Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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Fur. The mere mention of the word makes many cringe. In western urban culture, it's a contentious topic that divides us into two groups: those who deem fur fashion READ MORE...
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Earlier this week, I was in the comments section of a blog I frequent, and someone had posted a photo of a shirtless, young guy with red hair sticking his tongue out cheekily READ MORE...
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The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's READ MORE...
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The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
Example Frame

July 04, 2014

Showstudio Illustrates the Men's Collections SS15

Showstudio_john-booth_juun-j-paris-fashion-week-illustrationJohn Booth's collage interpretation of looks at Juun J in Paris

Each season Showstudio invites their favourite fashion illustrators to create their own unique view of the collections, then they present each series on their tumblr. Whereas New York kicks off the women's collections, it's where the men's wraps up, so these are being conjured up right now. So far we've got London, Milan and Paris, interpreted through a variety of media and perpectives. (Just a thought after browing the Showstudio homepage, something I do often - Is there a better site for conveying the visual excitement and energy of fashion? I don't think there could be. If there is, please show it to me!) 

Here are a few that stood out to me, and if you see an illustration you love, you can buy the original from Showstudio's online shop

PARIS by John Booth, London-based illustrator and textile designer: 

Showstudio_john-booth_paris-fashion-week-illustrationDior Homme


Henrik Vibskov


Paul Smith


MILAN by Marie Cunliffe, London-based womenswear designer:


Frankie Morello




Bottega Veneta




LONDON by Eduardo Mata Icaza, Marseilles-based illustrator: 


Alexander McQueen


J.W. Anderson




Jonathan Saunders

February 25, 2013

The British Library to Host Celebration of Film, Design and Fashion

A section from Julie Verhoeven's new artwork for the British Library's Spring Festival © Julie Verhoeven

Following the success of last year’s Spring Festival, the British Library will again host a star-studded five day celebration of the creative industries from March 1st - 5th. Aiming to inspire creative practitioners from all over the country, this year’s Festival invites industry experts, from Dylan Jones, editor-in-chief of GQ magazine, to leading fashion illustrator and artist Julie Verhoeven, whose portfolio includes Louis Vuitton, Versace and Mulberry, to speak about their sources of inspiration. 

International Vogue PosterFrom Russian propaganda to rainforest recordings, the treasures from the British Library’s archives have inspired up-and-coming creatives as well as established artists. This year the Library will reveal a brand new piece of art from Verhoeven to celebrate the Festival and, as a tribute to the Library's incredible collections, a series of postcards from some of the most influential figures in the fashion world, including Gareth Pugh, Alex Fury, Adam Selman and Christopher Kane, telling of their favourite item in the Library will be on display as part of a one-night pop-up exhibition. Also featuring that night will be the Library’s historic issues of fashion magazines, from Vogue to I-D, all part of Late at the Library: Fashion Flashback, an evening of music and fashion co-curated by the Central Saint Martins Fashion History and Theory degree students. The evening will also see GQ's Jones and fashion illustrator Tanya Ling give a special ‘In conversation with…’ talk, an exclusive ‘paper fashion show’ of specially commissioned designs by the Central Saint Martins Print Design course, a styling area where guests can receive makeovers with Chantecaille inspired by iconic looks taken from the Library’s Cecil Beaton archives, live costume drawing and sets by iconic British DJs, Princess Julia and Jeffrey Hinton.  

‘Manhood by Michel Leiris. Find it, read it, it will change your life’ – Gareth Pugh

Christopher Kane Postcard

My favourite book is Tokyo Lucky Hole, by Araki Nobuyoshi’ – Christopher Kane

Celebrating new work from budding filmmakers in the UK, the Library and IdeasTap launched an exciting debut film competition during London Film Festival. Filmmakers were asked to produce a new short film using sounds from the Library’s unique wildlife recordings, from haddock to bats. The winning film will be shown during the Festival alongside award-winning shorts from the Future Shorts Festival including the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at 2012 Sundance Film Festival ‘Fishing without nets’.

