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Fashion Illustrations

British artist David Downton is a renowned fashion illustrator. In 1984, he worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from advertising and packaging to illustrating fiction, cook books and, occasionally, fashion.

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© David Downton

  • David Downton has gained a reputation as one of the world’s leading fashion artists. His classically elegant, yet highly contemporary images have been a strong factor in the resurgence of interest in fashion illustration. Having originally trained in graphics, David’s natural ability with the human form, spontaneous approach and economy of line rapidly led to a hugely successful career working with, among others, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, V magazine, Chanel, Tiffany’s New York, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harrods, TopShop, Lancôme and the V&A Museum.
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© David Downton

In 1996, he was asked by the Financial Times to draw his impressions of the fashions at the Paris couture shows; since then, David has become chiefly known as a fashion illustrator. Over the last decade, David Downton has established a reputation as one of the worldʼs leading fashion artists. His fashion illustration career has charted the runway and captured the backstage glamour of couture. His drawings have graced the covers of fashion publications as well.

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© David Downton

His glamour portraits of fashion capture the essence of classically elegant and beautifully crafted couture. In this image, Downton uses a bold, blood-red backdrop and loose brush strokes to express the signature glam-rock style of Jean Paul Gaultierʼs collection.

The modern, artistic style is suggested in the monochromatic palette and the shapes, which lack specific outlines, yet suggest something tangible. The result is sensual, decadent, and provocative—all hallmarks of high-end fashion.

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© David Downton

“ Successful fashion illustration is fluidity, mastery of the medium – capturing a sense of the moment, layout and use of space and most important of all, strong drawing. You cannot be too good at drawing.” – David Downton says

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© David Downton

David Downton often depict the backstage area, where the models are dressed and made up, and in the breaks before they return to the runway. Later, in the quiet and peace of his studio, he finishes the rough and quick sketches with black ink, gouache, and acrylic paint. Thus he successfully translates the impressions into painting and illustration by capturing the magic of a particular moment. In this drawing, Downtonʼs Val l i celebrates the elegance of the female body in stunningly lavish clothes. He particularly emphasizes the elegant and proper gesture of the model yet leaves ample space in his illustrations.

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© David Downton

David Downton:

Over the last decade, David Downton has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading fashion artists. His classically elegant, yet highly contemporary images have been a key factor in the revival of interest in the tradition of fashion illustration and David is a worthy successor to the great artists in his field including Gruau, Eric and Antonio.

In 1996 he was commissioned to draw at the Paris Couture Shows by a Sunday supplement. And since that time he has worked principally as a fashion illustrator. His reports from the shows have appeared in V Magazine, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, The Times, The New York Times, Telegraph Magazine and most recently Vanity Fair among others.

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couture-VALENTINO COUTURE-2006 – © David Downton

David’s commercial client list includes; Chanel, Dior, Tiffanys New York, Top Shop, Joyce, Hong Kong, Harrods, Estée Lauder and the V&A Museum. In addition David has produced portraits (from life) of some of the worlds most beautiful and iconic women; Cate Blanchett, Dita Von Teese, Erin O’Connor, Catherine Deneuve, Iman, Linda Evangelista, Rachel Weisz, and Paloma Picasso.

He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by London College of Fashion, Academy of Art University, San Francisco and the University of Wolverhampton.

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portraiture-CATE BLANCHETT 01-LONDON 2009 – © David Downton

David edited the magazine Pourquoi Pas? A Journal of Fashion Illustration; the world’s only journal dedicated to fashion illustration. An area that he explored further in his book Masters of Fashion Illustration published by Laurence King Publishing, which came out in September 2010 and has recently been published in paperback edition. He is currently working on a new monograph.

In September 2011 he was appointed the first ever fashion artist in residence at Claridge’s Hotel in London, in which capacity he has been commissioned to draw the Hotel’s most illustrious guests from the world of style and fashion.

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portraiture-CATHERINE DENEUVE 01-PARIS 1999 – © David Downton

  • David Downton’s commercial clients include Tiffany’s New York, SAKS 5th Avenue, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Burberry, and the British Fashion Council. His work has been exhibited in solo shows at the Conningsby Gallery, London (1998 and 1999) and at the Couture Voyeur show at London College of Fashion’s Fashion Space Gallery (2006). Downton has also collaborated with supermodel Erin O’Connor on a number of occasions including shows at the Rootstein Gallery, New York (2002) and at the Joyce Ma Gallery, Palais Royal, Paris (2003).
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© David Downton


Name: Fashion Illustrations
Type: Illustration
Theme Colour: Soft colors, Black and White
Year: Varies
Technique: Ink and watercolor on colored paper with acetate overlay

The people:

Artist: David Downton
Representative: Serlin associates – Unit 445 Highgate Studios, 53-79 Highgate Road, London NW5 1TL, United Kingdom
Text Description: © Courtesy of David Downton
Images: © David Downton

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