Fashion illustration is one of the greatest unique areas of specialization in the creative arts. It begins by fashion designing through a piece of paper before implementation by practical illustration. Fashion illustration is an underused style applied in the communication of fashion art and design due to the development of photographic technology. Fashion illustration is taken to be a critical component of fashion design. It is considered as a medium of presenting designs in a particular field. It is an important tool in fashion design due to its role in visualization. It is undisputable that fashion and illustration together form an art and can be represented in a paper or a surface. Fashion illustration is one of the critical elements of fashion design but there are several concerns that it is slowly dying out and at the verge of being declared outdated due to its decreasing relevance.
This thesis focuses on all aspects of fashion illustration, its objectives and its significance to the field of fashion design. During the research, the history and the evolution of fashion illustration is studied. The essay seeks to analyze and explain the rapid changes that have been experienced in the field of fashion illustration since the time of fashion plates to the contemporary time of information technology where computers are used to enhance fashion illustration (Watanabe, 2009, p. 214).
Fashion illustration: this is considered as a form of fashion communication which begins with illustration and then drawing and painting. It is designed and reproduced either in magazines or fashion journals in the form of editorial media or for the intentions of promotion of fashion boutiques and makers and advertisement. At around the 17th century, magazines and journals in French and Germany started carrying out fashionable dresses and the garments that reproduced the work of important designers. The advent of the new media especially the print media led to the proliferation of fashion designers, this was considered as a result of increasing disposable income of middle class. Fashion illustration has been in existence since time immemorial. Following the introduction of clothes, there was a need to translate any existent idea or image into a garment and this could only be realized through fashion illustration. Fashion illustration does not represent design or garment but can also serve the form and purpose of art. Since its inception, fashion illustration has been considered a form of visual luxury. The years of 1930s witnessed a decrease of fashion illustration due to the emergence of vogue which replaced photographic images. The preference of photographic images has always had association with reality and can be filtered through individual vision (Jones, 2007, p. 59).
The metamorphosis of fashion began with the advent of fashion plates. Fashion plates design first appeared in the lady’s magazine, a British publication of 1770. Due to the fact that mass production of clothes had not been invented, ancient fashion illustration was considered a lucrative and an indispensable source of information on the latest fashion trends and particularly to the tailors and dressmakers who wished to craft a perfect wardrobe for individual customers. Fashion plates and costume plate emanated in the period of 16th century. Costume plates indicated a historical clothing that was won at different times by different cultures. Costume styles promoted new styles to all individual prospective audiences. Since then fashion plates gained prominence and underwent metamorphosis from being simple representation of women in their stylish attire and look into an elaborate scenes with backdrop of luxurious and fanciful interiors and captivating landscapes. Fashion plates symbolized leisurely pursuit of wealthy-like the socializing at balls (Schlaeger, 2005, p. 67).
Fashion plates not only showed cased female fashions but also gentlemen’s’ fashion style. There were also fashion magazines that illustrated fashion plates for children. With the changes in technology, fashion plates with tinted engravings took the place of color lithographs and gained dominance in the 17th century. By 20th century, there was development of stencil technique that was referred to as pochoir that specialized in the production of vibrant colors. Fashion plates were overtaken by fashion photography in the year 1930s. Fashion plates have just remained to be important resources for the artists, fashion designers and the historians (Hanneman, 2010, p. 1))
Why it needs to be solved
Fashion illustration goes beyond mere pretty garments and it is the designs that capture the spirit of being a designer. The interpretation of fashion in garment is an inspiration and demonstrates the design personality. It should be underscored that fashion is continues and a dynamic process. Fashion illustration thrives on the flow of ideas therefore individuals’ who work in fashion industry need to have the highest degree of innovativeness and creativity. This creativity only comes from research. This is because visual reference is not similar to copying and it is always important to get updated on new information and on new ideas. A fashion designer needs to be aware of what takes place on catwalk and fashion exhibition stores. Fashion designers need to have information on what is taking place in the cinemas, technology, architecture, art and craft in order to enhance his knowledge on fashion illustration (Breward, 1995, p. 127). Among the key issues that need to be solved are where the fashion illustration is heading to and what its relevance in the fashion industry is: is it there to stay or it is on the verge of collapsing and what can be dome to enhance the relevance of fashion illustration. There is need also to justify why fashion illustration has metamorphosed rapidly.
