PEN PALS: Video may have killed the radio star, but the smartphone camera has not completely snuffed out the pencil: British fashion illustrator David Downton is attending couture week and sketching the shows for Graydon Carter’s Air Mail.
Downton noted, however, that he rarely sketches during the show. He learned the hard way.
“The first fashion show I ever saw was Versace couture at the Ritz. Gianni Versace was still alive,” he related. “Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell — they all came out together. And I drew a perfect arm of Kate Moss. And that’s all I got. I missed the dress altogether.”
He said he now takes pictures, notes and does very small drawings in his sketchbook, completing the final illustration later.
Does he feel strange, being one of the few at fashion week that isn’t just filming?
“I started doing it 25 years ago: It felt odd then, and it’s odd now, but it’s wonderful, because it’s another point of view,” he said.
Downton noted he hasn’t been at any shows since the pandemic and he was pleased to be back at haute couture, which he described as the “Super Bowl of fashion.
“As long as I’ve been drawing, I’ve been told fashion illustration is dead. But you know what? It won’t lie down. It’s like couture. Half the time they’ll say, ‘Oh, couture, it’s irrelevant.’ Wrong. It’s never irrelevant because it inspires every single person in this room and everyone streaming.”
Downton noted he has two exhibitions coming up. He just released a limited-edition book on model and actress Carmen Dell’Orefice. “Ninety copies for her 90th birthday,” he said, flashing a smile.