admiration and inspiration

There are so many fashion illustrators out there, a few whose work influences my own practice. Surprisingly, I have never posted about this, so I thought I would fix that omission by showing some work by illustrators I admire and reveal some of the names behind the drawings, since many fashion illustrators are not credited and virtually impossible to learn about online. Click on the pictures if you want to see a bigger view.

M.A.C. face chart

While I was at fashion week in New York, the display at the M.A.C. Cosmetics booth featured incredibly lively, gorgeous watercolours which the staff there called face charts. Far from the characterless face drawings that makeup artists plot their ideas on, these things were stunning to look at in addition to conveying the what colours and combinations go on models’ faces. These paintings were done by an artist named Amelie Hegardt. She was not credited – I had to get the staff to make a call to find out who she was. This is the type of thing that I admire but struggle to aspire to – watercolours and painting in general has never come naturally to me, and that light touch that Hegardt shows here is the essence of what makes watercolours such a challenge – space and restraint form the image as much as the brush and pigment does.

antonio lopez

Back in his day, Antonio Lopez was far from obscure – in fact he was on a first name basis with the fashion industry. But now his work is not often referenced, despite the fact that for a few decades he was basically the only working fashion illustrator there was. Once colour photography and glossy full-colour printing came literally into Vogue in the 1960s and 70s, illustration was deemed yesterday’s news and photography dominated the fashionable press. They say there is always room for great talent and Antonio stayed in business because he was the best. In a field where styles get dated quickly, Antonio adapted and updated his work through three decades and stayed in print. His drawings, done from life, are incredibly facile and lively with an attention to anatomy that is rare in fashion illustration. There is no decent website for Antonio fans out there – Antonios People, and I was able to find this image scanned from the book via The Fashion Spot. One image hardly suffices to show all that is Antonio – I highly recommend tracking down the book if you are interested in fashion’s most prolific illustrator.

david downton

David Downton is in my opinion the world’s greatest living fashion illustrator. I can only dream of achieving his great skill at making gorgeous images, and dream I do! As you can see from this pencil sketch he achieves a lot with partiality and space as well as stunning line work, and his images on occasion evoke modern fashion illustration’s greatest, Rene Gruau. One thing that gives me heart in this sketch is the hand where you can see an erasure… it is a relief to see a second thought within a virtuouso performance. Downton works from life, and has sketched many of fashion’s most beautiful faces, most notably his friend and collaborator Erin O’Connor. His great attention to character and accurate anatomy is what I admire most about his work.

Mary Helen by Renaldo Barnette

My friend Mary Helen is working in New York City, and one day she posted this little drawing as her Facebook profile picture. Not only was it recognizable as a brief portrait of her, but I instantly recognized the style – it belongs to a designer named Renaldo Barnette. Mary Helen was surprised that I knew who did the drawing… because Renaldo Barnette is not famous! In fact, this post will make the first site on the internet that shows his work. Barnette, who designs at the upscale ladieswear label where Mary Helen assists, gave me permission to post this, so I am glad I can offer a little internet notoriety to someone who deserves to be known.

I discovered Barnette in Linda Tain’s book Portfolio Presentation for Fashion Designers, where examples from his portfolio leaped out of the full colour insert. Barnette considers himself a designer first, who happens to be a quick draw. Though I see myself as an illustrator first and a reluctant designer, his work compels me because it is not only beautiful and quick, it functions as a fashion illustration should – showing a sense of style, and also describes clothing and ideas with technical detail. While Barnette is the illustrator’s designer, and I find my own position as a designer’s illustrator, the essence of what we do is the same – communicating clothing designs with drawings that also stand on their own merit as fashion illustration.

designs by Renaldo Barnette

These last two images are a few designs that Barnette offered to allow me to show you, as an example of what he does best. His strength as a designer is ideas and details that are wearable and also clever; and as a renderer he shows his abilities with the art marker. This image seems to be only lightly colour corrected – all four figures were drawn directly on one page, using a media that allows no second chances. These pages seems effortless, as if the designer was just carelessly jotting down his ideas.

designs by Renaldo Barnette

What fashion illustrators do you admire?

Lena Love from Life

I went to Dr. Sketchy’s tonight. I tried to cajole various others to come with me, to no avail, so I went alone among the sketchy strangers.

I am finding a fresh fascination in drawing from life since my attempts in New York. It is fun, it is fast, and it fine tunes the skills. I enjoyed this session very much and hope to find the time to try other opportunities for life drawing whenever they come up. If anyone wants to come with, I would love the company – let me know.

