Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fashion Illustration: A Contemporary Look

Colette, Anja Kroencke, 2012. I am so in love with this picture.

Sometimes it’s not the worst thing in the world to be a blogger with a camera, a notebook, and a dream. There I was, at the Brooklyn Public Library, minding my own business, taking pictures of the wonderful exhibit Fashion Illustration: A Contemporary Look when a guard looked over and said, “You can’t take pictures.”

“What?” I said, shocked.

“You with the library?”


“Then you can’t take pictures.”

I next found myself in security, thinking that my camera would be confiscated (so not good), or that I would have to stand there and delete the scores of pictures I’d already taken (also not good), but, dear reader, when you find yourself in security after protesting that you just want to help promote the exhibit, do ask for the press office. When you are met with blank stares, just keep going along that track. PR office? Exhibit Manager?

And then, if you are very lucky, somebody as great as Barbara Wing, the Manager of the Programs & Exhibitions Department at the Brooklyn Public Library will come to your rescue, vouch for you with the guards, then take you behind the scenes, where you get to meet the handsome, baby-faced, utterly charming curator of the exhibit, Brandon Graham.

Not only did I not get my camera taken away, I got an exclusive tour and interview!

Charming Prints, Anja Kroencke, 2012.

The exhibit Fashion Illustration: A Contemporary Look, now on view at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, provides visitors with a wide range of work from artists currently creating gorgeous images for stores, fashion brands, newspapers, and magazines. It also gives a brief look back at the artist Antonio Lopez, who had a big impact on the ten other featured illustrators in the exhibit. “They were all inspired by Antonio,” says Graham. “They all wanted to get into fashion illustration after seeing his work.” What makes the work of Lopez so special? Graham explains he “brought in a new look, he brought sex appeal to fashion illustration.”

Untitled 1, Antonio, 1973, for 20 Ans magazine.

Lopez, who signed his work with the simple moniker “Antonio” liked to draw from live models; some of his muses included Jerry Hall, Pat Cleveland, and Grace Jones. Born in Puerto Rico in 1943, he moved to New York City with his family when he was a young boy and eventually attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. He moved to Paris in 1969 with his collaborator Juan Eugene Ramos and stayed until the mid-70s. While there he and Ramos lived with Jerry Hall and were close associates of Karl Lagerfeld. Some of his clients included The New York Times, Vogue, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdale’s. The Balcony Cases inside the library are devoted to three decades of Lopez’s work from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Untitled 2, Antonio, 1976, for Saks Fifth Avenue.

Untitled, Antonio, 1983, for Vanity.

Fireside Sweater, Frank Smith for Evan Picone, Antonio, 1964, for Best & Co.

Fourth of Four in Surreal Robe series: Robe and classical heads-B&W, Antonio, 1979, for Bloomingdale’s.

Some of Antonio’s friends, including, clockwise from top left, Anna Piaggi, Bill Cunningham, Grace Coddington and Valentino.

Graham chose the other artists in the show not only because they were inspired by Lopez but also for their “editorial work and established ad campaigns for major companies.”

What’s unusual about this exhibit is that, as Graham points out, fashion illustration exhibits are “usually retrospective,” but he wanted to showcase the art of Lopez, who died in 1987, as well as feature “what people are doing right now.” And if the work seems familiar to you, that’s what Graham was hoping for. “I wanted people to relate to it,” he says.

Helen of Troy, Samantha Hahn, 2011.

Walking into 2012, Richard Haines, 2011.

Girlfriends, Izak Zenou, 2012, for Henri Bendel.

The Girl with the Hat Box, Izak Zenou, 2011, for Henri Bendel.

Mandarine, Carlos Aponte, 2004. Yes, that is masking tape! Amazing!

Flower Pop!, Jennifer Lilya, 2011. Dress design by Diane von Furstenberg.

There are a wide range events surrounding the exhibit such as Fashion Drawing for Teens (Sept. 27, Oct. 4 and 11, at 3:30PM), a live demonstration of fashion illustration with Bil Donovan (Oct. 6, 4PM), even advice on how to start your own fashion line (Oct. 17, 7PM). There is also a film series to include showings of Valentino: The Last Emperor, Mahogany, and Funny Face. Following a screening of Bill Cunningham New York on November 27, there will be clips from Lopez’s private film footage featuring Grace Coddington, Jerry Hall, Bill Cunningham and others.

