Inspiration | Fashion Illustrator David Downton

Oscar de la Renta's Live in Love ad by David DowntonOscar de la Renta’s Live in Love fragrance, set to launch Oct. 15, will give us a new visual experience with fragrance that’s unusual for our digitally-driven, hyper-real times. The green floral fragrance celebrates “how you embrace life – you live in love. It’s not a person, it’s loving life, it’s loving the life you live, what you give, what you have received,” describes de la Renta. As such, the bottle was designed by de la Renta with eight faceted sides to represent the different aspects of a woman’s life. But perhaps the most interesting element is the high fashion illustration advertorial that marks a distinct departure from traditional fragrance advertising which de la Renta described as a “blur in sameness” where he can’t remember which model pitches which fragrance.

The solution? De la Renta decided to go back to the ads of the 50s, 60s and 70s when stylish illustrations were hand drawn. The Live in Love ad captures feminine glamour through the fluid lines drawn by British artist David Downton.

David Downton was born in Kent in 1959. He began his career as a fashion illustrator in 1996 after the Financial Times commissioned him to draw at the couture shows and has since worked with everyone from Tiffany & Co. to Chanel, Dior, Vogue, etc. In 2007, he launched Pourquois Pas? the first fashion illustration journal.

Below are excerpts from Downton’s  intervew with journalist Tony Glenville that provide insight into his work.
Q: Lets talk about your work methods. How do you arrive at the elimination of detail?
A: For me this is the hardest and the most interesting thing. In order to leave something out, first you have to put it in, or at least understand how every thing works. I do dozens of drawings on to layout paper taking the best from each one as I go. When the drawing looks right I start to eliminate, to de-construct if you like. I keep working until it looks spontaneous.

Q: What for you makes a successful fashion illustration?
A: Fluidity, mastery of the medium – capturing a sense of the moment, layout and use of space and most important of all, strong drawing. You can’t be too good at drawing.

Q: Which fashion illustrators do you admire?
A: Gruau for his graphic genius, Vertes for his humour, Bouché for his lightness of touch and Eric for his draughtsmanship.

David Downton Fashion Illustrations
David Downton Fashion Illustrations

David Downton Fashion IllustrationsDavid Downton Fashion IllustrationsDavid Downton Fashion IllustrationsDavid Downton Fashion IllustrationsDavid Downton Fashion IllustrationsDavid Downton Fashion Illustrations

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