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Opening on 7 January 2020 at The Society of Illustrators, NYC is a seminal exhibition curated from the archives of The Frances Neady Collection of Original Fashion Illustration held at the Special Collections of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).  The exhibition presents a graphic record of the evolution of fashion illustration from the 1920s to today providing a vivid cultural & visual reflection of fashion through aesthetic, cultural, & social shifts.

The exhibition Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries, A Century of Illustrations from the Frances Neady Collection exhibits 65 of the finest examples of fashion illustration that exemplifies technical virtuosity & aesthetic quality when rendered by the masters of the genre.  Each artist has illustrated extensively for leading department stores, magazines & corporations including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Women’s Wear Daily, Town & Country, Luxure Magazine, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Elizabeth Arden & Tiffany & Co.

Highlights of Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries, A Century of Illustrations from the Frances Neady Collection include Carl (Eric) Erickson’s (1891 – 1959) portrait of the Comtesse de Munoz from 1928; Antonio Lopez’s (1943 – 1987) astounding original work of female aviator Amelia Earhart as a goddess on a swing; Harvey Boyd’s (1942 – 1994) colorful whirlwind of line & pattern for Valentino; René Bouché’s (1905 – 1963) intimate 1944 ink drawing Tatiana et Alex; Gene Lloyd’s ( – ) illuminated & quirky 1958 work depicting a woman in fur coat & conical hat for Harper’s Bazaar; Henry Koehler’s (1927 – 2018) illustration for Town & Country that exemplifies the glamour & élan of New York society in the 1970s with a Mondrian-like sensibility & British artist David Downton’s (1959 -) 2003 portrait of fashion icon Carmen Dell’Orefice for The Telegraph Magazine.

During the duration of the Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries exhibition, the Society is proud to be partnering with Dress for Success and donating $1,500 to help support the incredible work that they do. A portion of event ticket sales and museum admission will go towards this contribution.

Dress for Success®, a global not-for-profit organization that has helped more than one million women achieve financial independence. They provide professional attire, a network of support and a variety of programs to help clients thrive in work and in life. Program focus areas include financial literacy, job placement and career advancement, health and wellness, as well as leadership and civic responsibility. With more than 150 affiliates operating in nearly 30 countries, Dress for Success has served as the model for women’s empowerment for almost 25 years. 

– Bil Donovan (Chair of the Frances Neady Collection) comments:

“As founder of the Frances Neady Collection the esteemed illustrator, author & educator Rosemary Torre wrote ‘life informs art and, at its best, art informs life’. This is especially relevant in the exhibition Fashion Illustration: The Visionaries, A Century of Illustrations from the Frances Neady Collection. The exhibition gives us a glimpse into our past & provides a hint of our future with work that embodies grace, spirit, style, & passion”.

About Frances Neady Collection
The Frances Neady Collection contains over 400 illustrations by the prominent fashion illustrators of the 20th & 21st Century. Many of these original illustrations have been reproduced in American & foreign publications such as VogueHarper’s BazaarFemina, & L’Officiel.  The collection is a testament to the importance of fashion artists within the history of fashion. It parallels the impact of fashion photography on the field, encompasses work from 1913 to the present, & offers a view of history through aesthetic, cultural, & social shifts preserved in the idealized vision of fashion illustration. The collection was established in 1983 by Rosemary Torre & Frederick Bennett as a memorial to Frances Neady, an inspiring & dedicated teacher of fashion illustration, who served on the faculties of FIT and the Parsons School of Design for 40 years.

About FIT Special Collections
Special Collections acquires, preserves, & provides access to a wide range of primary research materials in their original formats & across many languages & geographical spectra. The 3,200 titles housed in Special Collections have been vetted for their rarity or importance in the fields of fashion, textile, costume, & interior design. The collection includes 6,000 linear feet of books, periodicalsoral histories, & designer scrapbooks. The growing collection of 420 unique manuscript collections contains more than 500,000 works on paper, many of which are original designer sketches. The manuscript collections are especially strong in their documentation of American fashion design from the late nineteenth century through the 1970s, Broadway & Hollywood costume design, & the history of New York City’s own Seventh Avenue Garment District.

About Society of Illustrators
The Society of Illustrators’ mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history & evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures & education, & to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community at large. Founded in 1901, the Society of Illustrators is the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the art of illustration in America. Notable Society members have been N.C. Wyeth, Rube Goldberg, & Norman Rockwell, among many others.

About Gray M.C.A
Gray MCA has been described by Vogue magazine as “The UK’s first permanent independent gallery specialising in original 20th century fashion illustration ..”. Gray M.C.A exhibits both in the UK & the US & represents both leading international fashion illustrators and artists estates. Gallery Curator Connie Gray lectures internationally on the history of Fashion Illustration.

Image credit info:

Jim Howard
Decade of work: 1980 1990
Date: 1983
Charcoal Wash Pastel
20”x 30”

Autumn Whitehurst                                                                           
Decade of work: 2000 2010
Title of work Sugar and Skin
Date 2007
Size of Work 22”h x 15”w
Medium digital

George Stavrinos                                                                                           
Decade of work 1980 1990
Girl with Fans
Graphite on Paper
19.5” x 15.75”

Hiroshi Tanabe
Decade of work: 1990 2000
Yves Saint Laurent
Client: L’Official
Date: 2016
17 1/8” x 14”

Barbara Pearlman
Decade of work 1970 1980
Circa 1970’s
Charcoal on Vellum Paper
23 ½ “ x 18 ½ “


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