He adorns himself with the most beautiful women in the world. David Downton, fashion illustrator, is the confidant of haute couture. Since his breakthrough in 1996 as the fashion world’s illustrious illustrator, the Britian native (*Kent, 1959) has risen to the pinnacle of the international fashion scene as the talented portraitist of haute couture. But despite the euphoria and overwhelming success, the rising star among the world’s rich and beautiful has always remained down to earth.
He’ll never forget the years as a young designer and illustrator when he was happy to take any job – which made his first encounter with haute couture and even greater epiphany. The intoxicating experience of the eccentric gowns in which Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and other goddesses floated by on the Versace runway in Paris electrified Downton. But it was impossible, he quickly learned, to capture the celebrated couture looks on his sketchpad amidst the storm of flashing cameras. Thus Downton’s fashion illustrations all come to life backstage, where the models are dressed and fixed up, and in the breaks before they return to the runway. Later, in the peace and quiet of his atelier, he finishes and accentuates the hastily drawn images with black ink, gouache, and acrylic paint.
Downton’s style relies on condensing the visual impression into an essence. He successfully translates sensual impressions and extravagance into painting and illustration by capturing the magic of a particular moment and transporting it. Downton always enjoys the challenge in fashion illustration of celebrating the elegance of the female body in stunningly lavish clothes. With the same commitment to depicting haute couture on exquisite female figures Downton also excels as a portraitist of divas and models, among them Paloma Picasso, Erin O’Connor, and Catherine Deneuve.
Pourquoi pas? – Why not? is the title of the world’s only magazine for fashion illustration, which Downton began publishing in 2007. And there seems no better way to sum up his life – and his recipe for success – than that simple question.
Over the last decade, David Downton has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading fashion artists. His classically elegant, yet highly contemporary images have been a key factor in the revival of interest in the tradition of fashion illustration and David is a worthy successor to the great artists in his field including Gruau, Eric and Antonio.
In 1996 he was commissioned to draw at the Paris Couture Shows by a Sunday supplement. And since that time he has worked principally as a fashion illustrator, his reports from the shows have appeared in V Magazine, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, The Times, The New York Times and the Telegraph Magazine among others.
His commercial client list includes; Chanel, Dior, Tiffanys New York, Harrods, Estée Lauder and the V&A Museum. In addition David has produced portraits (from life) of some of the worlds most beautiful and iconic women; Dita Von Teese, Erin O’Connor, Catherine Deneuve, Iman, Linda Evangelista, Rachel Weisz, and Paloma Picasso. One of his recent commissions was to produce four illustrated covers of Cate Blanchett for Australian Vogue.
In 2006 David was made a Visiting Professor at the London College of Fashion and in May 2009 he was awarded and honourary Doctorate from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the world’s only journal dedicated to fashion illustration, Pourquoi Pas? A Journal of Fashion Illustration.
David’s book Masters of Fashion Illustration will be published in September 2010.
"David is the ultimate illustrator. He captures every nuance in the sitter’s face...we had great fun with Erin O'Connor and Linda Evangelista with their portraits (for the G Hotel in Gallway). He has a history with these people. He loves drawing them and they love being drawn by him."
"He is the Avedon of artists"
" ... The modern day Gruau"
"A master fashion Illustrator"
"It felt so very glamorous to be sketched, I was absolutely astonished at the beauty of his art, and how he creates it"
DITA VON TEESE