Draw inspiration from icons in fashion illustration

Two icons in fashion illustration : Piet Paris & Megan Hess

Piet Paris
Megan Hess

To give an idea of different fashion illustration styles I’ll start this article of with two examples of icons in the fashion illustration. Piet Paris and Megan Hess both are successful illustrators with an illustration style that can clearly be identified.

“Really find your style. It defines you and makes you stand out from the crowd.” – Erin Petson

The style of Piet Paris

Piet Paris has been in fashion illustration for more than 25 years. Paris had worked with big international clients like Vogue, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harper’s Bazaar and has launched multiple books. In 2011 he designed the invitation, backdrop and catwalk for the spring / summer fashion show of design duo Viktor & Rolf. He is known all around the world for his graphic and unique fashion illustration style. The illustrator is always looking for the perfect shape. For finding the perfect shape he uses techniques like stencils and collages. In a video interview he spoke about how he developed his style. He likes to use stencils just like his hero : famous dutch graphic artist Hendrik Werkman. He also likes to have clear contours in his work, just like the creator of Nijntje, Dick Bruna.

Dick Bruna and his character Nijntje

Piet Paris describing his work

“My drawing style exists of leaving out and simplifying. This I combine with a great desire for making a composition where the residual spaces are just as important as the drawing itself.”

In the video interview Piet Paris tells about that when drawing by hand it’s easy to make mistakes. He didn’t like the fact that when mistakes are made, he has to start te drawing all over again. So he decided to cut the good parts out of his drawings and use those for new art works. That’s when the idea was born to work with stencils.

The drawing process goes as follows: Piet Paris starts with an idea and a blank sheet of paper. The first thing he does is drawing the directions of the body. He works from the inside out. Then stops when he feel like he needs to stop, like “..when you think oh, if I add much more she will get too large”. (Piet Paris). After that he cuts out the parts that he think have an interesting shape and uses the shapes as stencils. With spray paint he fills up the stencils with colors and texture. The final step is creating new art work by using the created shapes and combining them with linework.

Time to create!

The work of Piet Paris inspired these sketches. I took a Vogue and started drawing the looks from the fashion photography while keeping in mind to simplify and draw with shapes.

The next step was adding colour. For this I used a lightpad to trace the shapes in my sketch. Then I used the shapes as stencils plus aquarelle for creating a new illustration with colour.

The style of Megan Hess

Megan Hess,

Megan Hess is an international fashion illustrator. She works for fashion designers and luxury brands. Clients are Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada and many more. The size of her work varies from the size of a postage stamp to an entire building. She illustrated the bottom of luxury swimming pools in Dubai, walls, designer chairs, homes in Paris and New York. Megan Hess is also the author of Coco Chanel – The illustrated world of a fashion icon, Elegance – The beauty of French fashion, Paris – Though a fashion eye, a children’s book Clarin – The chicest mouse in Paris and more.

Just like in Piet Paris his work black and white are dominant when it comes to coloring. The figures in her illustrations are quite simplified, but her illustrations also have a lot of detail in them. I feel like when I look at Megan’s work I enter a beautiful fairytale-like fashion world filled with tall fashionable and elegant fashion figures. For creating her illustrations she uses a custom-made Mont Blanc pen. From each illustration she creates twenty-five limited edition prints in her atelier.

What is really interesting about following her work on social media is to see the way she presents her work and the broad variety of projects she works on. She collaborates with other artists and brands to print her work on objects like plates and furniture and decorates whole apartments with her illustration work.


Time to create!

I illustrated a design from the spring/summer fashion show of Chanel in 1992. For the illustration I used the work of Megan Hess as inspiration source. The idea is that I experiment with different styles and techniques to develop my own illustration style.

Drawing makes you look differently at things. By drawing in her style I had the chance to really look closely at her style and pay attention to details. That also counts for creating the work inspired by Piet Paris.

I love how she adds this really thin lines next to the main lines. It makes the illustration lively and adds movement.

Megan Hess about the evolution of fashion illustration

“Fashion illustration is always changing and I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s an ever-changing world and so too are the images that people draw and the messages that they convey. Similarly to photography, how it has become so perfect and slick over the years, illustration has become more appreciated for it’s very raw and intimate look. With the rapid evolution of technology, accessibility to most things and the world more mass produced, I hope that anything hand-crafted , such as an illustration will become more valuable in terms of the creative process and outcome. It feels more personal and bespoke. It’s a more intimate way of communicating.

Fashion illustration will continue to evolve. It has already evolved to be many different things and its appeal has really become diverse. Depending on it’s final usage, it can be anything from something very commercial to something very personal and bespoke. There are so many different styles of illustration that it can be communicated in so many different ways. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for the world of fashion illustration.”

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