Designers from all over the country have once again been invited to host a stall at this year’s Spring Market on the Library’s piazza, selling products inspired by the Library’s collections and nurtured to market by its Business & IP Centre. The list of designers can be viewed here, and to watch a video of last year’s market on the piazza see here

Spring Festival market
Spring Festival Market, 2012

For more information about attending the festival and for a listing of events, you can visit The British Library website

January 23, 2013

Great Gatsby Fashion: Then and Now

The Great Gatsby's release in May is going to unleash a frenzy for 1920s fashion, much like The Artist,  Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, and the 1974 film adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, starring Mia Farrow, have. (It's hard to believe the 1974 film influenced fashion trends if this is any indication of taste at the time.) The lust for dropped waists, chiffon overlays and delicate beading really is guaranteed to explode this spring: the costumes for the film are a dream collaboration between Miuccia Prada, renowned film and stage costume designer Catherine Martin, and Baz Luhrman who directed the film. (Martin and Luhrman have been married since 1997, first meeting at college in their native Australia, and the couple have worked together ever since. I'll bet their dinner conversation is awesome.)

Fashionistas are going nuts now that Prada have released Miuccia's sketches of designs from the film, which are worn by Carey Mulligan who stars as Daisy Buchanan. Here are glimpses of four out of the 40 cocktail and evening dresses created, all of which are adapted from past Prada and Miu Miu collections:


 I'm very curious to see how the orange fishscale dress translates in the flesh!

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan in Baz Luhrman's film adaption of The Great Gatsby

Carey's character poster. Never mind the dress - my eyes are all over the art deco backdrop!

Let's go back to Mia Farrow as Buchanan, who was also in great company having been dressed by the great costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge, whose prolific and honoured career in film, television and stage spanned six decades. Aldredge won an Oscar and British Academy Award for her work in The Great Gatsby, and her designs from the film were adapted for a clothing line at Bloomingdales. 

Yes, that is Sam Waterston on the left behind Mia. 

More fun facts about The Great Gatsby, 1974 (the third filmed version of the novel):

  • The rights to the novel were purchased in 1971 by Robert Evans so that his wife Ali MacGraw could play Daisy. She blew that when she left him for Steve McQueen, who was originally considered for the role of Gatsby. Not surprising that he didn't get it.
  • Mia Farrow was pregnant during shooting and so wore loose, flowing dresses and was shot in tight close-ups to conceal her growing belly.
  • Truman Capote was the film's original screenwriter but was replaced by Francis Ford Coppola who later claimed the director, Jack Clayton, didn't pay much attention to it: "The film I wrote did not get made."
  • Critics weren't moved to "stand up and cheer": Vincent Canby made this statement in his review of the film in The New York Times : "The sets and costumes and most of the performances are exceptionally good, but the movie itself is as lifeless as a body that's been too long at the bottom of a swimming pool." Owwwch.  And gross.

I can't not mention Midnight in Paris, the Woody Allen film in which a nostalgic screenwriter (Owen Wilson) inexplicably finds himself inserted into 1920s Paris, first at a party with The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzergerald and his wife Zelda. The costumes, by Sonia Grande, are scrumptious. It's about as close to time travel to one of the most exciting eras in art, literature, fashion, music and philosophy in Paris as we can get. (They even go briefly back from then to La Belle Epoque!)

October 31, 2012

Bil Donovan Illustrates for Saks Fifth Avenue

Earlier this year, Bil Donovan was commissioned by Saks Fifth Avenue in New York to create fashion illustrations to accompany their Saksfirst rewards program promotions. I think it's such a thrill to see fashion illustration being used more prominently in commercial communications. (Twinings will be featuring Bil's work on their new range of limited edition Earl Grey teas.)

I'm going to put the question out here and on The Swelle Life's Facebook page:

Would you rather see photography with models or fashion illustration in fashion publicity? I think you can guess my answer! Creative photography using models never gets old (Nick Knight), but there is a standard look to most fashion and beauty retail photography that is less than inspiring. For example - if your favourite department store sent you a postcard for their latest promotion, would you be more tempted to keep it if it were a model standing by a window looking winsome, or this:


Here's the conversation happening on Facebook so far:

Sarah says: "I love both, as there is incredible talent in both areas...although I am more likely to keep examples of fashion illustrations."

Cyn says: "These are so beautiful! I think more campaigns needs to be illustrations again, so much more creative!!!!!"

Carol says: "Both art forms share equal talent and inspiration, I tend to prefer the fashion illustrations and would be more prone to want to keep an ad illustration rather than a photo. I would like to see a campaign with both styles used together creatively."


Let's hope others follow suit so that beautiful illustration such as Bil's can be a part of our daily lives!

Images courtesy of Bil Donovan - thanks Bil!

