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Fashion Illustration: The Evolution of Elegance
January 25 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
In collaboration with Gray M.C.A., we are offering a unique opportunity to join five eminent fashion illustrators as they discuss the evolution of fashion illustration as Fine Art and what the future holds for this elegant genre chaired by author and journalist Susan Mulcahy.
About the Artists
Susan Mulcahy is an editor and writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair and other publications. She has published three books, including Drawing Fashion: The Art of Kenneth Paul Block.
David Downton is internationally the most respected and celebrated fashion artist and portraitist working today with a deep understanding for the genre that clearly resonates in his work. With his sweeping style and a perfect economy of line, Downton is the natural successor to the original twentieth century masters of fashion illustration Carl Erickson, René Bouët Willaumez and René Bouché with a hint of the more graphic line of René Gruau. These artists were the epitome of fashion drawing at its finest and it is entirely correct for Downton to be placed within this illustrious grouping. Downton carries the golden age of fashion illustration into the twenty first century with an unparalleled sophistication. Since the 1990s, Downton has been invited to draw the Paris haute couture shows just as the original masters were invited to do. Amongst an extensive list of clients with whom Downton has collaborated are Dior, Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Harrods and Estée Lauder and his work has featured regularly in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Luxure Magazine and V Magazine. Downton’s work as a portrait painter echoes the talents of de László and Singer Sargent. He expertly blurs the lines between fashion and fine portraiture and has consequently been invited to paint some of the most famous and beautiful icons of our age including Cate Blanchett, Dita Von Teese, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Catherine Deneuve, Joan Collins, Iman, Linda Evangelista, Rachel Weisz and Paloma Picasso. In 2011 Downton was appointed the first Artist-in-Residence for Claridge’s Hotel, London to sketch the hotel’s most illustrious guests from the world of fashion and style. Downton’s portraits are now held in the hotel’s permanent collection and currently line the entrance to the French Salon. To celebrate The Victoria & Albert Museum’s seminal exhibition ‘Golden Age of Couture’ (2007), Downton was invited to draw the exhibition artwork. Downton acts as Editor at Large writing and illustrating for Airmail magazine edited by former Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter and has written two bestselling books; Masters of Fashion Illustration and Portraits of the World’s Most Stylish Women (Laurence King). His most recent book Drawing Carmen was published in 2021 (DD Publishing Ink). Downton’s work is held in the permanent collections of The Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Palais Galliera Musée de la Mode, Paris and The Frances Neady Collection of Original Fashion Illustration, New York. Museum exhibitions have included The Victoria & Albert Museum, London and Museo ABC, Madrid. Downton’s influence and sublime eye is key to the revival of fashion illustration as a refined and entirely artful medium in the communication of fashion, style and beauty.
Bil Donovan is America’s leading contemporary fashion illustrator with an international following. For the past twelve years Donovan has held the esteemed title of Artist-in-Residence for Christian Dior, a position that underlines his standing as a master of fashion illustration with a flowing style that perfectly reflects the elegance and history of the House of Dior. Donovan utilises an innate sense of selectivity to communicate the essence of glamour, luxury and style in all his work. His creative language is entirely unique whilst at the same time being rooted in the finest traditions of fine art painting. His economy of line, predominantly in watercolour, flows across the page creating natural movement and strength whilst perfectly capturing the beauty of the fashion he is illustrating. Donovan’s instantly recognisable illustrative style has led to an enviable list of clients that include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Vogue, Luxure Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Bergdorf Goodman, St. Regis Hotels, L’Occitane, Halston and Saks Fifth Avenue. Of particular note is a large-scale painting in the signature Christian Dior suite at the St. Regis Hotel, New York. Donovan serves on the Executive Board of The Society of Illustrators, New York, chairs the Advisory Board for The Frances Neady Collection of Original Fashion Illustration, New York and is an esteemed Professor of Illustration at both F.I.T and The School of Visual Arts, New York. In 2020 Donovan chaired the acclaimed exhibition ‘Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries’ at The Society of Illustrators, celebrating one hundred years of fashion illustration. Donovan’s work is held in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Collection, New York, The Frances Neady Collection of Original Fashion Illustration, New York and The Society of Illustrators, New York. Exhibitions include The Leslie Lohman Museum, New York (2013) and The Brooklyn Museum, New York (2020).