The research seeks to examine the phenomenon of changing fashion as depicted in fashion illustrations during the 19th century. The evolution and the changes that have characterized fashion illustration have been documented and analyzed on the literature review section and it indeed justifies that fashion illustration has undergone and is still undergoing a metamorphosis (Yagou, 2009, p. 34). Fashion does not stay at one place and it goes without saying that it is constantly developing. The findings will indeed support the hypothesis that fashion metamorphosis is influenced by the following two main aspects: time and the characteristic of silhouette and apparel.
Who will benefit from the investigations?
The research and the investigation will be of great help to the fashion illustrators. Fashion illustrators’ drawings convey the appearance of the model and the apparel that he/she wears. Fashion illustrators together with other commercial artists have the duty to create non-photographic images of the designer clothes as a measure to cast it as descriptive and expressive. These designers have a great deal to achieve the exaggerating effects of the clothing and the figure. It is worth mentioning that it is the personality and the character that is the main subject of fashion illustration. Fashion illustrators more often communicate the personality of the clothes or that of the designer more when compared with photography. Fashion illustrators are important in the fashion industry. Fashion illustration is an essential mode of designing fashion. All forms of fashion are translated into real life. Fashion illustration is considered a better way of scaling designs and ideas (Welters and Lillethun, 2011, p. 67).
Fashion designers, tailors and textile dealers use the knowledge of fashion illustration to identify the latest fashion trends in the market. Fashion illustration is fundamental especially to manufacturing firms since it will enable them to have a visual picture of what they are reproducing or what they create. This is very important in order for them to have mental idea of how models will look when they wear their manufactured clothes and through this they may make changes to the ideas while undertaking production (Morris, 2006, p. 209).
In what way will they benefit?
The development of photography has altered how illustrators fashion since descriptive drawings are considered obsolete. The development of cheap photography technology which reduced the need for magazines drawing in the contemporary times fashion illustration has witnessed some sense of renaissances. Several companies in the USA apply the knowledge of fashion illustration in the promotion of hats and all essential techniques. Costumes in the entire world have also been considered as forms of fashion illustration especially in Europe (Blackman, 2007, p. 123).
Fashion illustration is imaginative and exciting and has the tendency to create a convincing story. Fashion illustrators use magazines to advertise their products in unique ways. Fashion illustrators will derive information and inspiration from various places including the following: museums and art galleries
How can the problem be solved and by what methods
An effortless fashion illustration needs to be dashed off despite it being a product of good hands and perfect visual images. Modern world has witnessed the development of training and provision of fashion courses in schools. This practice of providing training has created familiarity with the fashion sector and it has been made to be a profession and an area of specialization.
The ability of an individual to communicate his thoughts is considered critical to being a fashion designer since it is one way of explaining one’s thoughts to other people. This encompasses the fashion designer having knowledge and a better understanding of human anatomy like the muscular shapes, the balance, the stance, the skeleton and the proportion of the body structure. This will enable the fashion designer to develop the ability to have a convincing design and drawing. This can be achieved by attending drawing classes of tutorials which are offered in learning institutions (Freaks, 2006, p. 85).
Limitations of the study
During the course of the research, there has been minimal study that has been carried on the field of fashion illustration. Due to the fact that the research was carried out by the use of secondary sources there was problem of lack enough of resources of materials.