October 24, 2012

Nick Knight Explores Illustration with Karlie Kloss


"Karlie Kloss dies an elegant death in Nick Knight and Edward Enninful's arresting couture editorial for W magazine. The pair draw inspiration from the kind of macabre, nightmarish illustrations that litter childhood fiction, offering up a vision which is part Grimm's fairy tale part mature Parisian opulence. The final images - which see Kloss clad in the best haute couture from A/W 2012, including pieces by Dior, Givenchy, Chanel and Iris Van Herpen - straddle dark and light, combining symbolism that is both sweet and sinister.

"Continuing his exploration of contrasts, Knight juxtaposes the delicate vintage-look images with pithy modern 'death app' films that see Kloss suffer various violent deaths, all while clad in couture. The striking images in this editorial mark of the start of Knight's investigation into fashion illustration."

The story behind this extraordinary collection of images was summed up so succinctly on the Showstudio site, I just quoted it. Nick Knight never ceases to amaze, constanty exploring new ways to create stunning and compelling imagery, using high fashion garments and fashion's most inrtiguing muses to deliver his aesthetic message - this time blending photography with illustration and yet again achieving something new and exciting. As always, I am in awe!

There's also a bizarre accompaniment to the images. You can see it here








1-Fullscreen capture 24102012 205727

Click either  image to watch the Livestream on the Showstudio site of the photoshoot with Karlie Kloss. You get to see every detail that went into creating the images - well worth a look!

1-Fullscreen capture 24102012 210846

Images from Showstudio

September 12, 2012

Fashion Tea and Petites Madeleines

TheSwelleLife_BilsTea1The current collection of Twinings' fashion-illustrated packaging

If you're in the Philadelphia area, you can attend the book-signing party for  Birds of a Feather Shop Together, a book of fashion fairytales gorgeously illustrated by Bil Donovan. It's September 13 at Hotel Palomar Philadelphia in the Burnham Ballroom. You can buy tickets here. And not only will you be leaving with your own signed copy of this stunning book to take home, but also meet Bil who is just lovely.

A while back, Bil Donovan sent me images for Twinings' new limited edition Earl Grey flavours which feature his illustrations, to be sold in the European market. I was so excited about this collaboration between the English tea kings and Dior Beauty's resident artist (among many other designations); firstly, to be able to have Bil's gorgeous work greet me in my kitchen everyday is an absolute delight, and ultimately I was overjoyed by the fact that illustration is proving to be seen as fresh and desirable and worthy of investment by commercial entities, rather than a forgotten artform of days gone by (more proof of that to come). It's just very reassuring that in our trend-driven digital age, the value of the beauty of traditional fashion illustration is being upheld and celebrated.

However, in my haste to get these boxes into my kitchen I went out and bought some that feature the current packaging which is more dramatic in black, not realising there was a previous edition thus leaving me very confused because it didn't look like Bil's style! I don't know who these ladies belong to, but in their saturated watercolour couture they are a lovely accompaniment to your morning cup of tea.

So I'll be watching out for the next 'season' of these teas featuring Bil Donovan's work, which include these gorgeous illustrations (I love that each tea bag packet is like a little piece of art):


And as for the petites madeleines, the French crispy cakey cookie that I love but would forget about when not in Paris (which you can even buy in vending machines if you're desperate), I've found they are really easy to make and even easier to eat. Especially if you make the mini ones like I did. I used a silicone mould and it worked brilliantly, no sticking whatsoever so none of the nice crispy shell was lost.

And being French, they have a history. They go back to the 18th century in the French town of Commercy, in the region of Lorraine. The story goes that a girl name Madeleine made them for Stanislaw Lezczynski, Duke of Lorraine, who loved them so much that he then gave some to his daughter, Marie, the wife of Louis XV. And royal endorsement will make anything skyrocket to wild popularity, so here we are!

You can find the recipe I used at Joy of Baking, and I added a splash of rosewater which I could taste in the batter, but of course it lost its richness when baked so maybe some rose essence would help maintain the flavour. I'm still trying to find some test this out, and lemon poppyseed are next. Chocolate is inevitable. 


May 31, 2012

Beautiful Book: 'Birds of a Feather Shop Together'


The books I loved most as a little girl had two elements in common: lovely and colourful pictures,  and enchanting stories. The stuff of wonderful daydreams that made childhood magical. As the years have passed, I've found that through their vivid imagery and words, these affections have remained firmly embedded in the mind and in the heart.

So what a treat is to continue the tradition, thanks to Birds of a Feather Shop Together, a gorgeous and witty book of 'Aesop's Fables for the Fashionable Set', adapted by author Sandra Bark who serves up life lessons with delicious fashion savvy.  Bil Donovan masterfully brings the fables to life with his vibrant watercolour and ink illustrations, taking the anthology from bookshelf to proud display.

