The man who's drawn the most beautiful women!
British David Downton is one of the world’s most famous fashion illustrators.
His passion for drawing began early in his childhood when he would spend days copying film posters from the newspaper. Cinema was, as a matter of fact, one of his biggest influences and we can see that in his classical and elegant lines that were best described as “Contemporary Nostalgia”.
He started his career as a self-employed general illustrator who took all kinds of assignments for advertisement, books and packaging but he grew frustrated with his early commissions, feeling he didn’t have a direction in his profession. So, when offered a free trip to Paris to draw the Couture shows, despite not knowing much about fashion, he accepted without thinking twice.
He fell instantly in love with the Haute Couture world. His first show ever was Versace, at the Ritz. As soon as the super-models Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelist and Kate Moss appeared together on the catwalk, Downton says he “was gone!”
And he has never stopped illustrating couture since then.
Downton says that to get a drawing that looks right, he does a dozen of sketches before. He then starts eliminating details to leave a “breathing space”, a gap that the eye of who sees the illustration will fill. He adds that his “mantra is to keep working until it looks effortless”.
Among his many clients are Chanel, Dior and the V&A Museum. He has also drawn the most VIP guests from the Claridge’s Hotel in London, where he has been appointed as its first fashion artist in residence. Over the years he has made portraits of some of the most beautiful women in the world including Catherine Deneuve, the jewellery designer and daughter of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, Paloma Picasso, actress Cate Blanchett and so on.
Downton also edited the only magazine dedicated to fashion illustration, Pourquoi Pas? and has already had two books about his work published; Masters of Fashion Illustration and Portraits of the World’s Most Stylish Women.
His stylish illustrations have drawn attention to the art of fashion illustration, which had been almost dead for 40 years, and have inspired many new talents - and hélas, some copycats too.
Photos via David Downton