Sunday, 3 June 2012

Visual Language Theory in Fashion Illustration

Deep in thought today about how clothes speak a language and how the artists who have illustrated them throughout history have found the "key" visual cues to capture the zeitgeist of that era.To generalize the idea Roland Barthes puts forward on clothing as a mode of communication, we could say that clothes give signals and let us know things about each other through various forms of communication.

I refer to this image by Barbier, wonderfully titled Grandmother & Little girl as a representation of fashions changing appearance at the turn of the twentieth century. From the obvious skirt length to the uncovered neck and arms, Barbier has shifted the scene into the early twentieth century and heralds the emergence of the Flapper girl.

92What do you think this is saying? Also from Barbier, who was known as one of the "Knights of the Bracelet"?

In 1971 Italian Vogue, Antonio shows African American women, elegantly portrayed but with little sense of celebration. In fact, after Antonio's bold use of ethnicity in his model choice, society saw a reflection of themselves, in real time, but was this spread published in Italy intended as a statement on United States racial tensions.
Italian Vogue 1971. Pentel, 18 x 24"

Marie Clare, France, 1983.  Pencil / watercolor, 13 x 17"In this next image, Antonio Lopez links the image of a Josephine Baker poster (in which she has been removed) drawing attention to the lack of coloured models in the fashion publishing world  in a spread for Marie Claire in 1983. 

Fashion Illustration has spoken clearly to the emerging and relevant topics and perhaps, as artists, are often leading societal change and only depicting what they themselves are living...

Critical Desires: Race and Sexuality in the Work of Antonio
Amelia Malagamba-Ansótegui and Ramón Rivera-Servera, from The University of Texas at Austin



    1. Now that takes me back!

      I would love to think you were still doing some illustrations for your collections, it adds such a wonderful element. I have been so busy creating digital illustration for the past few years, I long for lazy days of life drawing and doodling. Nothing too political however, not trying to change the world, just draw a better frock ;-}


What if designer's planned that their designs would be around for 3000-5000 years?

It's just a thought, but I think we take the notion of slow fashion too lightly. It takes a long time to make a true Haute Couture gown,...