Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Drawing Fashion: Influential Favorites Rediscovered

Drawing Fashions by Dawn Stoutsenberger

I wanted to be a lot of different things when I grew up when I was growing up, and still am and still do. During a period of relative clarity at about age 9, in the year 1986, I was determined and preparing for a career as a fashion designer. I already was clever with a pencil, and had strong opinions about dressing, but had been fairly uninterested in careers that did not involve performing on stage or screen (except for maybe geology). Then in the fourth grade, I ordered a book from the Scholastic Book club that promised to teach one to draw fashion designs. I think the book must have cost about $2.00 at the time, but it proved highly influential to me then and in retrospect, perhaps moreso now.

Instructions on drawing the fashion figure.
I did make a series of drawings using what the book taught - making a fashion figure or croquis, then clothing the figure, adding details of hairstyle, facial features, textures, prints and accessories. Some of these drawings are pasted in a sketchbook I made as a teenager but sadly don't have to hand. Most notably, and characteristic of its day, was an oversized sweatshirt emblazoned with the words STOP and GO overlapping across the front. This text was to have been rendered in sequins.

You wouldn't make it as a fashion illustrator in the mid-80s unless you could draw sequins.
Rendering sequins is just one of a series of techniques that Drawing Fashion conveyed to its humble apprentices - along with other key tools for drawing fashion designs of the 1980s such as sketching leather garments, fur, lace and pleats.

An archive of 1980s hairstyles for women - and the twinkle star eye that became my teenage drawing trademarl
From this book, I developed a habit that was still with me as an art student in the mid-90s. I considered it a sort of trademark to abbreviate female facial fixtures with a star as an eye. And yet, I was surprised when my art and design teachers suggested I was an illustrator.

After I went to the prom, I went to art school.
No one there dressed like this, but they do now.
While at art school, I dabbled in fashion courses, but kept firmly rooted in an illustration department under the tutelage and mentorship of David Passalacqua. He had worked for everyone, but you hardly ever see his name anywhere. 

A showcase of work by Antonio Lopez at Suzanne Geiss Gallery
He encouraged illustrators to be thinkers and observers and also to learn from the work of drawing geniuses from all known history. During life drawing classes we were encouraged to keep inspirational images in our sight. Well known draftsmen and artists could share space with typography, sculptural works, or in my case fashion illustration. The master that Passalacqua ecouraged me to worship was Antonio.  

Antonio works on exhibit at Suzanne Geiss Gallery.
His works of fashion illustration, as well as his lifestyle in New York City in the 70s and 80s are iconic. Recently I had the fortune to be in New York City while an exhibition of his works was presented.

Antonio works on exhibit at Suzanne Geiss Gallery.
The inspiring and diverse range of images show Antonio's energy and passion for his subjects as strongly as they exude with evidence of his virtuoso art and design ability. 

A page from Antonio's illustrated journals.
Throughout the exhibit you can see how he is looking at and learning the styles and techniques from the history of the graphic and fine arts, and then alchemising them into a style all his own. A style that we recognise as the epitome of a 1970s or 1980s fashion aesthetic. 

Antonio works on exhibit at Suzanne Geiss Gallery.
As a fashion curator, exhibition and communications designer, the rediscovery of both Drawing Fashion and the works of Antonio Lopez was fortuitous. 

Antonio works on exhibit at Suzanne Geiss Gallery.
Drawing Fashion ignited my interest in a fashion related career, and today as a "vintage book" gives a peek at the representation of fashion in the 1980s. It also adds to my reserve of case studies on Fashion Toys and Books for young people ( a paper I am writing mentally).

Antonio works on exhibit at Suzanne Geiss Gallery.
While I haven't posted on here in a long time, many ideas for posts have been coming in and out of fashion. This one made it to public life. More to come.
This one I just wish I could have bought.

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