thanks for this thread hana!! some very interesting work.. i love how he was able to convey the women's actual identities with so few lines in the first few posts... particularly stella tennant in the last picture of post #1 and the erin wasson ones are stunning as well
Ten years ago David Downton was a fashion virgin. Now he is one of its most sought after illustrators. Our Fashion Editor looks at his career and he recalls ten high points
The popular conception about couture is that it’s a world filled with neurotically thin people consuming unrealistic amounts of champagne and sitting on uncomfortable gilt chairs, while frocks which cost as much as a luxury executive villa on the Algarve waft past and everyone speaks and behaves in a code that would floor Dan Brown.
The reality is obviously nothing like this. Sometimes the neurotically thin people perch on uncomfortable white boxes. The etiquette and behaviour however — circa 17th-century Versailles, but more arcane — are just as coded. It was into this world that the illustrator David Downton was parachuted ten years ago as he says, “on an art editor’s whim”.
Downton, who had established a solid career in magazines, newspapers and yoghurt pots — he’s illustrated everything at some time, including the top 50 positions for a sex book — found himself seated at the Versace couture show watching Linda Evangelista, Kate Moss and Claudia Schiffer walk on water (or, to be technically accurate, walk on the marble catwalk Versace erected each couture season over the Ritz swimming pool). No wonder he was hooked — or that the fashion world is hooked on his elegant, economical yet teasing lines. For the past five years he has covered every couture collection for times2 as well as contributing weekly to Ask Lucia and working on projects for, among others, Valentino and Dior.
Simultaneously, interest in illustration has seemingly soared, although in his characteristically lugubrious style Downton thinks “it may just be that everyone is talking and writing about how interest has soared. I’m not sure you see more of it around. But it’s true that computers and the arrival — at last — of women in the field has opened it up much more.”
To mark a decade’s fruitful, and reasonably harmless, addiction to fashion shows, the London College of Fashion is holding an exhibition of couture illustrations from 1996 to 2006 entitled Couture Voyeur. Times2 fashion is offering readers the opportunity to purchase a Downton print and Downton offers his Top 10 couture fashion moments — one for each year.
DOWNTON’S TOP 10 MOMENTS
· The first show that I was commissioned to illustrate was also the first one I saw. Versace, 1997, in Paris. Kate, Naomi, Linda and Claudia on a marble catwalk over the Ritz’s swimming pool. They came out like gorillas of glamour. I’d never even seen a fashion show before. It was 0-60 in an instant. It was also the dying fall of all that. After that shows became far less extravagant.
· Apart, that is, from John Galliano’s for Dior at the Paris Opéra, which opened with a thunderclap. The first model ran up the enormous sweeping staircase like a reverse Cinderella. The train was so massive it was still at the bottom when she was at the top. Then she began running through the galleries and the dress sent everyone’s champagne glasses flying. All you could hear was the sound of glass shattering and little cries of distress as champagne hit cloth.
· I can’t remember who threw the fiancée de vampire ball at the Ritz, but it was masked and ridiculously glamorous. I remember watching Gwyneth Paltrow dance with Valentino and thinking, this is what everyone thinks a fashion party is like.
· The pub quiz that takes place nightly during Fashion Week at a Scottish themed pub in Paris. All the Brit models and rock stars go along and take part and pull pints behind the bar. I’m not saying who, or they’ll kill me.
· Dior’s belle époque show involved a lot of macabre make-up — nooses round the neck,that sort of thing. Afterwards a group of models, including Sophie Dahl and Marisa Berenson, had to stand around on the street waiting for a bus to take them to a shoot. I think it’s the only time the public have crashed into Planet Fashion in broad daylight. Crowds gathered. Nooses, traffic chaos, fag breaks — it just sums fashion up really.
· One year Madonna arrived at the Gaultier show an hour late surrounded by a man-mountain of security. The rest of the audience was pretty hacked off. And since craning your neck to look at a celebrity in the front row is social Siberia, they all “nonchalantly” looked the other way. It was like watching a giant Mexican wave backwards.
· After the huge extravaganzas came the intimate shows, back in the salons. We were so close to the models that I had to tuck my knees up under my sketchbook and before I knew it my pen had been abducted by the folds of one of the dresses. I was too afraid to see if it leaked but if there was a Jackson Pollock moment in fashion that year, I’m the one responsible.
· It may be cheesy, but I love the end of each Christian Lacroix show when everyone throws the carnation placed on their seat on to the catwalk. It’s like a blizzard of flowers. There’s so much genuine affection for him — and it shows that in France carnations aren’t a tacky Mother’s Day garage flower.
· The secret Valentino show. Ever season he puts on a full-scale show rehearsal the night before. Valentino sits at the end of the catwalk with his pugs, watching.
· I had a meeting with Catherine Deneuve because I’d drawn her. We were walking into a cocktail party at YSL and I didn’t have a ticket. They tried to stop me and Deneuve just said, in that imperious way: “Nous sommes ensembles” (We’re together). I thought that could go on — no, not the gravestone — the back of my book.
The exhibition, Couture Voyeur, which is supported by Topshop, opens on Tuesday and runs until May 18 at the London College of Fashion (020-7514 2998)
I've seen some of them (Lily Cole portraits) last month
in Oxford Street (London) where they've been exhibited !!
I was very impressed, hehe
I even took a pic of one ... I thought nobody was looking at me but... I was wrong
The responsible was nice though... (was afraid of her to throw my cam away... )
and she gave me more infos about the painter...
It was at Topshop as far as I remember an' there were paintings of Erin O'Connor too...
I think his stuff is great art, abstract in most, not detailed enough for me for fashion though, i'd rather see the intricate detailed work on the garments. I never understand this when you see fashion photography or illustrations - it doesnt communicate enough of the entire package... but pleasing to the eye