Fashion Illustration: Inspiration and Technique
FASHION ILLUSTRATION by Anna Kiper
Golden Fleece in Sheep's Clothing
Ms. Kiper's opus is not a how-to for wannabees as likely to be assumed from its presentation. It is a folio of the finest art for appreciation by connoisseurs, and a beacon lighting the way of aspiring genius to Studio City, Manhattan, London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Budapest, St. Petersburg (name liable to be changed without notice) Shanghai, and Tokyo.
By the time a student decides to illustrate fashions, one should be able to render figures and drapery with professional competence, so a guide to this specialty is not the place for a primer on drawing and painting. The dozen pp Ms. Kiper allots to basics show how the fashion figure and poses differ from classic life study. She goes on for a couple dozen pp showing how the construction of garments is drawn as "flats" for the pattern makers; I bought the book for these pages. The rest of the book shows how she renders fabrics, patterns, textures, and accessories in exquisite detail with a variety of paints and tools, from watercolour to crayon, pencil, sponge, sandpaper, toothbrush, collage --- everything in the kitchen including the food.
At first sight, these illustrations look like spilled paint and burnt toast in a teenager's bedroom, but examination sees the lines defining the figures drawn with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, the facial features express more mood than live models, the materials seem palpable, and the construction photographically detailed. A consummation of the grand tradition, these illustrations are free as Matisse, colourful as Gauguin, true as Lautrec, and original as Van Gogh. Ms. Kiper dresses the stars, and her art is exhibited in museums. I wonder whether such genius inspires wannabees so much as it discourages; only students who know they are destined for greatness can learn arithmetic from Einstein.
I don't know how long it took Ms. Kiper to perfect her culinary techniques, or how long she spends on her masterpieces; genius is timeless. I do know that commercial artists working to support their families in my backwaters have to deliver camera-ready graphics in 90 minutes to customers who won't pay more than $100 (six months after billing), and believe Pink Panther and PLAYBOY are the non plus ultra in sophistication.
Printed brilliantly, this 8" X 11" book of 144 pp is an oeuvre of fine art in itself, rarely found at such a low price, and obviously a work of love by its accomplished production team, that can only make us working folk weep in envy. Examine the sample to be sure it is sweet to your esthetic taste.