Showing posts with label fashion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fashion. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Most animation cartoonists who come to Theory Corner probably aren't interested in fashion illustration, I guess because animation is acting intensive and requires an emphasis on simpler color. That's understandable, but I'd argue that a study of that medium, fashion I mean, is still useful for our trade, regardless of whether what we do ends up being on the screen or not. It's simply a good training ground for a certain kind of color and line. Of course I'm a guy so I'd choose more masculine subject matter.

It's a style that encourages doodling in color, as in these Christian Lacroix sketches.

Lacroix was one of the creators of the Cindi Lauper style in the 80s. 

His sketches are reproduced in a few books.  They'd make great Christmas gifts for artists. 

Here's (above) a page from a Lacroix swatch book. I like the color combinations.

Swatch books never turn up in book stores. They're handed down from one artist to another.

I did a search for Lacroix posters but I didn't turn up anything first rate. To judge from pictures on the net, the posters he puts on his own walls are colorful prints from other media. 

That's all I have to say about Lacroix, but I'll add that my hits have diminished in the last couple of weeks, maybe because people are focused on the holiday. That's okay, so am I. I think I'll take this opportunity to post on a reduced schedule for a couple of weeks. I'll be back on a full schedule soon after Christmas. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I know nothing about the fashion business but I know a little about one of the big designers because there's so many books about him. I'm talking about Christian Lacroix (above). He's evidently in love with color and the walls of his studio are covered with gouache sketches, art books and exotic fabric samples.
It's easy to see that Lacroix isn't just the owner of his studio, he's its chief morale officer.  The ubiquity of his work says to workers and visitors alike that this is a studio dominated by artists. If you're not an artist yourself you'll feel intimidated and out of place there, like you have two left feet. It's a scary environment for nonartists and that's the way it should be.

An artist's environment should make an outsider feel he's in a gypsy camp, full of exotic sights and sounds. It should be a world apart.

I wish art schools were like that. You'd think that art schools would set the tone for cool, artsy work environments, but they seldom do. An art school that can afford it will generally opt for the austere "angular minimalist" look (above). It's an architect's environment, not an artist's.

Schools probably have to do makes parents and regulators feel good and you can't disregard people like that. Some schools solve the problem by keeping the minimalist lobby...

...but nurturing a rats nest of filthy, cozy artist environments on other floors.

The horrible truth is that creative artists sometimes prefer crummy, isolated environments. Maybe that allows them to tune out distractions and focus entirely on their work.

If you're a digital artist there's half a chance that you work in one of those trendy bullpen environments (above), but my guess is that artists don't do their best work in places like that. It doesn't satisfy the need of all artists to rise above the crowd and establish their own identity.

Background painters' work should be present all over the studio. It's good for the morale of the other artists to see it. It's a constant reminder that creativity is expected, that its an artist's job to entertain, surprise and to stimulate the audience's imagination.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Here's what I'm reading now, or rather will read when I finish Mike Barrier's book about Dell comics. I know nothing about the Aztecs but the illustrations in the book are so beautiful and the stories so enticing that I can't help but jump the gun and write about the subject anyway. 

You can't write about the Aztecs without mentioning human sacrifice (above). I'll return to that in a minute.

Just thumbing through the book has convinced me that my old understanding of Aztec architecture was flawed. The shapes of the structures were more varied than I expected.

The Mayan and Aztec cities were sometimes burned to the ground, indicating to me that there were more wooden and stucco structures than modern illustrators have indicated. You see lots of surviving stone building shapes (above) that only make sense if wood were part of the design.

Mayans and Aztecs made beautiful stone walls (above), probably the most beautiful ever seen, but you have to wonder if stone walls of that type were as common as we think. Wooden walls would have been easier to make and embellish. My guess is that elaborate wooden variants of the stone walls were all all over the place in old Aztec cities. They just didn't survive the Spanish conquest.

Amazingly the early Aztecs and Mayans were believers in relatively limited war. The nobles of each side would fight in a public place and the winners determined which side won the war.

BTW, the illustration above is a cheat, inspired by the later Aztecs who fought differently and massacred large numbers of captives. Amazingly we know the name of the man who convinced everyone to do that.

There he is (above). His name was Prince Tlacaelel, a warrior priest and mystic guess...psychopath. The Prince convinced everyone that the god Huitzilopitchli would grant unlimited military success to the Aztecs provided they practiced ever-growing human sacrifices.

Let me digress to marvel at the beautiful clothes worn by well-off Aztecs. Fashion must have been a big deal in that culture. And look at the furniture in the background! It's like something out of "Dr. Caligari."

I wonder if fashion played an indirect part in the Aztec conquests. Aztecs were pretty good at undermining the confidence of their enemies with their sophisticated art and architecture. The Mayans pre-emptively defeated the Toltecs partly by encouraging Toltec tourism to their magnificent and intimidating cities.

BTW: I'll digress for a moment to marvel at the fact that the Aztecs enthusiasm for architecture never made its way into their drawn art. I'm not aware that any culture in the West thought landscapes were worth an artist's time. Maybe the Chinese and Japanese valued it but I'm not aware that anyone else in the ancient world did.

Anyway, thanks to Prince Tlacaelel an enormous number of prisoners of war were sacrificed over the years, so many that when Cortez and the Spanish arrived to plunder, a lot of the local tribes sided with the Spanish against their own ethnicity. The final battle was incomparably brutal, with genocidal atrocities being committed by Cortez's vengeful Indian allies.