It's such a joy to read; a fashion and beauty indulgence that feels a bit of a guilty pleasure until you reach the end of the tale and see that fashion and morals can indeed coexist! The original stories are found at the back of the book, though once you've read Bark's there's no going back.

This book has become one of my daughter's favourites, and when I have to put it down because it's bedtime, she invariably reaches over and opens it back up to have a longer look at Bil's illustration for that story. I love that this book is one she'll remember for the rest of her life.

Birds of a Feather Shop Together is a hardcover book  (the cover has a gorgeous texture with brilliant colour saturation), published by Harper Collins, and includes 17  illustrated stories plus their originals. It is available to buy for £12.95.  

Huge thanks to Bil Donovan for introducing me to this beautiful book. It is much loved.

About the author and illustrator:

Sandra Bark is a New York Times bestselling author who collaborates on books with notable figures. The founder and curator of the street art blog the Scenic Sidewalk, Sandra lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Bil Donovan is a fashion illustrator whose work has appeared in various publications and advertising campaigns worldwide. A brand ambassador for Christian Dior Beauty, he teaches fashion illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is the author of Advanced Fashion Drawing: Lifestyle Illustration and illustrator of The Dress Doctor. He lives in New York City.

To read about Bil on The Swelle Life, including our interview, browse the Bil Donovan category here.

Here's a look at some the book's stunning story illustrations, by Bil Donovan:


'Birds of a Feather' - the level of detail is just incredible!


'A Birkin in the Hand'

'Carpe Dior'



'Amanda and the Grape Gaultier'


'Best Dressed'

Images provided courtesy of Bil Donovan

April 06, 2012

Sketch Night in New York with Bil Donovan

If you can't read the details, you can see the Society of Illustrators website for full details and to purchase a ticket. It goes without saying this is an incredible opportunity to sit with Bil and benefit from his guidance - and it costs hardly anything! For more on Bil Donovan see his website, and give yourself some time to get lost in it.  

Bil is a great friend of Swelle and arranged for me to receive the new book of fashion fairytales he illustrated called Birds of a Feather Shop Together by Sandra Bark, published by Harper Collins. Watch for the review next week, with gorgeous artwork by Bil Donovan of course!

January 18, 2012

Artist Series: Pop Fantastic's Susan Canaday Henry


Late last year I received a scrumptious surprise package containing two beautiful art prints from New York-based multi-media graphic artist Susan Canaday Henry. She knew just what to send - one was a lovely pastel-hued scene with a rendering in her own style of Marie Antoinette languishing on a chaise longue. I love the shades of blues, pinks and purples she used and would be happy to live forever in this room. (Especially if I had Ladies in Waiting as seen in the shadows. Oh wait, that would be weird, wouldn't it? I like to get dressed by myself. Maybe one to bring me tea and macarons every afternoon, that would work.)

The other is the Empress Wu Zetian, the only woman in Chinese history to rule as emperor.  The composition is gorgeously coloured in saturated blush, flame hues and crimson. Susan has outfitted her in long, dramatic stripes and an intriguing headdress. Her commanding presence against a backdrop of hazy dawn-lit mountains creates a portrait of power and serenity.

What  struck me first about Susan's works was the harmony of the beautiful colours in each, and what looked to be delicately hand drawn detail and watercolour layering in Marie Antoinette and painterly brushstrokes in  I didn't want Susan to give away any secrets but was curious how she created these images, and lucky for us she was willing to talk about it!

"The drawings all start as pencil/watercolor and then are oomphed digitally--- I think that's what gives them a sort of dreamy look.

"I get a lot of feedback that the colors in my illustrations are very bright, yet nuanced. I don't want to give secrets, but I think the watercolor base gives a weird glow to anything digital, and I aim to make sure you can still see the hand drawn beginnings of my illustrations. I think so much today is too digitized, too clean. I approach Photoshop like makeup: not too heavy, but enough to add distinction. And layer, layer, layer! Add to that a background in traditional animation (I studied a lot of Golden Age Disney, UPA & Warner Brothers at Pratt Institute) and numerous visits to the Metropolitan to gaze at classics... mix it all together, and these are the results. It took a long time to get comfortable with my style because there's a natural inclination to want to produce what is popular, but I've also found that this is what makes me unique, and have learned better to embrace it.

