating a new outer layer of skin. I live it. I breathe it. I express it.” – Adetayo Fajemisin
Illustration. Familiar with this word? Sure, you are. I searched its synonyms on the mighty Google and here are the results: picture, drawing, sketch, figure, image, plate, print, artwork, visual aid. To the artistic people out there! Hello! You are so blessed because the talent you possess is such a great gift. How about those who were fast asleep, with saliva running out of their open mouths, when the Lord showered talents in art?
No need to worry. Because art is also a skill. It can be learned and can be improved. There are forums that talk about whether art is a skill or a talent. Analyzing, we can say that art is both. Some people have those abilities in their blood since the day they were born. At a young age, the talents they have are already rendered, thus making them who they are now; artists, illustrators, and the likes.
As mentioned earlier, art is also a skill. If you really want to excel in this field, do your very best. You can join workshops or simply practice drawing at home. Have an inspiration. Also, do not forget to enjoy, express, explore, and err— sorry I ran out of e’s. Enough of those fail alliterations. Let us now proceed to the core of this entry.
Fashion Illustration. According to Wikipedia:
Fashion Illustration is the communication of fashion that originates with illustration, drawing and painting. It is usually commissioned for reproduction in fashion magazines as one part of an editorial feature or for the purpose of advertising and promoting fashion makers, fashion boutiques and department stores.
To cut it short, fashion illustration is ‘an art-form describing another’ (David Downton in conversation with Tony Glenville, Extracted from New Icons of Fashion Illustration published by Laurence King). Fashion illustration is important because it can be used for:
- Expression. “I’ve always been into character drawings and during my studies I developed this passion. I combine fashion drawing with life drawing and textile design. I’m not a fashion illustrator ‘pur sang’; I like to use classic life drawing techniques to tell a story about my characters.” – Fashion Illustrator Charlotte Greeven, 2015
- Communication. “I help communicate a client’s message and help sell a product. If I help to beautify the advertising/editorial landscape along the way, I guess that’s an added perk. Perhaps I help in supporting certain trends as well.” – Fashion Illustrator Diana Ponce, 2015
- Cultural Enrichment. “As a child I was an avid library patron, and especially enjoyed books surveying the history of costume, classic Hollywood and 20th century history. What really caught my attention was the mutable nature of fashion – I’ve had an abiding curiosity about why and how fashions change my entire life.” – Fashion Illustrator Danielle Meder, 2011
- Promotion and Advertisement. “Doing a commissioned artwork doesn’t only emphasize a beautiful product and it’s brand’s assets, it also allows to share dreams with people.” – Fashion Illustrator and Art Director Marie Chapuis, 2014
- Other fields. “My art can be applied in different fields, and this is the beauty of it. For example, I’ve been asked recently to create puppets for a children’s show, and my illustrations are going to animate a video clip of a French singer. The means are different, and the social contexts too.” – Fashion Illustrator Sophie Griotto, 2012
Part 2: Is Fashion Important?
YES. Absolutely. Definitely. Undoubtedly. But one more question is… WHY?
Let us relate it to the 2006 historical drama film, Marie Antoinette, that won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
Fashion is important because it gives you identity. Maria Antonia Josephina Johanna Habsburg, affectionately known as Antoine and the main protagonist in the film, can easily be determined as an Austrian by her clothing.
Fashion is important because it can make you fit in. This is greatly evident when Marie Antoinette was ushered into a tent and was dressed in the elaborate French fashion before emerging onto the French bank as the Dauphine of France.
Fashion is important because it’s what keeps you together. Marie Antoinette, despite the fact that she and her husband have not yet produced a child during their early years of marriage, was still able to adapt to her new life by finding solace in buying shoes and gowns. The bad thing is that she became too luxurious in her lifestyle to the point that she was already indifferent to the common people, making her earn the title, ‘Madame Déficit’.
To sum it up, fashion has really played a big role in our history. It enables us to have an overview about a certain culture, in a particular place, at a given time.