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Title: The future of fashion illustration
Authors: Au, Wai-man Raymond
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2004
Abstract: Fashion illustration has played an important role in our history and culture, and has served as an efficient means in fashion design and communication. However, fashion illustration is now at the cross road. Critics believe that fashion illustrations and drawings are superficial products of a throwaway, short-lived culture, or something that has no substantiated relevance to our lives, our aestheticism and awareness. Furthermore, it faces unprecedented competition from the increasing popularity of fashion photography and computer generated images. The present study is therefore initiated to investigate the future role and form of fashion illustration and how fashion designers be trained with respect to fashion illustration. In order to project the future, one should understand the history. Part of the present research is hence devoted to the historical development of fashion illustration. In this part, fashion illustrations (i.e. drawings and images) in different historical periods and in various forms such as the pre-historical first cave wall paintings, sculptures, carvings, tapestries and mosaics of the Middle Ages; portraiture, pocket books and fashion plates of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries; fashion magazines and fashion photography in Twentieth Century were examined. It can be concluded that fashion illustrations have always been an efficient form of expression and communication and a cultural enrichment. As such, there are essential needs for fashion illustration in any society. The study also showed that fashion illustration cannot be separated from the technology at the time. It always used the best possible technology at the time to create fashion images. For example, fashion plates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries employed different techniques such as copper-plate engravings, etching, aquatints, and pochoir prints. When paper printing technology was matured, fashion pocket books and magazines became popular, and when photography was invented, it was employed to produce fashion photography. It is therefore reasonable to believe that the latest computer technology will not diminish fashion illustration, but enhance it. In order to future elucidate the impact of computer technology on fashion illustration, the pros and cons of computer illustrations were examined in a bibliographical research. The concern over the novelty and aesthetic value of computer generated fashion illustration is genuine. In creating fashion illustrations using computers, reference materials such as pictures or images are often partially or wholly "borrowed" or downloaded. The final art work is also a combination of computer's generation and illustrator's work. On the other hand, computer may be considered as a tool similar to the brushes and pens used in traditional ark work. It is evident that with the increased use of specialised computing equipment, novelty of the creative work becomes evermore separated from the making activity. Viewers may perhaps need to adapt to the arts of technology innovations. Computer illustrations nevertheless have many advantages in terms of speed, accuracy, efficiency and endless creative options. It is also very easy to make corrections or changes to a drawing or sketch without having to start all over again. The emergence of computer illustration inevitably leads to the broadening of the scope and concept of fashion illustration. The integration of traditional hand drawings and computer graphics may bring new dimensions to fashion illustration in terms of creativity, efficiency and ease in communication. Trainings for fashion illustrators should also be re-designed to accommodate the use of computer technology. In this study, a questionnaire survey was also conducted among fashion design students and professionals to solicit the different perspectives about the existing roles and future developments of fashion illustration. Two typical styles (A and B) of fashion illustrations were prepared and presented to the respondents for comments. Style A represents illustrations of more realism, showing details of the construction of the garment, such as stitches, pocket designs and draw-strings. Style B represents the more artistic and stylised drawings, mainly for projecting aesthetic impression. For the objectives of the investigation, the questionnaires basically consisted of five groups of questions: the bio-data of the respondents; views about the two styles of fashion illustration; the existing roles of fashion illustration; the future roles of fashion illustration, and education on fashion illustration. Considering the fact that artistic appreciations were rather difficult to quantify or being definite, open-end questions were considered as important in the questionnaire for the respondents to express the rationales for their answers. The results from the survey are tabulated and plotted and analyzed using Chi-square (x2) test or one-way ANOVA to examine the significance in the difference between responses from different groups or for different styles of fashion illustrations. From this investigation, it was found that (1) most fashion students and professionals preferred fashion drawings than fashion photographs; (2) fashion illustration has an important role in the fashion business and fashion art for both its technical and artistic values; (3) fashion illustrations of realism such as the Style A drawings shown in the survey can present more technical information and have more commercial potential in terms of style interpretation, costing, and manufacturing; whereas the artistic stylised types of fashion illustrations such as the Style B drawings have greater aesthetic value for appreciation and more commercial potential in editorial use, promotion and advertisement. Both types of drawings can be scholastically sound and beneficial to fashion design and product development; and (4) fashion professionals tended to appreciate the value of realism drawings more than the students did. Today's fashion students may need to strengthen their technical skills for good quality fashion illustrations; while fashion educationists must avoid putting too much emphasis on the arts aspects of fashion illustration.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Fashion drawing
Fashion and art
Pages: xxiii, 231 leaves : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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