Fashion Illustration 1900 – 1980s: London and Paris

The discussion below is edited and extended from:

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/f/fashion-drawing-in-the-20th-century/

1900s: House of Paquin

Jeanne Paquin
Jeanne Paquin

At the beginning of the century fashions continued to be corseted with an exaggerated S-shaped figure. This can be seen in the oppulent illustrations from House of Paquin.

1910s

Florrie Westwood and Madeleine Vermont
Jeanne Paquin 1911
Jeanne Paquin

A period of rapid change. Styles start to become more natural,more practical, less restrictive clothing. During the early years of the 1910s, designers adopted a new approach focussed on fluidity, and started to promote the use of lighter and softer fabrics in order to make their creations increasingly free flowing.

The biggest changes were during the First World War as women were called into factories and offices and fashionable dress was simplified and shortened.
Many now-anonymous dressmakers and designers like Florie Westwood produced clothes in towns and cities across the country.

three 'Original Designs' 1918 - 1919. The designer's own descriptions of the dresses, written next to them are: 'Left: Dress of mauve taffeta and ninon, with insertion of ivory lace. The sash is of mauve ribbon to match the dress. Centre: A simple evening frock of powder blue satin & shell pink tulle. The broad sash is pansy black ribbon with bright appliqué orange flowers. Right: Frock of ivory crepe georgette, with two deep bands of peach coloured self material. The insertion is very fine lace.'
Florrie Westwood Three ‘Original Designs’ 1918 – 1919. The designer’s own descriptions of the dresses, written next to them are: ‘Left: Dress of mauve taffeta and ninon, with insertion of ivory lace. The sash is of mauve ribbon to match the dress. Centre: A simple evening frock of powder blue satin & shell pink tulle. The broad sash is pansy black ribbon with bright appliqué orange flowers. Right: Frock of ivory crepe georgette, with two deep bands of peach coloured self material. The insertion is very fine lace.’ Florrie Westwood, fashion design, London, 1918-9. Museum no. E.1539-1977

Florrie Westwood: three afternoon dress designs drawn in pencil and colour wash. Florrie Westwood, fashion design, London, 1918. VandA Museum no. E.1536-1977

aption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”365″]Florrie Westwood, fashion design, London, 1919. Four different designs for winter coats emphasise the new fashion for the linear silhouette and ankle length designs. They also show the new shape (higher neck covering and greater shoulder coverage) of fur collars and cuffs. Vand A Museum no. E.1538-1977 Florrie Westwood, fashion design, London, 1919. Four different designs for winter coats emphasise the new fashion for the linear silhouette and ankle length designs. They also show the new shape (higher neck covering and greater shoulder coverage) of fur collars and cuffs. Vand A Museum no. E.1538-1977[/caption]

Madeleine Vermont (1897-1972), fashion design, London, 1913. Two evening dress designs in pencil showing use of flowing material to create dresses with elaborate drapes. The tunic in the right hand design is made out of pleated material.
Madeleine Vermont (1897-1972), fashion design, London, 1913. VandA. Two evening dress designs in pencil showing use of flowing material to create dresses with elaborate drapes. The tunic in the right hand design is made out of pleated material. Museum no. E.957-1977
Madeleine Vermont (1897-1972), fashion design, London, 1913. Five designs for girls costume in pencil and colour wash. children's dress changed from the waist to the hip, and dresses and skirts also became shorter (above the knee). The central figure is wearing a green coloured day dress with a pleated skirt and an elaborate belt which matches her small collar and the sleeve cuff. Also shown are two coat designs. The second figure to the left is wearing a white and red chequer short coat with Alamo buttons whereas the further figure on the right is wearing a white and navy striped coat with sailor navy collar and matching cuffs. VandA Museum no. E.954-1977
Madeleine Vermont (1897-1972), fashion design, London, 1913. Five designs for girls costume in pencil and colour wash. children’s dress changed from the waist to the hip, and dresses and skirts also became shorter (above the knee). The central figure is wearing a green coloured day dress with a pleated skirt and an elaborate belt which matches her small collar and the sleeve cuff. Also shown are two coat designs. The second figure to the left is wearing a white and red chequer short coat with Alamo buttons whereas the further figure on the right is wearing a white and navy striped coat with sailor navy collar and matching cuffs. VandA Museum no. E.954-1977

 1920s

After the war changing attitudes to women were reflected in fashion. Younger women cropped their hair and wore skirts to the knee, with simple, linear dresses that gave them a boyish silhouette.

