Fashion illustrator Richard Kilroy has published a new book on menswear illustration, showcasing over 200 images by 40 leading artists and designers.
In the past ten years, Kilroy says he has noted a huge rise in global interest in menswear, “accompanied by an explosion in male grooming and sartorial blogging and an increase in men’s fashion publications”. While a number of recent books have examined contemporary menswear and fashion illustration, however (Kilroy notes The Mr Porter Paperback, Illustration Next, The Fashion Resource Book: Men and Contemporary Menswear: A Global Guide to Independent Men’s Fashion), there are few publications devoted solely to showcasing contemporary menswear illustration.
Introduced with a foreword by Dan Thawley, editor in chief of A Magazine Curated By, the book begins with a brief history of menswear illustration, in which Kilroy cites key developments since the early 20th century, from the influence of René Gruau and popular titles such as Gentleman’s Quarterly and Italian fashion magazine Vanity, to the recent resurgece in reportage illustration driven by an increase in live streaming and online reporting of shows.
Each illustrator is introduced with a brief summary of their background, style and influences followed by a selection of recent work and featured artists range from established names such as Donald Urquhart and Jean-Philippe Delhomme to newcomers Helen Bullock and 26-year-old Matthew Attard Navarro, now art editor at Net-a-Porter. The book also includes a look at illustrations and technical drawings by fashion designers incuding Sam Cotton, co-founder of menswear label Agi & Sam, and RCA graduate Fiongal Greenlaw. “As a fashion illustrator, I am equally inspired by the sketches of designers…they provide a unique glimpse of personal work that is often unseen,” writes Kilroy.
Kilroy describes his selection as 40 of the most interesting and innovative menswear illustrators working today and by focusing solely on illustrations for men’s fashion, hopes to highlight some of the nuances of the craft and how it differs to illustrating womenswear.
“It could be asked why this book should focus on menswear, when it might be more rational to reflect on illustration as a whole…but when we examine those artists who concentrate on menswear, we find particular emphases, moods and styles that are idiosyncratic to their craft,” he explains.
“The sinuous lines and fluidity of materials that are commonly used to convey the draping and curves of womenswear are not necessarily suited to menswear. Different visual symbolism is at play and muscles, shoulders and hands, strength and a different type of posture are often to the fore. That is not to say, however, that all the men depicted by these artists are traditionally masculine.”
Felipe Rojas Llanos
It’s a carefully curated look at the diversity and creativity that defines contemporary menswear illustration, and Kilroy’s selection provides a real visual treat, with imagery ranging from witty and interpretative to photorealistic. There’s a variety of styles and media on show, too, from intricate pencil drawings and spontaneous sketches to watercolours and the clean lines of Jack Hughes’ mid-century inspired artwork.
The book launches during London Fashion Week (which takes place 20-24 February) and to celebrate, Paul Smith is hosting an exhibition of work from featured artists at its Mayfair store. For opening times, see paulsmith.co.uk
Menswear Illustration is published by Thames & Hudson on February 23 and costs £19.95. To order a copy, click here.
Drawings: Men & Style is on display at Paul Smith, No. 9 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BL from February 16 – March 6.
Sam Cotton (Agi & Sam)