|The cover features a work by George Barbier from 1921.|
When a lovely representative from Quarto Publishing reached out to me asking if I would like to review the new book The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration by Julian Robinson, with Gracie Calvey, I could not pass up the opportunity to see this in person! Anyone who’s been reading my blog for awhile knows what a fan I am of fashion illustration. It is an art form I find irresistible and I often think fashion illustrations are even more inspiring than fashion photographs simply for the different talents of each illustrator.
The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration, which is big and luxurious and the kind of book you will want to read yourself and also leave on a coffee table to share with guests, covers 400 years of fashion illustration, from the Renaissance to the end of the Art Deco period, and features over 350 stunning illustrations.
|The back of the book is as gorgeous as the front. I love this picture!|
|I agree with Robinson, friezes and sculptures are a form of fashion illustration too.|
Robinson’s premise is that fashion illustration is an ancient art, “perhaps the oldest of all art forms,” and he believes that fashion images, whether depicted in sculpture or paint, “show that the shape and surface detailing we call fashion is a very ancient, very human preoccupation.” I could not agree more! I think the history of fashion is also the history of the world and I loved that Robinson included photos of Ancient Greek friezes, an Assyrian bas-relief (I am crazy about ancient Near Eastern art!) and an Iberian limestone carving as examples of early fashion images. The skilled artisans of the time may have been highlighting Ancient Greek or Assyrian ideals or immortalizing what an Iberian noblewoman looked like, but they were also capturing details of clothing styles of the time, both actual and aspirational.
|One stunning bride! By Armand Vallée, 1913.|
I loved this quote from the book, which sums up the beautiful tome so well:
“This, then, is not an art history or a social history or even a history of fashion, although a little background is enlightening. Nor is it a book about the commercialization of fashion or the rise of fashion photography. It is, quite simply, an invitation to look at the work of these talented artists not as commercial fashion images or historical costume records, but as images in their own right.”
And what wonderful images they are! The works come from the Julian Robinson Archive and there is something to admire on every single page. It was hard for me to choose which pictures to share with you because I found myself loving so many of them. I think one reason why fashion illustration never fails to delight me is because the best work stands completely alone as just a gorgeous picture!
|A British magazine illustration from 1935.|
|Another George Barbier work, from 1922.|
This book should be required reading (and gazing) for anyone studying fashion, fashion history, costuming, and illustration. I hope it finds its way into the libraries of fashion schools as well as public libraries, but it would also make a terrific addition to any private library—maybe yours?
Here are more of my favorite illustrations included in the book:
|I wish I had this hanging on my wall. Look at the color!|
I absolutely adore the work above, by Pierre-Thomas Leclerc, taken from La Galerie des Modes. It is a hand-colored copperplate engraving from 1782. It is a full page in the book, drenched with color, and the details are exquisite.
|I am crazy for this work by George Barbier, 1913.|
The above work by George Barier, from Le Journal des Dames et des Modes, from 1913, is another one I would love to have framed and hanging on the wall. I love its colors and delicate lines.
|By Paul Allier, mid-1920s.|
Yet another picture I would love to see on the wall, especially in the winter, is the above work by Paul Allier, from the mid-1920s. Love the colors, love the silhouette!
|I love the patterns and colors in this illustration from 1923.|
The above work was the cover art for Art-Goût-Beauté, 1923. Don’t you wish fashion magazines looked like this today?
|Love this picture of glam ladies in glam hats!|
How glamorous are the ladies above, in their wonderful hats? This picture was created by Eduardo García Benito and is from Album de Figaro, 1943. I love the expression on the lady in the feathered turban!
|The glamorous life! An illustration by Laurence Fellows from the 1930s.|
The picture above, by Laurence Fellows, looks like the kind of party I would want to attend on New Year’s Eve!
If you get a chance to look through The Fine Art of Fashion Illustration at the bookstore don’t be surprised if you suddenly realize you want to own this book!
Disclosure: Quatro Publishing sent me the book for review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.