Lena Love is a Queen of Clubs who possesses that blend of confidence and exhibitionism that makes great models so fun to draw.

lena love

lena lovelena love

lena love

the late review – Fashion Babylon

The late review comes after I read a book long after everyone else has read it, and I write a small review. This time Anita from I want – I got lent me the book.

Fashion Babylon, by Imogen Edwards Jones is glorious ball of fashion myth and trash talk, and it is all extra true.

Featuring much improbable innuendo that confirms fashion’s terrible reputation, this piece of fiction is told with that breathtaking, casual hyperbole that all of us fashion people are experts at.

Someone not familiar with the industry might be wondering if we are all like this. The answer is that our quirks vary in detail, but on average, yes we are like this.

The main character somehow manages to be the sum of the worst traits of designers in general. Many of the good traits of designers that I know of did not make it into this book.

There is a lack of empathy for either the characters or even fashion itself. It may be that the anonymous narrator is more self-deprecating than objective; or because good traits are too old fashioned for modern chick lit.

That is it for the late review… stay tuned for a later review of The Collection by Gioia Diliberto, that will be posted after I have read it.

tab party

tab party

Reviewing some of my favourite fashion copy cliches reminded my of that one time… back when we had the TAB party.

One of the privileges and pitfalls of being a fashion blogger is the PR pitches. Most are spam, but some incite genuine curiousity… as Chanel reminds us, never be too quick to delete… sometimes it really is good enough to be true. Or, as the TAB party taught us… well, what did we learn here?

Anita got the email from TAB saying that if we had a TAB party and posted it, we could win a trip to New York. So Carolyn, Anita and I agreed that we would party together, TAB style. See how blogging makes you the tool of corporate America?

Besides the fact that the drink itself is a vile, artificially sweetened artificially pink jolt of mystery herb and caffeine, the “TAB party” kit was an array of branded bits of plastic and parlor games with a sinister subtext. The line that sets the tone for the material we were supposed to have fun with can be seen on the top left corner of the magnetized frame around my face –

Fake is for last night, not handbags.”

The quote on the right says –

“If it doesn’t fit, it was ugly anyway.”

What is the message here? “I try on ugly clothes that don’t fit me, I’m sexually unfulfilled and conspicuously consuming, at least I have my fuel to be fabulous?” This is a drink for unhappy people. Thank you Coca-Cola.

We didn’t even finish the first can the aftertaste of the message was so bad. So we uncorked the real fuel for fabulousity… of the alcoholic variety. And I thought I had seen the worst ever example of female-focused ad copy.

That was until I got the gift bag from Chick Advisor’s Shop Crawl, which was a really awesome event. They had lots of cool sponsors like Kiehl’s. The gift bag had a cute bar of soap called Transition Man for literally washing that man out of your life. I thought that seemed okay, Transition Man didn’t take itself too seriously. Good gift for the recently broke up, maybe.

But the product copy that matches the TAB party favours in terms of contempt for customers is Sunsilk ThermaShine, which asks on its bottles –

“Hair Duller Than Your Last Date?”


I just want to ask that shampoo who it thinks it is talking to. I have not tried the shampoo yet. Somehow I think it would make me feel dirtier instead of cleaner.

They tried to send me to Hairapy, I said no, no no.

Does attempting to make people feel bad about themselves and their lives really sell more stuff? Did I just sell out by writing about it?


carelessly calculated clicking

When I am not posting here, or here, or here, I keep myself occupied. Between serving my clients and formalizing my business, there is always something to do to keep myself supplied with fresh pencils. Sometimes it gets a little quiet here on Final Fashion – but of course there is only a kajillion other things on the internet to keep you occupied. Here is a few of my picks –