Normal Hartnell London, 1920s. The under dress is of solid material and is covered from shoulder to hem with chiffon. The dress has a boat neck line with tight sleeves up to the elbow where they fan out with 'scollop' edging. This matches the hem of the dress.
Normal Hartnell London, 1920s. The under dress is of solid material and is covered from shoulder to hem with chiffon. The dress has a boat neck line with tight sleeves up to the elbow where they fan out with ‘scollop’ edging. This matches the hem of the dress. VAM Museum no. E.29-1943

Norman Hartnell (1901 – 79) famous for lavish and romantic evening and bridal gowns. Introduced the longer-length skirts that would mark the end of the ‘flapper’ era. He produced designs for royalty,

Hilda Steward, fashion design, London, 1923. This sleeveless evening dress appears to be made in satin with a short lace three layer overskirt hanging from the belt. The belt is slightly higher than the waist in the front and supports the overskirt only from the side to the back - leaving the front completely free. The figure is wearing a bracelet above the elbow and a large head band typical of the 1920s to hold the new short fashionable hair cut.
Hilda Steward, fashion design, London, 1923. An orange day dress with an overskirt made by two pleated panels. The figure is holding a fur wrap which looks like Sable; it matches some fur details on the dress including those on the hem. The large brim black hat has two Ostrich feathers. The belt is to be held by a gold ornament. VAM. Museum no. E.1039-1988
Hilda Steward, fashion design, London, 1920
Hilda Steward, fashion design, London, 1920. This sleeveless evening dress appears to be made in satin with a short lace three layer overskirt hanging from the belt. The belt is slightly higher than the waist in the front and supports the overskirt only from the side to the back – leaving the front completely free. The figure is wearing a bracelet above the elbow and a large head band  to hold the new short fashionable hair cut. VAM Museum no. E.1039-1988

Hilda Steward: Nothing much is known about Hilda Steward apart from her drawings. Like Florries Westwood she was another anonymous dressmakers and designers

Victor Stiebel : stylisation

 1920s
Victor Stiebel (1907-76), fashion design, London, 1928. The face of the model in this drawing, with the heavily emphasised eyes, follows the tradition established by silent-screen star Theda Bara, who popularised the word 'vamp' (a contraction of vampire, which she played in one of her films) to mean a predatory female, whose heavily khol-encircled eyes were her most memorable feature. VAM Museum no. S.545-1983
Victor Stiebel (1907-76), drawing, London, 1928. This is a highly sensual image of intention and hidden delights:  heavily emphasised ‘vamp’ eye and blood red lips, emphasised by the combination of hair and neckband. The bare left shoulder is balanced by the weight of the hair being also on the left, while the bare shoulder and leg, at once revealed and concealed by the fabric strips. VAM Museum no. S.545-1983
Victor Stiebel (1907-73), fashion design, England, about 1927. Evening gown in black and silver with an appliqué or embroidered snaked coiled round it from an uneven hem to bodice.The inside of the dress is lined in green - this contrasts the black exterior. The dress has a square neck line with large shoulder straps. The model is wearing a pearl chocker with matching earrings and bracelet. The short bob hair cut with a fringe was typical of this era. VAM Museum no. E.1077-1983
Victor Stiebel (1907-73), fashion design, England, about 1927. Evening gown in black and silver with an appliqué or embroidered snaked coiled round it from an uneven hem to bodice.The inside of the dress is lined in green – this contrasts the black exterior. The dress has a square neck line with large shoulder straps. The model is wearing a pearl chocker with matching earrings and bracelet. The short bob hair cut with a fringe was typical of this era. VAM Museum no. E.1077-1983

1930s

Following the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, new, more down-to-earth attitudes forced on the world offered great scope for a new simplicity, as encapsulated by Coco Chanel (1883–1971). In Britain, fashion became more eclectic but also more feminine and graceful and, by 1930, the ‘boyish’ look had disappeared.

