I went into this New York Fashion Week with such certainty that this season was My Season! I had two gigs lined up for Well Known Clients. Knowing that I was going into this fashion week being paid for a change, I was feeling cocky.
Then in a twist that should not have surprised me at all, both jobs fell through. Not because I Suck and No One Wants Me (although that’s what it felt like at the time), but just because flaking out during fashion week is as basic as black. A huge part of my job is processing disappointment when projects don’t work out. And I guess I go into every fashion week with high hopes, it’s all part of psyching myself up for the massive outlay of energy and cash it takes to get me there, so I was crushed. Usually I cry after fashion week – this time I cried before. Which completely skewed the mood of the whole endeavour.
In any case, the shows were happening and I was there anyway, so I threw out a bunch of last minute requests and got on with it.
BCBGMAXAZRIA was the first show and I was watercolour-ready, but the house lights never went up. So I sketched it on the iPad using Paper – really the perfect solution for live-sketching low-light situations. The mood was Lana Del Rey dusty rose, with fluttering ruffles.
The first show I watercoloured was Meden. Very clean lines of a blue-lined white coat presented an ideal sketch opportunity.
I decided that this season was going to be a bit more about selecting subjects based on the composition they provided – not every look is equal when it comes to illustration.
The other thing I wanted to attempt was to recapture some of the accident and awkwardness of my earlier portfolios. I also tried to play with the scale, doing more “beauty” illustrations focusing on the models faces. This one at Costello Tagliapietra pleases me even though it’s overworked. That show was an oasis on a brutally hot day. I had never successfully gotten into a show at MADE before, and the angels at People’s Revolution made it happen. The inside of Milk Studios was cool and the air was scented with something sweet and comforting. It gave me some hope back.
There was a kimono effect to the sleeves at TOME, and bright pinks.
The hair at Carmen Marc Valvo was captivating for me – a low, braided side bun with a sweeping bang across the other side – it looked great from both sides.
The gorgeous feminine dresses at Carmen Marc Valvo just cried out for a Rene Gruau style flourish. I feel like this was the single most successful sketch of the season.
I did a bit of backstage sketching at Misha Nonoo who very kindly offered me access – though grabbing drawings backstage is not easy. This model had a piquant, distinctive profile. I met my friend Odessa at that show and she very kindly shared her seat assignment (lucky BB1!) with me. However, it was bench seating and someone squeezed in on my right which meant I couldn’t quite achieve the freedom of movement required for successful runway sketches. It’s too bad because I liked the collection and they had been so sweet about access.
My luck changed that afternoon at William Okpo – it took place in a gymnasium, and there was more than enough elbow room in a pit party that consisted of one photographer, one videographer, and me. The clothes were also brilliantly brief and styled with amazing hair.
Most of the models had darker skintones with white eye makeup which allowed me the opportunity to try a new way of rendering skin tone that worked out GREAT. This show was such a delight to sketch, it was the highlight of my fashion week.
I had a fan in the crowd of Nicole Miller who helped me get a place to sketch, little acts of kindness mean so much. I could only see the top half of the outfits so that’s what I drew.
These two sketches both captured Nicole Miller show very well. At this point in the week I felt I had found my groove.
Son Jung Wan had a lot of sparkles – and I had a sparkly pen – unfortunately sparkles don’t scan well.
I had started to look at the negative space around the models more, especially when the models and their clothes are white.
Luis Antonio I had no seat, so I sketched with Paper again. The prints looked like pen scribbles, so it was the better choice of media.
Figuring out how to use the smudge feature judiciously… it’s something that requires a lighter touch.
I had been invited by Brandon Graham of Would You Rock This? to attend an unusual event. CZAR by Cesar Galindo was doing a presentation where about a dozen fashion illustrators would be stationed around the models, sketching.
At first, I was unsure I wanted to be in a situation where I was surrounded by others doing the same thing. I’m not a joiner by nature, and the trendiness of live runway sketching gives me mixed feelings. But of course I was curious to see what it was like and see the other illustrators – a mix of young guns I’ve seen at shows before and some older pros. One of the older illustrators told me it was her first fashion show.
I had much more time to play around and this negative space sketch I think turned out pretty well.
I also did a much bigger beauty sketch for a change.
It was an interesting experience to be among so many other artists. They were all great, inspiring with different visions of the same show. But I don’t think I’ll ever do a scene like that again.
I did this one at Nanette Lepore. By this time I had lost my groove somewhat and struggled to keep my spirits in the game. I was beginning to lose faith. I still managed to pull out a few decent sketches, but I can see the loss of urgency cast a shadow over the second half of the portfolio.
Another negative space sketch at Taoray Wang captured the feathery outline of the skirt.
Standing at Karen Walker I got my best Paper sketches of the season. Even though I was feeling distracted and antsy – I was dealing with an unexpected personal issue unrelated to fashion – maybe the distraction helped in that situation. Certainly the high quality of the show helped. I liked the swoopy height of the hair and the seventies shapes and colours.
The only bigger show I got a ticket for was the Diesel Black Gold show. It was at a huge venue and the street style scene outside the show was the best and craziest one I had seen all season. I like crazy street style scenes, they really separate the snobs from the lovers. I met a fellow outside the show who knew Kenneth Paul Block and Joe Eula so I asked him a million questions.
I managed one good sketch at Diesel Black Gold, and luckily that was the moment when someone at WGSN snapped a picture of me looking very exhausted, doing the drawing. It was a perfect little red and gold dress, I used a gold pen on it, and it made a mess of my hand luckily not the artwork.
My last show worth mentioning was Skingraft, which I had nailed last season. I was feeling good about it, I got my lucky seat assignment BB1. I asked the girl sitting at the end of the bench if I could sit where she was so I could place my sketches on the floor when I was done. She gave me the most evil cut-eye I’ve ever gotten at fashion week, but she moved anyway. Later I peeked at her phone and she was texting that she was going to punch someone (me??) so I was a bit worried and tried to give her as much space as possible by positioning myself at the very edge of the bench. At the last second before the show the PR wedged a very skinny girl in the toxic space between me and my arch-enemy and I popped off the bench on to the floor with some relief.
In my floorbound condition, I felt a bit safer and the sketches turned out well, although some got ruined by sticking to each other, these three survived.
And that was it, although there was one more show it was so dreadfully boring and I was so poorly located I didn’t even bother drawing it. It was a discouraging season with an uneven portfolio, which I’ve had before, but this one really left me hungry for something else. It seems like runway sketching is a useful skill I’ve acquired, but the opportunities to do something amazing with it appear to be declining as the competition increases. The best drawings that I did in New York were not part of my runway portfolio – they were of friends who inspire me with their style and personality. I believe that indicates what’s next for me.