The In­sta­gram artists your fash­ion­able feed needs now.

Fash­ion illustration gets the front-row treat­ment thanks to so­cial media.

ELLE (Canada) - - Contents - ByWendyKaur

at the Fendi spring/sum­mer 2017 show, while iPhone-wield­ing on­look­ers squirmed to cap­ture the pa­rade of looks from the Lucite cat­walk, Me­gan Hess was look­ing down at her note­book. The Aus­tralian fash­ion il­lus­tra­tor was hired by the brand to live-sketch Karl Lager­feld’s Marie An­toinet­tein­spired run­way show. Sit­ting across from Anna Win­tour, she scrib­bled fu­ri­ously with her cus­tom Mont­blanc pen, paus­ing only for a quick scan of a striped pe­plum jacket or flo­ral apron as it went by.

Five years ago, such an in­vi­ta­tion would have been as un­likely as see­ing celeb kids front row at Fash­ion Week. But there is a grow­ing num­ber of fash­ion il­lus­tra­tors—both arm­chair sketch­ers and those hired by fash­ion houses—who are pick­ing up pen­cils, paints and even tablets (the lat­ter thanks to draw­ing apps like Paint Joy) and sketch­ing shows. A few ex­am­ples: NYC-based James Skar­bek did sketches of Tommy Hil­figer’s nos­tal­gic-meets-nau­ti­cal fall/win­ter 2016 see-now, buy-now col­lec­tion for Face­book and Twit­ter; Oscar de la Renta asked artists, in­clud­ing Maria Sa­por­ito, for sketches from the brand’s spring/sum­mer 2017 show to share on In­sta­gram; and Toronto na­tive and Tel Aviv-based fash­ion il­lus­tra­tor Talia Zoref was in­vited by Mis­soni to draw her top looks from the spring/sum­mer run­ways and post them on so­cial media.

Ac­claimed il­lus­tra­tor Bil Dono­van, whose ros­ter of fash­ion clients would make up your dream closet, says he sees the medium’s grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity as a re­ac­tion to a “world sat­u­rated by photography and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy where one photo seems in­sep­a­ra­ble from the next.” Indeed, how many times have you seen the same fuzzy smart­phone shot of Bella Ha­did or overed­ited im­age of Ken­dall Jen­ner on the run­way while scrolling In­sta Sto­ries

dur­ing Fash­ion Week? Illustration, ar­gues Dono­van, of­fers a re­prieve from this vis­ual monotony be­cause “it cap­tures the essence of fash­ion through the vi­sion of the artist.” (And, thanks to plat­forms like In­sta­gram, it can be seen by a global au­di­ence in sec­onds.)

Hess, who has drawn for la­bels like Chanel, Dior and Prada, as well as sev­eral mag­a­zines, agrees. “As photography has be­come so per­fect and slick, illustration has be­come more per­sonal and be­spoke,” she says. “It’s a more in­ti­mate way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing.”

The irony? So­cial media is re­spon­si­ble for its re­nais­sance. Search# fash­ion illustration on Ins tag ram and you’ll find close to two mil­lion posts—not bad for a medium that orig­i­nated as a vis­ual record of sorts for Euro­pean set­tlers in the New World in the 1500s. By the time of the 17th-cen­tury court of Louis XIV (es­sen­tially a 24-7 fash­ion show), it was com­mon prac­tice to cre­ate prints of the lav­ish cou­ture, ac­cord­ing to his­to­rian Cally Black­man, au­thor of 100 Years of Fash­ion Illustration. Later, from the 18th to early-20th cen­turies, fash­ion mag­a­zines used the medium to show­case de­signer clothes.

To­day’s fash­ion houses want the same endgame as those mag­a­zines: buzz. “We live in a very fast-paced, dig­i­tal world where you need so­cial con­tent quickly,” says Skar­bek. “The essence of fash­ion illustration is cap­tur­ing a mo­ment, a feel­ing, so it’s per­fectly suited to cap­tur­ing the en­er­gies of these run­way shows that can then be shared across mul­ti­ple so­cial-media plat­forms.”

A run­way sketch typ­i­cally takes about five min­utes, tops, so two or three can be done and posted by the time a show is over. Ac­cord­ing to Scott Levy, CEO of the NYC-based dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing firm Fuel On­line, this in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion “fu­els the fire and pas­sion of art and high de­sign.”

In­flu­en­tial il­lus­tra­tors like Hess, Mea­gan Mor­ri­son and Toronto na­tive Don­ald Robert­son are now In­sta celebs, with hun­dreds of thou­sands of fol­low­ers. And, if a brand’s lucky, con­sumers en­gage with them—one of Hess’ sketches from the Fendi show got 37,700 likes on the brand’s In­sta­gram. What’s the key to all those dou­ble taps? “I al­ways make sure to keep the brand’s DNA in mind, but I must cre­ate some­thing com­pletely in my style and project a new and in­spir­ing vis­ual,” says Hess. Not even the all-see­ing cam­era can cap­ture that. h

Mea­gan Mor­ri­son Blair Bre­it­en­stein Don­ald Robert­son Bil Dono­van Me­gan Hess Un­skilled Worker

Me­gan Hess

Blair Bre­it­en­stein

Bil Dono­van

Don­ald Robert­son

Un­skilled Worker

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