Dreamy Fashion Illustrations From a New Art Show

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A drawing by Bil Donovan.

This week, New York City will hum with the sounds of Fashion Week: clacking heels and slides, the spritzing of Le Labo’s Santal 33 perfume, and house music on the runways. It’s exciting. And … sometimes exhausting! If you’re feeling the latter, an ideal escape is the art exhibit “Drawing on Style,” hosted by the British gallery Gray M.C.A at Cheryl Hazan Gallery.
The show opens today and runs through September 10.

The exhibit features three legendary fashion illustrators: Kenneth Paul Block, Bil Donovan, and Jason Brooks. Block is known for focusing on models, not the clothes (one of his models included legendary photographer Steven Meisel). Donovan is Dior’s second ever in-house illustrator and works mostly in ink, quickly painting a romantic scene and often leaving the model unfinished. Brooks, a pioneering British artist, takes a dynamic approach and experiments with using technology to illustrate.

“Drawing on Style” has shown during London Fashion Week for the past five years. Curator Connie Gray decided to bring the show stateside and specifically focus on Block, whom Gray describes as “the most important American illustrator, without a doubt.” She adds: “[Block’s] influence was so enormous on American fashion. It seemed like the perfect platform to put on this show and also have a contemporary, a British illustrator who’s incredibly current in the international world.”

Fashion illustrations have rarely been given the retrospective treatment, because they’re often thought to be commercial. According to Gray, the drawings weren’t considered a true art form until the last five years or so. This is a rare exhibit, too: The only museum with a substantial amount of Block’s work is the Boston Museum of Fine Art. However, Gray was given “carte blanche” to Block’s archives (stored in North Carolina) where narrowing it down to the 30 pieces shown in the collection was, “literally almost impossible.”

The pieces will be available to purchase, if you’re looking to add a (slightly) more affordable piece of art to your collection. Click ahead to see illustrated Dior gowns, mod boots, and feathered fascinators.

Dreamy Fashion Illustrations From a New Art Show