Fashion Drawing & Illustrationn: 1950s
Often associated with the rise of youthful, ready-to-wear fashions, the fifties were nevertheless a prolific and successful decade for the fashion 'establishment' as embodied by couture houses and traditional dressmakers. Fashion illustration continued to flourish in the plethora of magazines published at the time.
This collection of sketches are by Marcel Fromenti (1886–1969) and were created using pen and ink, wash and Chinese white. Fromenti was a well known illustrator, especially during the 1950s, when he attended the couture collections to sketch the latest designs for The Lady magazine. Each drawing is inscribed with the designer's name with descriptions in French, and most are dated at the back.
The Lady, unlike magazines such as Vogue or Vanity Fair, was small rather than glossy. It mainly concentrated on publicising day dresses which would have been more suitable in style for the majority of women of the time. Its engaging style that explained in simple terms the fashion developments of the day contributed greatly to its popularity.
Sigrid Hunt (later Roesen) was a fashion illustrator and editor. She came to England from Berlin in the early 1930s and worked for prestigious publications including Vogue, Tatler, and The Sketch. From the late 1950s to 1971 she worked in Germany for the Sudkurrier Welt der Frau and Die Mode.
The various preparatory phases shown for the Tatler front cover of 5 May 1954 here illustrated are a good example of the process and various stages of magazine illustration.
Jean Demarchy (dates unknown) was a 1950s fashion illustrator who worked in soft pastels to create romantic, abstract, images of couture. Arguably, illustrations such as these fitted better with the luxurious and feminine ideal of couture than photography. These illustrations, especially from the Stiebel collection of 1953, display some of those shared aesthetics in the way they convey the soft, tactile nature of the fabrics.
However, the privileged status of fashion drawing faded rapidly during the 1950s, and photography soon gained more prominence in post-war magazines that wanted harder-hitting imagery.
1) This image was drawn for Harper's Bazaar around 1955. It shows a glamorous evening dress by Christian Dior (1905–57), featuring a full skirt and elaborate bustle bow.
2) This illustration features an evening dress by the London couturier Victor Stiebel (1907-76), drawn for Harper's Bazaar in 1953. Stiebel liked using bold, contrasting stripes in his designs, and also typically referenced historical dress with voluminous panniers and bustles.