If there were lots of beautifully carved wooden structures maybe they wouldn't have survived the conquest. Both the Spanish and their vengeful allies would have had reasons to destroy them. But this is conjecture. A counter argument might be that Mexico didn't have much hard wood.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Traditional animal characters were often naked below the waist. Maybe that's one reason they were so appealing and funny. You wanted to laugh before they even did anything.

Modern designs are sometimes pantsless but they're designed in such a way as to de-emphasize the nudity.

For human characters the obvious way to go is clothes that are either too small or too big. I like the way Curly's jacket fits in this photo.

All my thrift store jackets are deliberately either too small or too big. I wish I could show you a picture of the miniature Uncle Eddie jacket John gave me a long time ago, but I don't have it anymore and I think I'll take a minute to tell you why. It spotlights an age-old wives trick that men need to know about.

It works like this: the wife waits til her husband is busy with something then asks him a few questions that have an obvious "no" answer, questions like: "Are you saving this ball of lint?" "Do want this pencil stub?" "How 'bout his used Kleenex?" She gets a nice litany of automatic "no's" going then casually throws in the important item, in this case: "Do you want to save this ugly old Uncle Eddie jacket?" The first ten times my wife tried this I reacted with horror that she could even think of such a thing, but she persisted and one day when I was seriously distracted I found myself saying, "Huh... oh, yeah...sure...whatever..." and that was the last time I ever saw my jacket. Now I live in fear that my more-precious-than-rubies Wrinkle Jacket will suffer the same fate.

But I digress.

 I like one-of-a-kind outfits myself.

Cartoonists should be fashion leaders, not fashion followers.

I like suit jackets (above) that flare out and stay flared.

What kind of dress shirt? One way to go is bulky one-size-fits-all shirts that always look ironed and new, like they just came out of the wrapper.
A certain kind of character should tuck in his shirt even though that's not the style now. In real life tucking it in requires constant adjustment and that's a great bit of business for a character with OCD.

Besides, tucked in shirts look great when they're pulled out (above) and allowed to hang loose. They retain their beautiful wrinkles at the shirt's bottom.

BTW, how do you like the crumpled forearm fabric and long cuffs?

Dress shirts come with all sorts of biases. This one is tight at the shoulders and loose everywhere else.

I wish I could have found a picture of a ballooning "parachute" backed tuck-in but, Alas!, it was not meant to be. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


Fashion has been funny for at least four decades and it shows no sign of abating. The big trend in recent times is clothes that fit but don't don't fit.  Here the model wears a tailored version of the kind of felt costumes that puppets wore in TV shows like "Fireball XL-5." Maybe there's a hint of anime in it, too.

Stiff bras are funny and for that reason I predict their return. They'll keep their shape even when the girl reclines, with the result that girls will recline more often.

Nerds are everywhere nowadays and they've influenced fashion. Girls usually combine the nerd look with other things. This girl (above) starts with nerd but uses tattoos for a hipster accent and bare feet for a touch of hippy.

Here's (above) an interesting picture. It has nothing to do with what the girl is wearing, it's about the pose she's taken. She's deliberately emphasizing the line of her jaw and of the back of her neck, something only professional photographers used to do.

I'm guessing that came about because of the latest trends in bathroom design. Modern bathrooms have two large mirrors, one in front, and one in back. The result of that is that a greater number of people than ever before have an awareness of what they look like from the back and side.  That's bound to effect fashion and even the type of poses people strike in public.

   In my opinion the muscular look for women will soon go out of fashion, but that's probably just wishfull thinking.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Well, if you're a fashionable guy then you're probably already eyeing nerd pants like these (above). They're the latest thing. They show lots of ankle and a have high waists that wrap around the bottom of the ribcage.

Hey, it beats the old fashion look that it's replacing. I was never a fan of baggy shorts (above).

Let me digress to remark that you never see stovepipe shorts (above) on the street anymore. Stovepipes were always worn with black socks and a nose ring. 

Of course the recent guy fashion that you see on the street every day is the skin-tight neo-emo jeans. The picture above is the girl equivalent of that. It's all over the place now but the high waist-nerd look will probably replace it in a few years. Tight jeans are just too hard to put on. 

The big news in women's fashion is the replacement of high heels with ultra high heels (above). 

The newest shoes are thick and high, and are usually black. I saw women wearing shoes similar to these (above) at the mall today. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


There's a new book about costume design called, "Hollywood Sketchbook: a Century of Costume Illustration." I'm no expert but I'll be very surprised if this isn't the best book done on the subject in decades. Take a look at a few pictures and see what you think.

That green dress above looks like something Ginger Rogers might have worn. I like the slanted pose.

Haw! I wonder what film this dress was for.  Well, costume design for film isn't the same as fashion design. Costume design for the movies is supposed to heighten our understanding of a particular character in a particular situation in a particular story. It doesn't always aim to make that character look good.

Okay, I recognize these dresses (above) from Caberet. 

Yikes! Stork legs!

I know I've seen this (above) design somewhere...maybe on Eve Arden in a 40s film.

 What were these sketches for? Commenters said they're Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz.

I threw this (above) in because I liked the back shot of the girl.

Holy Mackerel! This (above) looks like something Bakst would have done, but it's by someone else.