Victor Stiebel
Victor Stiebel, London, 1933.The dress was the height of chic, with its huge pleated shoulders, bold bow, nipped in jacket and long skirt. The gauntlet gloves helped balance the wide shoulders, while the large bow drew attention to the face. Designed for leading actresses. VAM Museum no. S.544-1983
Victor Stiebel, London, 1933.The dress was the height of chic, with its huge pleated shoulders, bold bow, nipped in jacket and long skirt. The gauntlet gloves helped balance the wide shoulders, while the large bow drew attention to the face. Designed for leading actresses. VAM Museum no. S.544-1983
Victor Stiebel (1907-76), fashion design, London, 1934. The flared lower skirt of this blue dress is an example of the new cut characterised by its simplicity. Stiebel introduced a collar with a bow and tall cuffs all designed with multi-coloured ribbon to break the monotony. VAM Museum no. E.1075-1983.
Victor Stiebel (1907-76), fashion design, London, 1934. The flared lower skirt of this blue dress is an example of the new cut characterised by its simplicity. Stiebel introduced a collar with a bow and tall cuffs all designed with multi-coloured ribbon to break the monotony. VAM Museum no. E.1075-1983.
In the 1930s it became fashionable to wear 'house pyjamas' – trousers with large bottoms made in a soft material. These are intended for more formal occasions from house cocktails to cruise parties. Stiebel's design includes halter neck, sleeveless top, bright orange gloves, a brim hat and matching shoes contrasts the large bottom black trousers
Victor Stiebel (1907-76), fashion design, London, 1934-5 In the 1930s it became fashionable to wear ‘house pyjamas’ – trousers with large bottoms made in a soft material. These are intended for more formal occasions from house cocktails to cruise parties. Stiebel’s design includes halter neck, sleeveless top, bright orange gloves, a brim hat and matching shoes contrasts the large bottom black trousers. VAM Museum no. E.1074-1983

 1940s

World War II had a profound effect on fashion and it became regulated, militarised and framed by government decrees. But after the war, even under rationing new designs

The New Look: Christian Dior

‘I designed clothes for flower-like women, with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts, and hand-span waists above enormous spreading skirts.’ Christian Dior (1905 – 57), describing the impact of his first collection in the Spring of 1947. Dior introduced hourglass silhouettes and luxurious fabrics, softening previously boxy shoulder pads and cinching the waist for a pronounced feminine look. 

Key designers were: Marjorie Field, Renee Gruau and Bernard Blossac.

Bernard Blossac

My favourites are the dynamic pencil and watercolour designs of Blossac.  Bernard Blossac (1917-2001) was stationed in Paris during the German occupation. He regularly drew for Vogue, L’Officiel and Harper’s Bazaar. But little is known about his life.

 Bernard Blossac (1917-2001), fashion illustration, Paris or London, late 1940s. Museum no. E.167-1987Bernard Blossac (1917 - 2001). Blossac was a fashion illustrator, who regularly drew for Vogue, L'Officiel and Harper's Bazaar. This drawing depicts a black bolero with a floral pattern in the 'New Look' style.
Bernard Blossac (1917-2001), fashion illustration, Paris or London, late 1940s. Museum no. E.167-1987.This drawing depicts a black bolero with a floral pattern in the ‘New Look’ style.

Bernard Blossac was stationed in Paris during the German occupation.

For more Blossac designs see:

Five Feet Tall blogsite and Pinterest site 

Renee Gruau

For discussions of influence of Japanese calligraphy and abstract art on fashion design of Gruau see:

Shufa and the fashion illustration_part III: René Gruau

FABULOUS FASHION ILLUSTRATORS RENE GRUAU

Fashion design, by Ursula Sternberg-Hertz, London, about 1947. Museum no. E.844-1989
Fashion design, by painter Ursula Sternberg-Hertz, London, about 1947. Museum no. E.844-1989

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.

Sigrid Hunt

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.