This section contains the summary of what people have written concerning fashion illustration. From time immemorial, artists have been deriving inspiration from costumes and fabrics but fashion illustrators have depicted the latest fashion which has the potential of publicizing both the creators and the garments. Wenceslaus etchings marked the beginning of fashion illustration and it gained prominence by the 18th century via magazine circulation in various parts of Asia and Europe. The first engraved fashion plates were published in 1759 in the ladies magazine and by the 19th century they were enhanced via print. The 20th century influenced art movements like art nouveau, art deco and surrealism which were the main instruments that determined all styles of illustrations (Morris, 2006, p. 82). The works of Alphonse Mucha and Charles Dana Gibson have had an effect on fashion since their art of painting beautiful women made them famous illustrators (Hanneman, 2010, p. 1).
At around 1900 fashion illustration had reached different heights. These years preceded the introduction of photography and camera as devices for enhancing fashion illustration. The period of world war one had profound impact on culture and image. The emancipation of women in particular had led to a new images and pictures for female gender which was against several flounces of fabric. The two influential women in fashion illustration in the world were Coco Chanel and Madame Vionnet. They defined fashion based on compulsory costume jewelry and bias cut dresses respectively and facilitated their fashion illustration by opening shops. At this period fashion took longer and leaner figures and at times exaggerated. Exaggerated fashions were particularly the works of Benito Garcia who captured the figure of an emancipated woman who characterized the decade. Benito’s figures were abstract in form and were fixed with subtle colors.
By the year 1930s fashion magazines began to utilize fashion illustrations in both editorial and advertisements format. Carl Erikson symbolized this age; he established himself as an influential fashion illustrator at that time and he symbolized every detail of the garments and brush strokes. He established himself as a strict observant of human figure and as one who could capture the real life beauty. Fashion illustration was taken into a step higher after the Second World War; during this period, fashion illustrators travelled to the US because of the belief that numerous opportunities existed there and it saw the emergence of Christian Berard and Tom Keogh as influential fashion designers (Millar, 2011, p. 1).
At the period of 1950s, there were technological advancements as evidenced by the introduction of plastic, Velcro and Lycra which was considered as challenges by fashion illustrators in the development of synthetic fabrics. This period was characterized by the decline of the life images that were only shown in movies. This period let to the emergence of a prominent artist known as Kiraz from Egypt who illustrated sexy and sophisticated cartoon style characters. His works have influenced contemporary designers. During the years of 1960s fashion began acquiring younger and boyish/ girlish look due to the growth of the influential teenage and younger population. This period led to the relegation of the illustrator and his place taken by magazine photographer (Morris, 2006, p. 89).
Imitation and adaptation are critical to the human understanding of creativity. With the evolution of human cultures, there is change in ideas, beliefs, habits and forms and fashion and dressing has been a victim of this cultural change. The ancient Greece fashion was understood to mean the clothing that was designed for expressive and decorative qualities based on the dictates of the market. Social and cultural importance of fashion ought to be prioritized. The disintegration of the society and the growth of urbanization are credited with the emergence of the fashion phenomenon and they started off by replacing the traditional costumes. Fashion only changes based on the fluidity of the environment
Traditionally, fashion was considered an upper class phenomenon and it has undergone various changes. Whereas it is the Spanish fashion that prevailed during the period around the 17th century, it is the French fashion that set the path for fashion as a dress code at the courts. This change of fashion was based on several factors including material innovation, the external level; these primarily characterized the dominance and the prevalence of French fashion. This was later followed by the English dress court; what distinguished Spanish fashion from the English fashion was the ornamental style that was adopted by the Spanish fashion. English fashion was characterized by the soft, shinning textiles and their brilliant colors. In 1648, Robert Herrick wrote a poem entitled a sweet disorder concerning looser clothing which had gained prominence around that period. Through his poem he advocated for the restoration of fashion and culture. During this period, baggy trousers were in fashion and according to Herrick they formed part of loose morals which he considered notorious (Schlaeger, 2005, p. 151).
The rapidity of fashions change was captured by John Evelyn but it has become part of modern contemporary discourse by many people. Evelyn concentrated on the change aspect of fashion. The discourse regarding to fashion has moved from its original religious and moral dimension to matters of secular politics and class issues and modernly to the increasing significance of the middle class. The causes of fashion change are numerous and complex and include the following: ideas, technology, cultural exchange and politics. The dynamics of fashion transformation begins from top down at inception to bottom up at the later stages. Fashion and fashion discourse offer an opportunity and material for cultural change which entails the change in morality and values (Schlaeger, 2005, p. 160).
