IT ALL LINES UP: Fashion illustrator Richard Haines is gearing up for the April 18 opening of his show at the Daniel Cooney gallery.
About 20 or so pieces will be displayed in the gallery, including the work of Antonio Lopez; Christian Bérard; Paul Cadmus, an artist from the Thirties and Forties who was known simply as “Eric,” and other illustrators who influenced Haines. That combination led to the exhibition’s name, “The History of Beauty,” which is really telling a bigger story about fashion and illustration. The end result is not only what it means to Haines, but what it was, and what it is, he said. “I moved to New York in the Seventies, thinking I was hoping to be an illustrator. It was really just a dying field so I spent most of my career designing clothes. Then I started a blog of illustration 10 years ago and it just took off. With social media, there is so much more image with everything that illustration is really relevant again,” Haines said. “If I said to someone 10 years ago, ‘I want to become a fashion illustrator,’ they would have said, ‘That’s insane. There’s no work.”’
Busy non-stop, Haines had a monthlong artists’ residency in Brescia, Italy, at Palazzo Monti after attending the men’s shows and the couture shows in Europe. “It was so incredible to go somewhere and to not have an agenda for a month. I went to Naples for five days. I’d go to Milan for the afternoon — it was just kind of a dream. This show is really a culmination of all of that.”
Valentino’s Carlos Souza arranged for Haines to attend the house’s spring/summer couture show last year in Paris. “I had no idea when I was walking in that it was this turning point collection of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s work. It was just one of the most extraordinary things that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “There is something that he does that is the dream of couture, but it’s incredibly modern. There is something very light and very forward about it.”
Recalling how “every illustrator just went nuts” over the designer’s use of color and shapes, Haines said he returned to his hotel in Paris and “was so inspired” that he couldn’t wait to draw. After posting some of the images of his sketches, Haines said Piccioli has since purchased some of them. The artist has collaborated with Dries van Noten and Prada. Another company that he has worked with, J. Crew, tapped him a month ago to be photographed at work in his studio (wearing a J. Crew suit) for an online campaign. At 67, no one is more surprised by his mini-modeling career than Haines himself. Another campaign with Oliver Peoples is due out this week — one of four modeling gigs that Haines has had in the last six weeks. “It’s all kind of the same thing. I guess that’s social media — visibility, image, presentation and telling a whole story. It’s just part of the story.”
His design career included a creative director role at Nautica followed by a small business designing customized shirts and ties (his clients included high-end restaurants such as Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group). That dried up after the economy tanked about 10 years ago so he started drawing and blogging out of necessity. Flattered as he is by the modeling offers, Haines said, “At the end of the day, I’m just so happy drawing and going to fashion shows. I spent so many years designing that I have so much compassion for designers, because I know what goes into it.”