Long before the advent of photography, fashion illustration was the dominant mode for circulating fashion news. Beginning in the 17th century with small volumes of fashion plates, and escalating in the 18th century with the establishment of the first dedicated fashion magazines, talented artists and engravers produced ‘street style’ prints that were ‘drawn from life’ for a wide and international readership.
Establishing a format that dominated for the next 100 years, the fashion plate was a valuable source of information on the latest styles and finest fashion houses up until the first quarter of the twentieth century.
Cementing an alliance between fashion and art, the 1910s and 1920s saw a proliferation of luxury publications and the legitimisation of the role of fashion illustrator, whose visual narratives helped to define the look of the era. Until the first photographic cover of Vogue in 1932, illustration was the dominant vehicle for communicating style.
This lecture will look at the role that fashion illustration has played in the promotion, consumption and idealisation of fashion, and as a visual record of changing aesthetics and attitudes towards dress up until the early 20th century.
DANIELLE WHITFIELD is a writer and Curator, Fashion and Textiles, at the National Gallery of Victoria. Since 2001, when she joined the NGV, she has curated numerous exhibitions and spoken and published widely on the history of Australian and international fashion. Holding degrees in Art and Museum Studies, she is especially interested in contemporary fashion culture and exhibition-making.
André-Edouard Marty (French, 1882–1974) (illustrator) Au Loup!... [The Wolf! ... ] plate 26 from Gazette du bon ton, no. 4, 1921