Book review:

The Age of Feminine Drawing (AllRightsReserved Ltd.)

Illustration is back. After a decade spent hiding in the shadow of fashion photography, drawings inspired by fashion and its most illustrious muse - the feminine form - are returning to the fore. Often inspired by Japan and the Far East, the new wave of fashion illustration fuses various global elements with, crucially, the imagination of the artist. Style in its various guises, from cosplay to pop music, from high fashion to finely-tuned subcultures, has found ways of incorporating the feminine drawing trend. The aesthetics of Nouveau Japonisme and Chinoiserie bleed elegantly into the corners of 21st century fashion, signalling a return to the tradition of drawing after years of photography holding court on magazine covers, cosmetic advertisements and packaging.

There are many books compiling examples of contemporary fashion illustration, but few have elected to focus specifically on the commodity of contemporary feminine drawing as a marketable product, and explore the eastern influence on many artists’ work. The Age of Feminine Drawing fills in the gaps with remarkable style and beauty. Showcasing original works by artists from around the world, particularly Europe and Japan, the book also features behind-the-scenes looks at some of the artists’ studios. There are features on mass-produced products which integrate the trend, including some striking retro-inspired Paul & Joe lipstick cases.

The book features a wide range of artistic styles, including the commercially successful work of Jeffrey Fulvimari, whose drawings of cosmopolitan girls have decorated glamour magazines and his own international ‘Bobby Pin’ line, comprising of cute, stylish bags and accessories. The artists’ inspirations come from a broad field of art, fashion, literature and popular culture. The various muses, including Madonna, Emilio Pucci and novelist Haruki Murakami, are reflected in the diversity of the illustrations, from Ed Tsuwaki’s inimitable long-necked ladies to Mari Kubota’s drawings with their exquisite detail and girlish echoes of childhood.

Where lesser selections settle for covering familiar territory and over-exposed artists, this book explores a genre which is more familiar than we may have realised, but had never previously given much thought. Infiltrating our everyday lives and turning mundane artefacts into design triumphs, artists such as these deserve a platform. Whether more inclined towards illustration or fashion, those with aesthetic sensibilities will find something to pore over in the book. We are living in The Age of Feminine Drawing; it’s time to embrace the era and treasure the book that illustrates it so beautifully.

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