100 years of Fashion Illustration by Cally Blackman

100 Years of Fashion Illustration is a new book, published by Laurence King Publishing written by Cally Blackman. It is a fantastic reference for any vintage fashion fan, sharing 400 illustrations from the Edwardian era through to the noughties which highlight to the reader how fashions have changed over 100 years.

100 years of Fashion Illustration by Cally Blackman

We are used to seeing fashion photography, but what the author shares is that illustration shows us so much more. Yes photography captures the moment and shows us exactly what the item and the model look like, but illustrations give us so much more. A photographer can only show us what he can see. But an illustration shows us what the designer wanted us to see. They can highlight something that they want us to notice, and exaggerate it if needed to emphasise it.

The book starts in the Edwardian period with long dresses and billowy long coats. It takes us quite quickly to the golden age of fashion illustration; the 1920s with all its Art Deco influence. The Vogue covers of the time are iconic as are some of the adverts that are shown in the book.

The 1930s shares women and men’s fashion, in particular the popular new leisure wear and beach wear. Think sailor influences and a Riviera look.

The 1940s show us utility fashion and how illustration was used in propaganda posters.

In the late 1940s , when Christian Dior designed his New Look collection fashion changed. Full skirts using so much more fabric became popular into the 1950s with the fashion set; the illustrations become slightly more romantic with a brush stroke background. I want them all!

The 1960s is my favourite decade of the 20th century and this chapter does not disappoint. Fashion illustration became less popular at this time, as photographers became idols themselves; remember photos of Twiggy rather than drawings. I love the fun look of this era shown here.

The 1970s long maxi dresses and slight cartoon feel to the drawings is something of beauty. I’d love this artwork on my wall!

Fashion illustration became popular again in the 1980s as the artist is able to accentuate shoulder pads and nipped in waists; something that a photographer would find hard, relying on a stylist to over style.

Then there is the 1990s with its graphic novel feel reminding me of Supergrass album covers and Gorilla artwork. The pink lady reminds me of Deee-Light!

I would highly recommend this book to all vintage fashion fans, indeed to all fashion fans. It costs £12.99 and is a fab size book too.

Thank you to Laurence King Publishing for my copy.

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