The painterly quality of Steven Stipelman’s work places him firmly in the category of a fine art painter whilst being one of the most respected American fashion artists of the latter half of the twentieth century. For more than twenty five years Stipelman created breath taking illustrations for the pages of Women’s Wear Daily and W Magazine with beautiful, elongated silhouettes that instantly communicated a sophisticated look with vivid clarity. Stipelman’s work brings the impression of movement through a spontaneity of brush strokes, acrylics and watercolour washes that appears timeless in their elegance. Having graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, Stipelman’s first job was as a staff illustrator for the luxury department store Henri Bendel before moving to Women’s Wear Daily in 1965. Here he covered the collections of every prominent American designer including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karen, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta. In Paris, Stipelman would illustrate Dior, Balenciaga, Pauline Trigère, Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent and Courrèges for an American audience. Freelance work included Lord & Taylor and Marshall Field, Estée Lauder and Chanel cosmetics and Valentino. In the 1970s and 80s he was commissioned to draw the portraits of Babe Paley, Jaqueline Onassis and Nancy Reagan. Today, Stipelman shares his passion and knowledge as an esteemed professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York and is author of ‘Illustrating Fashion: Concept to Creation’ (Fairchild Books) now in its third edition.
As one of the A-list fashion illustrators of the 70s and 80s, Glenn Tunstull’s fashion illustrations defined a generation of fashion. Following graduation from Parsons School of Design, New York Tunstull’s work was regularly published in US Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times, Marie Claire and Women’s Wear Daily. As the first African American fashion illustrator to work for Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue Italia featured Tunstull in a special edition owing to his outstanding contribution to the Arts. The elite of fashion championed Tunstull’s work including Hermes, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Versace, Kenzo, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. Beauty campaigns included exceptional drawings for L’Oréal and Revlon. Tunstull currently teaches at The Fashion Institute of Technology, The Pratt Institute and Parson’s New School of Design, New York. Aside from teaching, Tunstull is also a highly regarded fine art painter predominantly of expansive landscapes and seascapes based on close observation.
Jason Brooks is an award-winning fashion and lifestyle illustrator who leads the way as a master of bold and impactful contemporary imagery. Since graduating from The Royal College of Art, London in the 1980s, he has gained an international reputation for his outstanding visuals and is credited as being one of the first to bring computer technology into the field of fashion and illustrative art. Whether working in pen and ink or via a digital platform, his work is rooted in classic fine art drawing that captures the imagination and communicates a look with assurance and grace. The glamorous and aspirational world that Brooks presents in his work has attracted high profile collaborations with a wide range of luxury and lifestyle brands, most recently for Super Yacht Monaco. Other collaborations have included Lancôme, Revlon, Mercedes Benz, Chanel, Tiffany & Co, Virgin Atlantic, Veuve Clicquot and Ritz Hotels. Travel, alongside fashion is a recurrent theme in his work. He is the author of a series of illustrated travel sketchbooks focusing on Paris, London and New York. New York Sketchbook and London Sketchbook were both finalists in The Victoria & Alberts Museum’s Book Illustration Awards, London Sketchbook winning the prestigious award in 2016. The museum holds an impressive collection of Brooks’ works in its permanent prints and drawings archive. His work has been selected to feature in a number of books including 100 Years of Fashion Illustration (Laurence King), Fashion Illustration Now (Thames & Hudson), Stylishly Drawn (Harry Abrams Inc.) and on the front cover of New Icons of Fashion Illustration (Laurence King).