2.16.2007

the vibrant line



Top: April 13, 1929, Eduardo Garcia Benito; January 2007; 2nd row: March 1, 1949, Marcel Vertes; October 1, 1941, Carl Erickson; December 15, 1936, Jean Pages; 3rd row: December 15, 1932 Erickson; October 1, 1935, Benito; July 15, 1939, Erickson; Bottom: December 1, 1938, Benito
I stumbled on a limited but truly enthralling collection of Vogue covers in the Condé Nast Store. Images available are heavy on the 1920s and 30s, with nothing past the late 1950s, but the offerings are well worth a detour over.

I was quite familiar with the (beautiful) covers of the Twenties. I had studied fashion for a bit, interned briefly at the Met's Costume Institute, and I still have a few books of fashion art. However, nothing prepared me for the brilliant, daring, effortlessly vibrant art of the 30s and 40s covers. The covers in the second row above, especially, are amazingly risky: The strange spiky bird for "Spring," autumnal passing legs--shod in non-descript day wear no less!, and what looks like a pre-saging of Pearl Harbor but is in fact meant to evoke a cruise ship steaming its way toward glamorous shores for the "Resort Issue."
Unusual vantage points, edgy color choices (brown! with fluorescent pink!) and not a celebrity in the bunch. How dull and and flaccid that Angelina Jolie cover is--merely a vehicle for the headline text and a wrapper for the ads. A predictable end product of demographic surveys, publicity campaigning, and marketing pronouncements.

I virtually never buy "women's" magazines anymore and I probably haven't picked up Vogue since the nineties. I do remember illustrators having quite a high profile in the eighties: Mats, Stavrinos, Antonio, Viramontes. What is happening today? And the oddly alienating and irrelevant drawings used in newspaper advertising for stores like Macy's and Lord & Taylor until, what 10 years ago? are they still being used? That was like the dry husk of fashion illustration.
What I wonder is: Did true fashion illustration die without my noticing?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Angela, thank you for the lovely reminder of the lines of past designers....retrived by your excellant site and sight...You are a refreshing oasis in the vast desert of on line chatter...please continue....

Anonymous said...

Angela...you have reminded of the lovely cover illustrations for Interview magazine by Richard Bernstein...what ever happened to those lovely covers and to Mr. Bernstein?...your devoted reader, between the covers....

angela said...

Oh interesting, Anonymous/Robert, thanks for telling me about--

I didn't know Richard Bernstein, and sadly I couldn't find much of substance about him. I did come across this article by Steven Heller in the AIGA archive:

http://voice.aiga.org/content.cfm?ContentAlias=_getfullarticle&aid=892218

Berntein's covers are ICONIC! they look FABULOUS right now. Why isn't there a book about him? Maybe there is. I see he died in 2002.

Anonymous said...

Angela...more please...I am always looking for your most recent blog...three weeks...me miss you long time....more please...rw

Robin said...

Fashion illustration in the traditional sense did die, coincidentally perhaps, with the deaths of several of the artists you cite--Antonio, Stavrinos, Viramontes--though those were the newer guys. Kenneth Paul Block was an amazing "old school" fashion illustrator who did the best ads for Lord & Taylor back in the 70s and early 80s. Macy's didn't really use illustration as a rule--they relied upon photography--so perhaps you're thinking of the defunct Bonwit Teller?

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