The beginning of fashion has its roots in the 16th century as a result of increased exploration and discoveries that led to the fascination and adoption of dress and costumes in various parts of the world. During that period there were several collections of engravings and etchings that were published and contained plates of figures wearing clothes that were synonymous with their nationality and rank. The prototype of modern fashion is derived from wood cuts which had first illustration of dress. At around 1670, fashion journals began to be published particularly in France which led to the establishment of fashion centre which was under the guidance of Louis XIV; he called these publications fashion magazine. The spread of periodicals and journals facilitated people’s learning and appreciation of fashion. At this advent of historic transformation, a lot of people and artists have demonstrated fascination with the trace. The death of fashion illustration was largely due to the introduction of photography (Blackman, 2007, p. 8).
At the dawn of 18th century, fashion illustration and fashion design underwent radical metamorphosis. It marked the emergence of clothes that signified opulence of age and was only worn by the wealthy and the aristocrats of Europe and North America. This fashion was formed by the aesthetic art of nouveau style and it was conceived by modernity. At this age, a fashionable woman who was mature in aspect was swathed in lace, frills and flounces which was made from feathers and picture arts and festooned with bird plumes and flowers with complications from various layers of underwear. Men on the other hand had a strict dressing code that was regulated by their societal rank, occupation, time of the day and the social occasion. The constant thing with dress was that it signified individual’s social status in the society.
During the last quarter of the 19th century, unlike the advances that was made by the textile manufacturing industries, ready made clothing become available at various departmental stores in major towns. At this period also many people began employing their dressmakers or they designed and made their own clothes which enabled them to copy the latest design. The spread of fashionable styles through numerous various magazines, journals and newspapers provided a perfect opportunity for people to engage in pursuit of fashion.
The elevation of fashion into its current form is credited to Paul Poiret who was the eminent designer in the prewar period. He raised the status of fashion and injected it with the modern dynamism which made it a force. He also reinforced the interface between fashion, art and design.
Fashion is defined based on taste and adoption. Good taste is all what men and women get fascinated by fashion. Fashion itself is a product of frivolity and depicts some sense of extremism but taste is what expresses the best style of fashion and quality. The adoption of fashion by several people is a key element its understanding. It is not all fashion styles that can be adopted or accepted by every group whether the designers introduce or manufacturers develop or even if it is developed by culture.
According to Thorstein Veblen, fashion is a conspicuous consumption; this understanding of fashion was elaborated by Georg Simmel who saw fashion as trickling in from the elites to the masses. Fashion is also considered as a silent form of communication. The journal fashion theory uses the definition that fashion is the cultural construction of embodied identity and it has a starting point. The clothing behaviors of many people, cultures and societies are an embodiment of fashion exhibition and depict how clothes become part of social performance.
There is no conventional understanding of fashion various views that have been expressed demonstrate tendency of differing perspectives. According to historians, fashion is the normal change in dress code over time while sociologists consider it as a form of group behavior. Psychologists on the other hand view fashion as the presentation of self whereas anthologists view fashion as part of cultural transformation. Artists consider dress as a form of creative impression.
In the contemporary world, fashion has become place-specific and it is necessary for a society to have fashion system. Fashion can therefore be defined as the changing styles of dress and appearance which is adopted by a particular group of people at a given place or time they vary based on the culture. It was previously considered a phenomenon exclusive to the west. Fashion is often linked to the female gender but historically men were the first to adopt fashion and ideas of fashion. In ancient times people intentionally cut the edges of clothes, they slashed silk that exposed their light-weighted linen which could expose their undergarment wear. Fashion has undergone transformation and have, with time been distorted through restrictions or paddling like the stuffing in front of man’s doublet in order to make peasecod belly or the wearing of a tube-like bum that can roll around the hips to extend to the waits of the women into a drum-like shape (Welters and Lillethun, 2011, p. 5).
