In The Line of Fashion

84989In my attempt to find inspirations for a huge dateline, I went to see the latest exhibition at The Society of Illustrators last week. The Line of Fashion” was a visual exhibition to pay tribute to sketching, drawing, mixed media collages, and color rendering, serving as the main staples of fashion. Long before photography was commonly used in books and magazines, illustrations were the only media for visualization. Even today, as computer and design programs are accessible, there are still many designers who prefer to sketch and hand draw their whole fashion line. Hand drawing adds a nice touch, depth and character to any designs. It is actually important for a designer to know how to hand sketch, on top of his own ability to design using any computer -aided programs. Joe Eula lended a hand to sketch every single look of Halston‘s first runway show because he couldn’t afford a Polaroid. Photography could be duplicated, retouched and look outdated, whereas lines and hand sketching would remain timeless and personified. (above photo: Untitled, Illustration by Alvaro, image courtesy of society of illustrators and


Joe Eula’s sketches of Halston’s first runway show, image courtesy of society of illustrators and

Not until 1932 that Vogue started to use photography in their magazine cover, and illustrations started to be moved into their inside pages. “Beginning in 1963 photography increasingly took the place of fashion illustration. If you have an acceptable photograph and an acceptable illustration, then a good illustration will always outweigh a good photograph”, said  Rene Gruau – whose iconic sketches from the forties to the eighties graced the pages of Flair, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. 


Evening Catwalk, Illustration by Bil Donovan, collage of cut paper, cover of Italian WWD. (1988) image courtesy of society of illustrators and

The free exhibition mainly featured fashion illustrations especially from the forties and fifties during their glorious days, and also some recent works of today’s illustrators, all focusing on illustration as a tool to communicate fashion. As quoted from the Cut, “Because when you’re looking for inspiration and all else fails, you can always go back to the drawing board.”


J’Adore Coco, Illustration by Steven Broadway, gouache and pencil. (2009) image courtesy of society of illustrators, and


Below are some additional photos from the exhibition

The Line of Fashion at Society of Illustrators, New York,  April 1- May 2nd 2009

Click here to view more images from the exhibition

Sources and images courtesy of,,,, 100 years of fashion illustrations