Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Fashion Illustration

Yesterday I had a very exciting meeting with Nina Due, exhibitions director of the Design Museum. Even though it is almost a year away, we are beginning to get down to work in earnest on the exhibition of fashion drawings that I am curating for the museum. I have always loved fashion illustrations and have a very small collection of my favourites, but this exhibition is from a very much larger private collection amassed over many years by Joelle Chariau, a dealer and private collector based in Munich. Its highlights - and the basis of the exhibition - are work by Georges Lepape, Rene Gruau, Antonio, Mats Gustafson and Francois Berthoud who together span the entire twentieth century, which saw fashion illustration reach a fabulous peak and then very quickly dwindle and die due to commercial pressures on magazines to use photographs. We plan to display at least twenty original works from each artist, supplemented by the work of others such as Iribe, Erte, Erik, Berard and Bouche, so that it is a real survey of the creme de la creme. We are now looking to source film of these amazingly talented artists actually working.

It is a privilege to be involved with such high calibre material as this. Joelle's collection of original fashion illustrations must be the world's very best still in private hands. The hard part is knowing what to show - but any left out will, I hope, appear in the book I am writing to accompany the exhibition. Meanwhile, I am poring over reproductions of all these amazing works and trying hard to pretend that I am working hard!

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