Modern fashion illustrators have introduced trademark fashions based on vector line work, glowing texture and surreal beauty. Modern artists like Cecilia Carlstadt have resorted to the use of pencil, water color and ink in order to realize delicate art work. The emergence of fashion photography was clouded with controversy despite its aesthetic culture. It has been argued that it projects the image of femininity due the desires and the fantasies that it creates.
The evaluation of the techniques and the procedures in the investigations
Drawing fashion is not fashion is not a hard or demanding task, all that is needed is for an individual to have fashion sense. As a matter of instructions, it is first of all imperative for the designer to have the template in which to draw the design. An individual can make his own template. Traditionally the tracing paper was to be put at the top and it is necessary to use a pencil so that in the eventuality of mistakes, they can be erased and corrected. The template can be used repeatedly. The design should create a mental picture of the first template design. The designer should have in mind the fabric which he intents to use in the design. After the drawing, the next step is to color the design illustration; this can only be done after transferring the drawing into a quality paper. It is at this stage that the colors to be used in the dress are applied. It is worth noticing and argument that fashion illustration or drawing is not limited only to clothes.
During the contemporary period of rationality, fashion illustration has been overtaken by modern tools of technology like photo reality, megapixel and polygon. All these make importance of line and shade, the details and concealment. Fashion thrives at an alarming rate and hence the need for innovative graphics and designs and should particularly be eye catching.
The traditional conception of fashion and the modern perception are distinct. In the ancient times, fashion was meant for the rich people in the society hence there was no need for photography and illustrations was the only mode of demonstrating designs. With the advent of technology, there has been a rapid spread of art works, examples are the Picasso and cubists and other graphic movements that grew up like the futurists and the constructivists. Technology also facilitated the adoption of Japanese and the Chinese calligraphy. The preference of photography and camera was considered due to their portability.
Artists have different ways of fashion illustration; they also have their own style and technique that they present in a sample drawing. This can only be achieved by the use of creativity which is a fundamental element in fashion and design. Various artists have come to prefer digital imaging due to its advantage of preserving quickness of the illustration and the design of better illustration (Seivewright, 2007, p. 72).
Fashion illustration techniques include a design based on the following bonds:
Joints: these can be created at to consist of curved lines. The curved bones can be moved freely using the joints and the muscles. The bond however may not be consistent with the real form of the individual. There is also the drawing of 8-head proportion which can depict human body on a flat surface and to facilitate the setting of visual balance. There is a conventional measurement method which can be used in defining the body parts like the arms and the legs (Hopkins, 2009, p.103).
With the development of new technology, the internet has become part and parcel of research and particularly in the fashion industry. Fashion designers and illustrators can analyze all latest trends in the fashion scene by the use of World Wide Web domain. The web can be considered to be informative. It is used by manufacturing companies and fashion journals and magazines to advertise and display their wares and this makes it an influential site for fashion illustrators.
Justifications of the methods used
The methods used were purely secondary sources due to the nature of the research. The sources include the internet, text books, magazines, electronic journals and newspapers. A tour of fashion malls and departmental stores was also undertaken in order to analyze the metamorphosis that fashion illustration has undergone.
Presentations of the research findings
Observations and discoveries
From the literature review and the above arguments and from the differing perspective and assumption, it is evident that fashion illustration is on the verge of becoming extinct. Fashion illustration is considered as an art which can provide an idea and information regarding what is happening in the fashion field and the current fashion trends. By using fashion illustration, an individual can be in a better position to find exhibitions of various fashions and design. Fashion illustration depicts all the ideas of art and designs effectively when compared to the traditional portrait.
Fashion illustration always match fashion design with aid of drawings and in order to create a stylized effect the length of the design should be increased till the legs to make it appealing. Fashion illustration can also create a slim appearance in order to give fashionable and classy look to the design. From the research, it is evident that fashion illustration provides freedom to place forward the fashion designs and the ideas of his choice in front of the whole world.