Sigrid Hunt, pencil sketch, Britain, 1954. Museum no. E.687-1986
Sigrid Hunt, pencil sketch, Britain, 1954. Museum no. E.687-1986
Front cover of Tatler, featuring design by Sigrid Hunt, 5 May 1954. Museum no. E.684-1986
Front cover of Tatler, featuring design by Sigrid Hunt, 5 May 1954. Museum no. E.684-1986
Sigrid Hunt, colour design, Britain, 1954. Museum no. E.685-1986
Sigrid Hunt, colour design, Britain, 1954. Museum no. E.685-1986
Jean Demarchy

Jean Demarchy (dates unknown) was a 1950s fashion illustrator who worked in soft pastels to create romantic, abstract, images of couture.

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) Jean Demarchy, fashion illustration, Paris or London, about 1955. Museum no. E.685-1997
1) Jean Demarchy, fashion illustration, Paris or London, about 1955. Museum no. E.685-1997
2) Jean Demarchy, fashion illustration, London, 1953. Museum no. E.686-1997
2) Jean Demarchy, fashion illustration, London, 1953. Museum no. E.686-1997

1960s

The ‘Swinging Sixties’ saw the emergence of a new youth market.  The mini-skirt was introduced by Mary Quant in the late 1960s and continued for quite a while after this. London – not Paris – was leading fashion.

Mary Quant

Mary Quant (born Wales 1934) gained a diploma in Art Education from Goldsmith’s College, London. She devised eye-catching window displays to attract customers. Her low-priced clothes were made up of simple shapes combined with strong colours like scarlet, prune and green. Famed for popularising the mini skirt, in 1966 Quant was awarded an OBE. In the early 1960s her designs were bought by the chain store J.C. Penney to be mass produced for the American market. The Quant label began to appear worldwide on accessories and make-up.

1) Mary Quant (b.1934), fashion design, London, mid 1960s. Museum no. E.520-1975
1) Mary Quant (b.1934), fashion design, London, mid 1960s. Museum no. E.520-1975. This design has a liberty bodice, long narrow sleeves and a front vertical zip. The skirt is very short and trimmed on the edge with a yellow colour. The same colour tights are worn. There is a small baby collar and a very narrow belt with a front buckle.
Mary Quant (b.1934), fashion design, London, mid 1960s. Museum no. E.525-1975. This bold design for a putty aubergine mini dress is made with a small liberty bodice with a full mini skirt attached to it. The top of the dress has a cow neck in yellow material inside and on the outside is beige with yellow.There is a matching head scarf, belt and cuffs.
Mary Quant (b.1934), fashion design, London, mid 1960s. Museum no. E.523-1975. Mary Quant decided to ignore the waist and added a very short frill skirt attached to the body of the dress creating the ‘mini’ effect. The sleeves are very short and bounded by glace kid red leather. The main dress is made out of pink Jersey wool.The collar and the front slit are all bounded by the same glace kid leather as the sleeves, the leather has brass eyelets to enable the threading of shoe lace type ribbon.

1970s

The 1970s saw the evolution of fashion into a proclamation of individuality. Fashion increasingly became the concern of men as well as women.

John Bates

A prolific and innovative designer, John Bates (b.1938) often incorporated metallic, plastic and transparent fabrics in his creations. He is perhaps best remembered as the designer of Diana Rigg’s wardrobe for the television series The Avengers in 1965.

John Bates (b.1938), fashion design, London, 1978. Museum no. E.570-1975 This dress in silk is an interesting design with square shoulders and blouson body and an intricate cut full skirt. There is a tie belt around the waist and the sleeves have flare cuffs similar to the high collar.
John Bates (b.1938), fashion design, London, 1974. Museum no. E.569-1975. This design is for a long printed Kaftan with an undulated bottom. The sides are finished with tassels. The print is particularly beautiful and individual you can see the detail of stylised flowers and birds. This is complemented by edge stitching around the Kaftan. The exotic element to this design makes it particularly striking.
Zandra Rhodes

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Zandra Rhodes (b.1940) became famous for her prints on chiffon, and her use of flamboyant, bright colours. Her designs were considered too extravagant by British manufacturers and she set up her own retail outlet on Fulham Road, London, in 1969. Rhodes’ extravagant appearance and style often attracted considerable publicity. She is credited with having introduced Punk fashions to the fashion industry with her 1977 collection entitled Punk Chic.

