We chat with Sue Dray about the LCF Fashion Illustration event at our Wonderland Shop.
Last week, the Wonderland Shop hosted LCF Fashion Illustration students for a live drawing session. If you follow our shop on Instagram (@wonderlandshop), you will have inevitably already seen some of the stunning illustrations that were created. We caught up with Sue Dray, the course leader of the BA Fashion Illustration course, to talk about the event.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do at LCF?
I’m the course leader of the Fashion Illustration B.A. Honours course. It’s pretty much one of the only places that offer a B.A. in that subject in Europe. It’s kind of a unique course. Since the five years I’ve been here it’s grown in its popularity. A lot of of people are turning to alternative ways of fashion imaging. It’s getting back to the artisan approach of replicating fashion collections.
Can you tell us a bit about the Fashion Illustration course?
We do a live drawing practice every Friday, then we draw the models focussing on developing drawing skills and then we do fashion illustrations of the models during the classes. And, actually, when Wonderland approached me I thought that it was perfect because it’s nice sitting in more of an industry environment. And there was a sense of entertainment about it. I draw girls on the catwalk live, drawing the moving figure, so it sort of replicated that whole notion of trying to capture the movement in the garment. We try not to make it too static, and try and capture the movement. It’s almost ethereal – capturing the essence of whatever the designer intended in the garment. It’s all about how the clothes look on the figure and how the figure works in relation to the collection. The model becomes quite an important feature of the drawing, their personality and persona and attitude. They help make a drawing powerful, because you have that dialogue between the artist and the model. That’s when proper drawings come to life.
What year were the students at the event in?
They are in their first term of second year. So they’re still in their development stages, not quite where they will be at the end of third year when they have developed their signature style. At the moment they’re very much developing, experimenting, exploring and learning the craft of the discipline of drawing. Drawing isn’t something you can just do over night, it has to be honed over several years and developed and developed and developed, so they’re just under half way. There’s some great talent among them, and definitely in the next year and a half they’ll really start to fly, so I’m pinning a lot of hopes on this year group. There’s no house style on this course, it’s not like they produce the same kind of work, they’re very much developing their own voices. We try very much to make them develop their own style.
“Using that lovely space in the lovely shop to create in, you’re surrounded by beautiful things”
We could see in the beautiful Instagram pictures from the Wonderland Shop that they all have their own style.
Yeah, and they loved that day, they thought it was fantastic. And because they were sitting in the windows that were on the Arcade there were so many people constantly peering through. Even though there wasn’t a massive amount of activity, they could see that there was a focus on something. I thought that was quite interesting. One guy was just standing there watching. People love to see other people create, there’s something about that which is quite magical. You know, people have said to me when I’m sitting in the front row drawing that they’ve watched me draw instead of a collection! And that’s a style of magic, to see it being done and creating.
How did you connect with Wonderland to set up the event?
We’ve been talking about doing a project where students are involved and to get something that’s more of a performance. I’ve taken students to draw in the Apple store, because it’s getting the students more and more out in the public domain and there’s that nature of the pop up performance aspect of it. So within about a week it was put together. And we hope to do a few more and build more on what we did and make it more of a happening. People love watching this kind of stuff. It’s a bit like going back to the 1960s down Carnaby street where there were little activities going on in boutiques. It had that feeling, like a happening, in the shop. And the shop was unbelievable, so friendly and the music was great. Whenever I do a drawing class I always get some music going, and I think it plays a huge part in that kind of activity. So the whole package came together! Everyone was very keen, so it would be great to do it again. Maybe to get some canvases up. I think there’s lots of scope for developing it into something that could be really exciting.
How did the atmosphere of the Wonderland shop impact the artists?
I think it’s quite alternative because it’s so social. It opens it up. Anyone who didn’t know about how that process is done, it opens up people’s knowledge about how you go about producing fashion illustrations. It’s informative and it inspires people. If you see people creating, it kind of makes you want to be creative. Using that lovely space in the lovely shop to create in, you’re surrounded by beautiful things. It has that formality of a shop, but having people drawing in it lets its guard down a bit and allows you to unravel the mystery of it.
What’s the next stage with the drawings?
There is a lot of taking it back and reworking it. Being inspired by a pose, and changing that pose. It’s all about the individual artist. This particular group of students are working towards an exhibition at the beginning of March at the House of Vans where some of the drawings from the Wonderland event will be. We really hope to collaborate with Wonderland again on future drawing events and activities.