Furthermore, from the research and analysis of the literature review, there are three classifications of fashion research: the sensualists, the technocrats and the sophisticates and gamines. Sensualists’ illustrators are considered to be the stronger in terms of their design and they perform their art works with the aid of colors, stencils, ink, textures and paints, their form of design is traditional. It is the textures that clutch the development of the illustration. The technocrats on the other hand perform their illustrations by the use of computers and computer generated techniques. The art work of the technocrats is purely digital-oriented. The sophisticates and the Gamines depict an unreal world which is home to glitzy people. Gamines utilize the fundamentals of cartooning and caricature to formulate their characters. They apply whimsical references in place of fashion illustrations. The demand for fashion designers and illustrators is here to stay and it will not fade away due to the dynamism in the field. The world needs fresh and unique designers and advertisement ideas in order to take fashion to a new level.
The emergence of modern technology has indeed revolutionized and metamorphosis fashion illustration (Miller, 2011, p. 1). The advent of photography altered all manners of fashion illustrations. Several designers have resorted to the hiring of fashion illustrators to perform the design on their behalf. Illustration is better placed to portray the image of the attire more than photographic images. Consequently, fashion illustrators have a clear-cut position before the eyes of the designers since their drawing help the designers in the determination of the direction of their art work and in making their work more appealing.
Technical drawings and collections of fashions and industrial designs
Different designers have divergent ways and different techniques for making fashion illustrations. There are those who create shapes that are life like. These artists utilize exaggerated hourglass figures of women who are tall at four inches. Consequently there are those designers who do away with the bodies of the models but only illustrate the clothes as a measure to accentuate the fashion and they consider body shape as nonessential. Fashion illustrations can be featured in various journals and publications and to capture the attention of the consumers, a designer need to be as creative as possible and to have sophisticated and detailed sketches. A designer should place into consideration the demands and the tastes of the market and capitalize on it.
Fashion illustration can be actualized through the use of templates, collage and working drawings.
Templates: these are pre-drawn figures that can be applied by tracing the fashion off through a tracing paper and a designed drawn at the top of the template. Template is very important since it enable the designer to place a lot of focus on the design work and not the figure. Template also allows the designer to work in a very repetitive manner or rather on similar type of the garment in order to achieve the strongest design. Although templates can be found in text books or journals it is always imperative for a designer to design his own template and one of his own style. After the design process, coloring is administered on the fabric texture.
Collage: collage is considered a fundamental tool in fashion illustration. This heavily relies on the quality of the paper and a mixture of media. Using a collage provides a free and an expressive approach to the process of the design. Collage can be used alongside dressing and it is used in the case of large photographic images (Seivewright, 2007, p. 152).
The critical component of fashion illustration is the croquis; croquis is a human figured shape that is used during fashion drawing and it is in this figure that the designed clothes are plotted on the human shape. This figure may not be the exact proportion of the body but it measures approximately eight head lengths. Croquis was unanimously accepted as a mode of presenting the specific and dramatic design of the clothes. Fashion illustration is a quite challenging art but an individual with zest for art and craft; it can make an important experience to draw a design and witness it get utilized on an actual garment to be won by a customer. The art of fashion illustration is a critical area of focus due to the inspiring and magical images that they create.
Summary of the findings
After the research, the following were the findings:
- Fashion has undergone and still undergoing some transformation from 17th century to date.
- Fashion illustration has been made to be a fundamental area of study in learning institution
- Fashion illustration began with fashion plate and then it was followed by camera photography and currently digital media.
- Fashion illustration is a form of communication based on art and design.
- Fashion and fashion illustration should be introduced in colleges and universities to make it a core tool of communication.
- The directions of metamorphosis and the digital influence of fashion illustration needs to be investigated.
- Further comprehensive research needs to be undertaken on the area of fashion illustration.
- Fashion designs should be copyrighted in order to avoid duplication of an original fashion work of individual designers.
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