"The Marie Antoinette print really helped me with that. So many people responded to it, that I finally made it available as a print, and it's my best selling image. Marie Antoinette is my favorite, but so is the Empress Wu Zetian. Like many powerful female leaders, she has such a fascinating (and ruthless) story behind her rise. I am hoping to continue the portrait series of Empresses and Queens in the new year."

Susan is such a faceted, talented creative - and she's fun, too! - so  I'll be featuring more of her work on Swelle and talking to her about it.

If you can't wait - and you shouldn't! - see Susan's website Pop Fantastic which showcases her illustration and animation work. I just love her And, Darling...conversations films. Zing!

To see the range of Susan's art prints including Marie Antoinette and Empress Wu Zetian, you can visit her shop on Society 6


Marie Antoinette art print detail by Susan Canaday Henry



Empress Wu Zetian art print by Susan Canaday Henry

May 12, 2011

Fashion Illustrator Series: Interview with Bil Donovan

DiorPlay-150Bil Donovan for Christian Dior Beauty

Whether fashion is art is a perpetual topic of debate. Conversely, we'd be hardpressed to find objection to the idea that those who document fashion, in an inspired way, are indeed artists.  Fashion illustrators possess that magical combination of technical skill and provocative flair that is essential in bringing their subject to life.

Bil Donovan is one of today's most accomplished and revered fashion illustrators, and a true artist - deemed so by Christian Dior Beauty who named him their first Artist-in-Residence in 2009. Based in New York, he is also an educator, currently as Assistant Adjunct Professor at the city's prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology where he was once a student; and a fine artist working under the name William Donovan, a pursuit that allows him to engage aspects of his creativity in an expression unique to that of his fashion-focussed  illustrations.

BilDonovan In 2010 Bil published his first book, Advanced Fashion Drawing/Lifestyle Illustration through Laurence King UK. It's a beautiful textbook that "promotes the idea of observation, thinking and selectivity through a series of exercises and demonstrations that explore the concepts of line, shape and composition." For illustrators looking to broaden their perspective, this hugely inspiring and challenging book is a must-have. Bil's introduction alone is of immense value; his story will surprise you.

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Bil, my favourite fashion illustrator, about his work. I look at his pictures when I want to feel happy or elated; it's something in the combination of his precise, elegant brush strokes and how he chooses and uses colour. I'm drawn to his bright hues, though some of my favourites are mostly monochromatic - Bil is a master at summoning an exhilarating energy with his use of light and transparency and translating the space and proportion of a live event into two dimensions without compromising a shred of its vitality, even taking the beauty to a higher level. I would like to live in Bil's world.


DG: First, congratulations and big thanks for your book, a truly original and invigorating approach to fashion illustration instruction. It's hard to believe you were once told you were not a natural and that you should 'rethink your artistic pursuit.'  That professor would prove to be instrumental in shaping your path early on, when you took her advice to 'draw draw draw'.

I think you may be about to change the lives of others yourself by revealing this bit of information in your book - t’s a universal given in our minds that true creative talent is something we're born with, that comes easily. You've proven through your achievements that with insightful guidance and nurturing, anyone with the commitment to be a good illustrator can indeed be one.

Do you feel that without the specific education you received from several extraordinary individuals that you would have eventually found your way to where you are now, or was it absolutely crucial to your success?

Ink-Green BD: I believe that regardless of the degree of talent one person may possess, that individual needs to nurture, perfect and explore that ability through practice as well as understanding the fundamentals related to that field.

It is important to get a different perspective and evaluation of your work through the eyes of another and of course this would occur in a class. I know that studying with a variety of instructors sharpened my thinking and pointed me in the direction of pursuing my personal vision.

Would I have developed my eye, or draftsmanship without that experience?

Absolutely, probably through practice, but each teacher brings a distinct viewpoint and perspective to a class and those factors influenced my perception of drawing and nurtured my style.

I love the theatrics of a circle of easels occupied by artists surrounding a model perched on a model stand. Imagine this arena energized by the presence of an instructor who circles around the room pushing, encouraging, inspiring and challenging you to see, think and create work in a different light…the energy is palpable and courses through your body pulsing through your veins into your hand holding the pencil onto the paper…There is nothing like that. I’m still addicted and still take classes.

DG: The fact that you’re still taking classes will either be reassuring to young illustrators or totally intimidating! Then again, learning is a life-long process.  

Do you prefer the easel circle to the live event? Does the spontaneity of the live event force you to adapt your style?

