Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Fashion Illustration at The Bowes Museum...

Hello lovelies!

On a gloomy Saturday in September, I took a rare day off work to indulge in a rather stylish pastime. Local fashion illustrator and creator of the amazing 'Fashion Exercise Book' Frances Moffatt, was hosting a day's fashion illustration course at the Bowes Museum and when I saw it advertised I knew that I had to take part.  You may remember my post from a short while ago where I tried my hand at some self-taught fashion illustration (here) just to get some practice-but I couldn't wait to be shown the ropes properly!  There's a bit of a history of fashion illustration in my family; years ago my Mam was offered a job as a commercial artist, but it happened at a time when money was more important than doing the job you love, so she had to decline the offer in favour of something else higher paid and less fun.  Mam and I are so similar that I wondered whether I'd inherited the illustrator's gene? I guess there was only one way to find out!

I arrived at the museum at 930am, eager to see what was in store.  Fran gave us all a warm welcome, and we spent the first part of the morning getting to know each other.  It was great to hear about everyone's interests and the differing reasons they had signed up for the course.  Some were fashion or art and design students keen to add to their portfolios and others were like me, complete beginners with a real interest in fashion.

After an introduction to Fran's background and brilliant work (and copious amounts of tea and coffee!!), we were each given some paper to free hand sketch from some fashion photography, whilst others took turns to sketch the outline for their final drawings at the light box.  Sketching is so therapeutic-I almost didn't realise how hungry I was when lunch was announced!

Later, after a delicious leek and potato soup, a gossip and more coffee in Cafe Bowes, we spent our afternoon perfecting our sketches before moving on to adding colour through various mediums.  I was slightly terrified of the water colours and Indian ink so played it safe with water-colour pencils and Pro-markers.  I had no idea how I wanted my finished piece to look and in the end, it was my original freehand sketch that I preferred of the two.  There were some amazingly talented people on the course and mine was by no means the best, but I was really proud of my efforts and flattered that Fran compared my style to Kelly Smith's.

 My first sketch 
 Left: finished piece, Right, my preferred piece
One of Kelly Smith's books

We finished our day with a gift from Fran; a greetings card carrying one of her images, followed by a nose around the YSL exhibition (my third visit so far, read my review here).  If you haven't been yet, there's still time as the exhibition runs until October 25th and it's stunning!  I also promised myself I would stay away from the gift shop, but being the Vogue lover that I am, I couldn't resist buying a copy of 'Fashion Drawing in Vogue' after browsing through Fran's copy.  The images in it, from a time when fashion photography didn't really exist, are absolutely beautiful and very inspiring.

Since doing the course, I've not had much opportunity to sketch, but I loved the experience so much that I know it's something I'll definitely come back to when I'm not so busy with work.  I learnt so much from Fran and met some wonderful people; it was such a fun day all round.

Fran's book and some materials to sketch at home!

Megan Hess-one of my favourite fashion illustrators.  I also love her sister Kerrie's work.

Just as a final note, I also squeed with delight when I got home to see that my #OOTD post from  Instagram of the day's chosen outfit was liked and commented on by the amazing Fondation Pierre Berge, the brilliant foundation behind the preservation of the YSL name and archives!! It was so flattering to know someone there approved of my YSL style of dress!!

 More YSL images...

 ...and that photo!

Thanks for reading!  There are tonnes of fashion illustrators on Instagram if you want to see more beautiful images.  I'd also like to say a huge thank you to Fran, you should buy The Fashion Exercise Book-it's great fun! xxx


  1. Wow you're really really good! My attempt at this would have been hilarious, stick men all the way!

  2. Amazing post, your illustration is beautiful! Thank you for sharing :)

    Camille xo



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