This month’s display at LCF Library showcases fashion illustration from our Special Collection. Fashion illustration in simple terms aims to communicate ideas about fashion, but the results are often works of art in themselves. Fashion illustration has numerous outlets such as magazine covers & stories, posters, cosmetic advertisements, lifestyle advertisements, entertainment products and more. LCF Special Collections holds fashion illustration related texts that date back to the early 1900s, so our display starts there and spans the decades up to the current day.

The technical fundamentals of image construction and drawing are covered by texts that outline the practicalities of fashion illustration. Mabel L Hall’s Fashion Drawing and Dress Design (1928) contains beautiful black and red illustration plates outlining anatomy, proportions and poses. Following on in chronological order, Shorthand Fashion Sketching by Patricia L Rowe (1960) demonstrates a rich illustration vocabulary of draping from blouses, necklines, collars, sleeves, skirts, hemlines, hats to coats. The book aims to teach “in the quickest possible time, by the shortest possible method, how to sketch fashions in the most practical way.”[1] Fashion Drawing by John Ireland (1979) responds to varying silhouettes, textures and fabrics as well as demonstrating Ireland’s confident flair for design. These books show the most efficient and accurate ways to execute fashion drawings.


Examples of fully realised drawings are shown in David Downton’s tome Masters of Fashion Illustration (2010) which presents a history of fashion illustration. Leading fashion illustrator Downton selects outstanding artworks by illustrators from the 20th century as well as including a portfolio of his own celebrated works. Fashion Drawings in Vogue by William Packer showcases the work of Carl Erickson, an artist whose work was prominently featured in magazines throughout the 1940s and 1950s. This monograph concentrates on his illustration for Vogue during the war, which undoubtedly influenced fashion and therefore fashion illustration during this period. The most contemporary compendium of fashion illustration in our display comes from The Age of Feminine Drawing from the beginning of the 21st century. It holds numerous examples of fashion illustration from diverse artists specifically focusing on the female form. The book aims to demonstrate “how and why illustration in fashion has made an amazing comeback. Having virtually reached saturation point, photography is no longer the all-powerful medium of creativity, and has once again given way to the age old art of drawing. [2]


[1] Patricia L Rowe, Shorthand fashion sketching (New York: Fairchild Publications 1960)
[2] Federico Gallo, The Age of Feminine Drawing (Hong Kong: AllRightsReserved 2007)