BD: Each is unique. The studio setting is a more controlled environment and the energy is generated through the model, the instructor and of course the other artists present. If I create work alone at my studio then the energy is collaboration between the model and me.

Live events have a kinetic energy generated by the state of flux. You have no control of the surroundings and events occurring and it is great to allow that spontaneity to filter into the work. You have to be in the moment and constantly edit and adapt your process, rather than style to meet the challenge. There is no room for preciousness.
In September Ralph Rucci invited me to document his Spring 2011 collection and it was exhilarating to witness his brilliance and world; to capture that experience as models floated by in these gorgeous creations, for the press, editors, buyers and privileged guests…it was an Ahhhh moment and everyone took a pause at the beauty of his collection, they actually gasped, but I had no time or I would have missed it.
I had to let go and just trust that the essence of that moment would rise to the surface.

Chado-FashionWK09-10 At Chado Ralph Rucci, New York Fashion Week, September 2010

DG: You conveyed the structure, textures and lightness of the Chado Ralph Rucci collection beautifully. We love to look at fashion drawings and paintings; they go even further in creating that ideal world, the fantasy, and capturing the essence of a collection than the fashion show itself. They can be so enchanting.

So why isn’t illustration a more regular part of documenting fashion today, alongside the photograph? Fashion week is typically fed to us through a singular view – there’s the catwalk and the wall of photographers at the end of it snapping the models in identical poses without facial expression. We could use a more fanciful narrative!

BD: Amen! I wish I had the answer to that question. And those who are in a position to choose the editorial content and create the narrative could best answer it. The fashion world is a business, and the editorial and advertorial markets revolving around that world must promote an image that meets the demands of a particular audience in order to thrive. However, I believe that this audience is underestimated in their ability to appreciate an illustrated narrative over a photo-realistic one. It is also the responsibility of the illustrator to reinvent the genre of fashion illustration with energy and concept to seduce the eye and capture the attention of a new audience.

Pair-Suits DG: During a discussion earlier this year between Imran Amed from The Business of Fashion and Nick Knight for BoB’s series Fashion Pioneers, Nick declared, “I think photography is dead” upon reflection of the notion that as a medium it can’t evolve. He also downplayed the importance of the printed medium and claimed that ‘fashion will be shaped by the internet’, an idea which was supported by the massive public response to McQueen’s live streamed Plato’s Atlantis in 2009.

As an artist who also documents fashion and the curator of the January's exhibition Fashion Illustration: Visual Poetry, do you see a unified movement amongst fashion illustrators toward the use of specific technologies to create both the art and the means of access? How does the concept of evolution apply to the classic art form of fashion illustration, and it is imperative that the genre evolve in order to be influential in shaping fashion?

BD: All art has to evolve, high, low, commercial or fine and Fashion Illustration is no exception. Technology nurtures that evolution by providing a creative arena for exploring possibilities beyond our imagination.

We are witnessing Video, Animation, Drawing Painting, Photography, Performance and Music accompanies one another and move beyond the printed page. That’s entertainment!!!

However, I am a firm believer that your digital skills are only as effective as your traditional skills. Those with a foundation in drawing painting, composition and theory will have a competitive edge over those who to rely on the digital technology to make their work.

Anyone can scan a photo-distort-posterize and process it through a filter. But what makes it unique? Does technique dictate the work or do we dictate the technique to communicate and enhance our vision? Intuition is idiosyncratic and has as yet to be incorporated into digital technology.

Social networking has changed the landscape of how work is seen, perceived and promoted, unimaginable a decade ago.



DG: There seems to be an element of critics who dismiss beauty at its most simple and pure as fluff, as if meaningful expression can only be found in the edgy, hard, damaged, or ugly. How would you respond to that? 

BD: Work that is from the soul whether it is dark or light should never be dismissed.

My personal work is dark and my fashion work is light. It took me a long time to calibrate the two and realize that one does not invalidate or surpass the other.

Thank you, Bil. It was an honour.

Fullscreen capture 15032011 103033

RRspg-3sm For Chado Ralph Rucci, New York Fashion Week, September 2010


  VanityFair_Italia2011 For Vanity Fair Italia, 2011


For more about Bil Donovan visit his website, and if you're in New York you have a unique opportunity to see him work live:


All illustrations © Bil Donovan


PORTER Magazine issue 5 now available at NET-A-PORTER.COM

Cupcake Monday!

Interiors & Exteriors

Floral Friday

London Fashion Week

Fashion Illustrator Series

Artist Series

Paris & Cities

Painted Houses Project

Colour Colour 



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