Zandra Rhodes (b.1940), design for a fur coat, London, 1970s. Museum no. C.282-1974
Zandra Rhodes (b.1940), design for a fur coat, London, 1970s. Museum no. C.282-1974
Zandra Rhodes (b.1940), design for a fur coat, London, 1970s. Museum no. C.286-1974.
Zandra Rhodes (b.1940), design for a fur coat, London, 1970s. Museum no. C.286-1974.
Bill Gibb

Bill Gibb (1943–88) was a fashion designer whose creations defined the 1970s look. He opened his boutique Alice Paul in Kensington in 1967 and first designed for the youth market, with clean lines that bore the imprint of contemporary trends. In the 1970s, his style developed along eclectic and romantic lines inspired by the hippie scene and by medieval and pre-Raphaelite painting. His romantic aesthetic was less successful during the 1980s and he presented his last full collection in 1985.

Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1970. Museum no. E.123-1978
Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1970. Museum no. E.123-1978 This is a fashion design for a long pleated skirt, long-sleeved blouse, laced jerkin and cloche hat, with two fabric samples attached. This design featured in Vogue in 1970, and the Sunday Times amongst other magazines. This design shows how different wool fabrics are used with contrast colour and pattern.
 Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1976. Museum no. E.127-1978
Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1976. Museum no. E.127-1978 Jacket design with beret.
Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1976. Museum no. E.128-1978.This is a design for a printed leather and suede pattern jacket with a hood. The Patterns seem influenced by ethnic designs. Other designs in the later 70s started to use a mixture of different fabrics and colour, for example leather with chiffon) This design is a good example of how leather was processed in a more fashionable and colourful way during this period.
Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1986. Museum no. E.522-1993
Bill Gibb (1943-88), fashion design, London, 1986. Museum no. E.522-1993
Bill Gibb (1943-88), costume design, London, 1986. Museum no. E.523-1993
Bill Gibb (1943-88), costume design, London, 1986. Museum no. E.523-1993. Design for the pop star Lynsey de Paul, for her performance at the Royal Variety Show, 1986. It is executed in colour wash, black ink and felt tip pen.

1980s

The increasing profile of women in the work place required a new fashion aesthetic, and the decade witnessed the emergence of ‘Power Dressing’. Wide, padded shoulders became fashionable and women’s clothes were inspired by masculine fashion and tailoring traditions. The period also saw the display of lavish evening wear, as exemplified by the opulent dresses of Oscar de la Renta.

Antoni & Alison

The London based fashion design duo, Antoni & Alison, are Antoni Burakowski and Alison Roberts. They met in 1982 when studying fashion at St Martin’s college. They are known for their eclectic and playful designs, including ranges of slogan and vacuum packed T-shirts.

Antoni & Alison, fashion design, London, late 1980s. Museum no. E.679.2-1997
Antoni & Alison, fashion design, London, late 1980s. Museum no. E.679.2-1997
Antoni & Alison, fashion design, London, late 1980s. Museum no. E.680.2-1997
Antoni & Alison, fashion design, London, late 1980s. Museum no. E.680.2-1997
Antoni & Alison, fashion design, London, late 1980s. Museum no. E.679.2-1997
Antoni & Alison, fashion design, London, late 1980s. Museum no. E.679.2-1997
Manolo Blahnik

Manolo Blahnik (b. 1942) is one of the most prominent and successful shoe designers of his age. His creations were famously immortalised in episodes of Sex and the City, and his name is now synonymous with luxurious and exquisitely designed shoes. He was awarded an honorary title of Commander of the British Empire in the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours List, for services to the British fashion industry.

These designs are for ladies shoes, for possible production by Zapata Shoes Ltd, London, 1980.

Manolo Blahnik (b.1942), design for a shoe, Britain, 1980. Museum no. E.1334-1979
Manolo Blahnik (b.1942), design for a shoe, Britain, 1980. Museum no. E.1334-1979

Manolo Blahnik (b.1942), design for a shoe, Britain, 1980. Museum no. E.1331-1979

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