Paris Fashion Week FW16 iPad Pro live runway sketching portfolio
This is a selection of my favourite sketches from my first ever exclusively digital live runway portfolio. I was among a small group of fashion illustrators this season who were given two new devices – the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – to take to fashion week, where I would sketch the entire week using Paper by FiftyThree.
These new tools solve a couple of issues that limited touchscreen drawing. Most dramatically, the size of the screen on the iPad Pro is larger, giving generous space for full figures. Also, the fine-pointed Apple Pencil is considerably more precise than the previous models of styli which had to have finger-sized tips.
Before RTW, I was excited to use the new tools and was gearing myself up to create an awesome portfolio. Unfortunately for me, I was to experience some real life obstacles this season which mean that for me personally, when I look at the portfolio, I know it isn’t what I’m truly capable of. After the triumph that was Haute Couture, RTW was a challenge.
Some obstacles are just about the weird clashes between digital and analog aesthetics. The Anrealage show – above – which used weaving and screens to create a moving moire effect like pixelated static. The result in this case, when I’m trying to render a digital effect rendered using analog materials, drawing with a digital tool with an analog aesthetic… it spins the head.
Then sometimes something would come through – the prevailing aesthetic this season was a long-sleeved, handless silhouette. At Y/Projects, this created really stunning proportions that here became a modern Gruau homage.
Then sometimes the obstacle is emotional. Quand on dessine, il est important d’être dans un bon état d’esprit, parce que la gestuelle reflete les émotions.
There was an undercurrent of disappointment at this fashion week for me – and it came out particularly at Ann Demuelemeester, above. Down feelings are particularly difficult to channel into drawings, although if you’re going to be blue you might as well be blue at Ann.
If there was an appropriate narrative theme to describe the three months I spent in Paris, it’s all wrapped up in Vetements, above and below. My battle in Paris was at the intersection of status, hype and access… all in the name of clothes.
Halfway through the week, I did a talk at the Apple store at Opéra, in French. To say this was a challenge for me was an understatement. I had a very attentive and supportive audience, and once I eased into performing my work my enthusiasm came out and it was wonderful.
After the talk at Apple was over, it was like a huge amount of pressure was released from me, and the sketches I did after that point were so much lighter and easier as a result. These two at Rahul Mishra were the best of the week.
At Masha Ma, the techno inspired styles in black and white were perfect for a quick sketch. Techno itself was a huge part of my Paris trip, and so were the two men who showed me the techno scene. It was good to be able to vibe to that music while I drew, a way to physically mark some memories that are important to me, and somehow the two outfits I drew were symbolic.
The big ticket I got was Hermès, and it was a real pleasure to see a really big show in Paris. I talked to friends who are editors and street style photographers, and realized that it was a weird season for everyone.
As soon as fashion week was over I was on a Eurostar to London where I’m still recovering from the intensity that was three months in Paris.
I’m very grateful to two young fashion illustrators – Eleni and Talia – who reminded me of why I’m in the game and helped me focus on everything I had instead of everything that fell through. After 8 years of doing this it can be too easy to forget how amazing all of this is. Not every season is easy but every season shows me something.
What I learned this season I’ll save for my memoirs.