Plate to Pochoir: Illustrating Fashion


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.

The Johnston Collection is a multi award-winning and critically acclaimed museum, that invites creatives from the broader visual arts and design communities to re-interpret the Collection. The museum offers special tours, study days and lectures throughout the year, sharing stories and inspiring communities.

Tickets available here.

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