Illustrator of the Month - March 2011 & Fashion Week!

So it happens that the blog post I want to write is about Fashion Week, while the blog post I need to write (in order to stay true to my own blogging rules) is Illustrator of the Month. So, since this is my party, I'm gonna combine the two into a fashion extravaganza! Details about my illustrator of the month are below, and his images will decorate this post, along with some tidbits about my trip to the fashion shows yesterday.

Frederick Watson is a Toronto-based fashion illustrator who first rose to prominence in the 1960's when he launched a series of illustrative black and white posters that sold like wildfire. Here's an example:

Over time he worked in creating theatre advertisements and eventually moved onwards towards painting as his primary passion.

His best-known works are of glamourous art deco-inspired women; women who appear to be from a bygone era.
These femme-fatale characters evoke a sense of freedom and luxury, ideal for works that are designed to promote luxury items and the upscale lifestyle. I got to thinking about the concept of the femme fatale  at the Attitude by Jay Manuel runway show last night.
attitude by jay manuel img src

attitude by jay manuel
Jay Manuel, if you don't know, is the guy from America's Next Top Model (and Canada's too). The runway models were from those shows, which didn't mean much to me since I don't watch, but the crowd was pretty excited about the celebrity factor and the house was packed. The line is a celebrity diffusion line for Sears, which isn't really something to be that excited over (I mean really....Sears?) but I really enjoyed it anyhow. The secret to  making his clothes-from-Sears wearing models look like glamourous femme fatale characters was all in the styling. He started out with greys and blacks with berets and sunglasses, very Bonnie and Clyde. You get a sense in the picture at right (my snap of Jeanne Beker looking on).
the artist Watson and Jeanne Beker

Then later in the runway he mixed colour and texture to create rich looks and then piled on a dramatic hair and makeup look. Above pictured is one of my favourite femme fatale looks; a model in a teal coat, rusty red hose, patent pumps, a dramatic eye, pin curls and a patterned blouse with dramatic jewellery.

The connection to the femme fatale illustrations is the illusion of glamour and luxury. After all, glamour is just a perception. And done right, even clothes from a department store can have the upscale luxury look pictured in these illustrations if curated in such a way as to create the illusion of total style freedom.

Speaking of style freedom, if you've been following for a while you know I'm pretty into colour. My favourite look last night was a woman who was wearing an outfit just like this red and green illustration. She was wearing bright green pants and shoes and a red blouse and blazer. Amazingly, the look didn't scream CHRISTMAS! which is truly no small feat. It worked because of the exact tones of green and red, and the multi-hued necklace. And her fierce attitude! Being able to pull off green and red is style confidence, is glamour. Here's a little spy picture I snapped of her.

You can also see her pictured above in the front row for Comrags in this panoramic shot I snapped waiting for the show to start. Amazing how much she stands out in the sea of black and white. Though colour is in  style and there was the odd person working it, she was really taking it to the next level.

comrags f/w 2011

Comrags is not a line that I am a huge fan of, their styling isn't always for me. Typically made up of sheath dresses and high necklines the overall look is more minimal and austere than I prefer, but the show last night had a number of really lovely textile prints that I liked. All of the textiles appeared vintage with a definite 1940's feel.

We were able to take in Lovas, Comrags, Attitude by Jay Manuel and last but not least David Dixon.

David Dixon F/W 2011
Dixon's show was his 16th anniversary show and it started off with a dramatic nostalgic video about his family and lives loved and lost. He showed a few items from classic collections such as 2009's Barbie by David Dixon. The Fall 2011 collection was inspired by a trip to Jakarta and was a basic colour story of black, white, grey and hot coral red. It featured some of the most incredible coral jewellery items I've ever seen.
David Dixon F/W 2011 img src

His styling and cuts were the most luxurious I've seen up close, (we were lucky enough to be in the second row for this show!) as his work is truly that of a designer who focuses on tailoring, cuts and drape.

He had some incredible pieces with texture and shape that can't be properly described in photo, only the movement of wear does proper justice. I loved this show and loved the hot red tone.

In the last few posts I've talked about colour, I've been talking a lot about orange and teal. One of my favourite colour vibrations and definitely hot for fall 2011, this trend was all over the runway.

Bringing it back to my Illustrator of the Month, here's a great illustration using my beloved orange. Orange is definitely hot for fall. One of the shows I didn't catch this year that I like to is the Joe Fresh line. Joe Fresh featured loads of orange and teal this season, luckily for us the internet lets us see it all!

Here's a video.

This year the show was extra hot because the  line is moving to the US market for the first time and rumour has it, representatives for Harpers Bazaar and the New York Times were in the house!

The best part about this news is that I'm going to get some great orange pieces at Loblaws prices! Can't complain about that.
Here we are on the way out the door, stopping for a quick shot in the hallway mirror. The best part of this quick snap is that my friend was actually on the phone, even though the posture  looks staged, it's 100% authentic moment! There will be more and better pictures of us, but what I love about this shot is our attitudes! The amazing thing about Fashion week is people watching. Everyone at the event is there to see and be seen. I've been a handful of times now and though the people watching never gets boring, the whole 'being seen' thing gets boring. I spent all of 5 minutes getting ready (though to be fair I did lay my clothing out a night in advance) and felt perfectly dressed. People ask me about the experience and what I can say is that it is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

You stand around (having a cocktail) waiting for the showtime. Then you stand in line for the show. Then wait more. Then you get herded in like cattle and seated. Then you wait again. Then the models walk for less than 10 minutes, then you applaud, then you leave again for another cocktail, while you wait for the next show. Rinse and repeat.

In the case of last night, the Attitude show was an hour and a half behind schedule. Most of this hour and a half we spent standing in extremely close quarters huddled together waiting in line. I was so relieved when we got to sit down. The shoes are fab, and I can walk in them no problem but a straight up hour and a half of standing on concrete floor and I figured either I was going back for another cocktail or I had better get a seat pronto. It is a lot of fun though and you always leave with a goodie bag.

I also always leave with some fresh fashion ideas.  One was a new way to wear one of those giant loop scarves, another a fresh way to mix patterned and colourful hosiery with knits and prints. In particular though you leave with the excitement and admiration for the work designers put into their collections. Months of work go towards preparing for a ten minute moment in spotlights. The pressure is immense and the crowd at times very hard to please.  Over all I can say I'm really into the inspirations for the coming fashion months as the 1940's trend stays strong with nipped waists, lush texture, pattern mixing, incredible colour and over the top glamour. I don't want to rush summer but I'm excited to see the fall lines (and especially fall colours) enter stores.

Frederick Watson is represented by David Leonard Fine Art in Niagara Falls, ON.

Extra special thanks go out to the artist himself who sent along many of these images for my use after discovering my blog.

Thanks so much Fred! I love your work.

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