Vogue India, Sara Singh.

This being Graham’s first curatorial work, what he’s put together is both impressive and unique. As I looked at all the images I was amazed at how different (and striking) the work of each artist is. And to take fashion illustration and scatter it throughout a library, where it has the opportunity to be seen by so many people of all ages, whether they care about fashion or not? Brilliant. I look forward to future exhibits by Brandon Graham, I think he has a great curatorial career ahead of him. Can you blame me for taking pictures?

Jersey, Don Oehl, 2012.

Fashion Illustration: A Contemporary Look is on view at the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library until December 1, 2012.

Brooklyn Public Library
Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9AM-9PM
Friday and Saturday, 10AM-6PM
Sunday, 1-5PM


Faux Fuchsia said...

How fabulous.

I always sneak photos and live in fear of my camera being confiscated!

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

This is an amazing post,Jill. I love the coverage and, he is right, these looks are so easy to relate to. I am really proud of you. I teach my journalism students that persistance ALWAYS pays off! Never accept no for the final answer! I sent some sports reporters downtown once to find the New Orleans Saints (visiting in town)...after several closed doors...they ended up in the Saints practice and their locker room! It always pays off!

Lisa said...

Thank you for going to the extra trouble to assure that you got these pictures here for us. They are gorgeous. I adore every single one of them.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill, this is once again a wonderful and informative post. Thank you! ;-) I know what it feels like taking pictures secretly, worrying that somebody will take away my camera... these people in the museums just don't seem to understand what we are doing ;-=


Brilliant post Jill, with a little suspense added.
Thank you so much for yur help always, my dear friend

Jane W. said...

How amazing that this is at your local library!!!! Lucky you. Beauifully written, as always. Do you have a background in art history or material culture?
-Jane W.

Adrienne said...

What a great story! I was picturing you with the guard and your camera in the security office. I wouldn't have been so nervous. I hate getting into trouble.

These are such beautiful illustrations.
I always learn something new about fashion from your posts. Such high quality writing and interesting material.
xo, A

Chicatanyage said...

What a wonderful exhibition. I adore fashion sketches and am lucky to own some originals by Bill Gibb from the 70s. Thanks for the invite re the burgundy. Do not own much as it is not my best colour but do have a pr of loafers in London. Will try to make deadline.

Angele Style said...

Your pictures are a joy for my senses this morning. And how wonderful they are at your library for all to see. Thank you for posting all of them and with the information behind them I feel enriched in body, mind and spirit. Thank you so much!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Haha, I was reminded of how I got out of a speeding ticket while reading your post. Nicely done! I got out of it, too! ;)

Great post! Lovely prints/illustrations!

poppykettle said...

you lucky thing you!!!

Anonymous said...

Oooh, these pictures are gorgeous! I wish these were available in prints to art-up my office walls.

JaninJabitt said...

Thanks so much for letting us see so many things that most of us never get to see in person. Your blog has become one of my favorites, as much for the commentary as the photos. My husband is a fan as well, and particularly loved "Ivy Style." Please keep sharing!
Jan at http://fortsmithstylista.blogspot.com

Veshoevius said...

Way to go Jill! Great thinking and it paid off handsomely! I'll have to remember PR office if I ever find myself in the same situation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill,
What a lovely post! It would have been so sad for us and for the Library as well to have had your camera confiscated. These drawings are awesome!
Next time it happens you tell them you have thousands of readers who will be informed right away of your misfortune. LOL ! But obviously tenacity and diplomacy pays more than ranting...
You did a wonderful job as a negociator, interviewer, photographer, and writer! You have many talents :-)
Thanks for sharing all these unique treasures with us. It was like being for real at the exhibit!

fashion.doc said...

Thanks for the pictures! I knew about this exhibition and have been waiting for someone to upload the pictures. Totally in love with fashion illustration.


Fashion Tales said...

Brilliant Jill! Totally works! I'm so happy that she rescued you as well. Lopez have such a distinct style. I've always loved fashion illustration. These are stunning images.
*And entirely been too swamped and forgot about the oxblood outfit, I will have to do one later on the blog. Will check back here later.-xx Enjoy your week./ Madison