  • Chanel loves Fashion Bloggers! A few of our star bloggers get the trip of a lifetime and spread it all over the internet for our enjoyment (and I will admit a little envy)… featuring style blog sweetheart Susie Bubble, stellar Canadian representative Fashion Verbatim, and the ultimate cool kid Fashion Addict Diary.
  • Everyone is asking, what is the deal with Marc Jacobs? The bi-yearly brouhaha that attends every eponymous show by America’s most controversial designer is predictably tearing apart the fashion media factions. I still have not looked at the whole collection, I have six months to register the merits of the designs alone. It is hard to look at these clothes without a shade of bias, I find it hard to respect a designer who can not accept criticism. As for the recurrent conversation, I shared my views at Deeply Superficial
    • I feel like Jacobs is one of those fashion students who make such an ostentatious deal of “I was up all night in the lab waaa” and whose ambitions to put out how many collections – like 5? – are just too grand to fully execute in six months. The telling thing is if these big plans pay off with a collection of quality (debatable) or a collection that sells (probably). I have a grudging respect for Jacobs, but often I have an uneasy feeling that the “concepts”, the lateness, the ambition, are all carelessly calculated but audacious enough to be mistaken for genius.
  • Daniel from Ujeans is doing a series at Fashion-Incubator about his countdown to the Pool trade show. This is a sweet little peek for me – Daniel is a local designer-done-good whose custom denim is one of the few apparel items I actually have felt desire for. His posts reference one of Miracle’s excellent pieces of advice -how to avoid Microsofting your Product. I love this, it reminds me of one of my major pet peeves when it comes to the promotional copy I read in PR releases and designers websites all the time – cliches. If you use anything similar to the following terms, culled from actual press releases (often fractions of epic sentences), I am anything but impressed…
    • For the women who likes a little edge with their stylish upscale sensibility
    • Fashion-forward, smartly tailored, highly individual, and very flirtatious.
    • presenting the idea of true luxury as ease, simplicity with a bit decadence in fluid shapes and rich, floating fabrics
    • effortless clothes for the chic modern woman
    • from the colonials to industrial lofts, they remain classy and fabulous, striding over cobblestones in three to four-inch heels
  • Do you see the connection? Somehow these terms always seem like TMI even while they do not really manage to convey any original thought. (Except for that one so-bad-it-is-good example.)   Cliches of any kind are bad enough, but fashion cliches are so pervasive, they manage to be both amusing and egregious. To those who wish to send me their adjective heavy releases – please consider just showing me the clothes. I will decide what sort of words I think best describes what you have done… because that is what I do. What ridiculous fashion copy can you recall?
  • Finally, fashion blog karma for my notable incoming linkers. Long-time reader and fellow ex-fashion student Jill has finally bit the bullet and started blogging at Inside my Sewing Box. Plus a new item to file under Canadian Fashion Blogs… Calgary Fashion.

final food

Though I never thought I would start another blog, lately I have been feeling the impulse to blog about things that do not really fit on Final Fashion.

So I have started Final Food. Not exactly looking to create a lifestyle empire, but those who know me well are aware that I have developed a fascination with food that balances my love of fashion.

Final Fashion has changed over the past couple years from a more personal blog to a blog that focuses on my professional interests, and I find that I miss being able to post more general things, and feel like they are not a great fit for a fashion blog.

I am not promising that Final Food will be as frequently updated as this site, but for those of you who like to eat, you may enjoy occasional posts on food, and those of you who know me personally may appreciate my odd thoughts about life in general.

the contestants

Now we know who is in (for now) on Project Runway Canada.

Project Runway Canada

I was surprised to see that I only know one of the designers in person, Lucian Matis who I met recently at the Fashion and Design Festival. There are some other recognizable names in there. I googled the Toronto contingent (well represented at 5 out of 12) and posted the who’s who on blogTO.

The show starts on Oct. 8th. I want to find a bar that will host us on Monday nights so Toronto fashion bloggers and other Project Runway Canada fans can watch the show together. Any suggestions?

Edit – Joelle from Mad Glam is also on the show!

NY redux

My final day in New York felt a bit subdued due to a sense of weariness and a sense of anticipation for my return to Toronto. Yes, I missed home. While I did not get the chance to meet Renaldo Barnette as I had hoped (they are gearing up for market week and it is a busy time for him), I did get the chance to see Julie of Almost Girl after all. Even though we were both feeling a bit off, it was great to see her again, and we dropped in on Luca Luca together. Thanks again to Julie, who despite being very busy and dealing with health issues, helped me get in to see shows.

As I mentioned, I did a few sketches on my knee at several shows – probably about 30 figures in total. The early ones at each show are a bit stiff and hesitant, but my hand warms up fairly quickly and I managed to get a few figures that I thought were worth showing without further development. They were done in the time it takes for a model to walk to the end of a runway and back. It was very good practice, and I must say it was a thrill to have the chance to draw world class models from life.

In chronological order…

Jeremy Laing

Jeremy Laing

Twinkle by WenlanTwinkle by Wenlan

Reem Acra

Reem Acra
photo credit New York Magazine.