Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Family of Fashion Illustrators

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my mother and came across these fabulous prints which I felt you all might enjoy.

My grandfather and mother were both fashion illustrators. My grandfather, Frank Nichols, became quite well known for his art and eventually opened up an art school, here in Tennessee. His house always smelled like coffee and turpentine. Visiting, as a child, I was fascinated by his studio. There was a life sized mannequin in the sudio, which always frightened me at night, and various paintings at different stages of completion. His favorite mediums were oil (which he used on most of his landscapes and portraits) or pen and ink. Though his oil paintings are still some of my most prized possessions (and which provide the backgrounds for many of my finished styling photos), I was always most drawn to those long, lean black and gray ladies of his fashion illustrations.

He specialized in textures-furs, lame', leather. I was always astonished how sleek and perfected his tiny brush could make these things appear.

My mother inherited much of his talent and was trained to be a fashion illustrator herself. She was gorgeous, simply built for a career in fashion. Starting out as a model, her runway experience helped her to develop an eye for design and accessorizing. She began to draw for Levy's department store in Memphis in the mid 1960's.

When I was a kid, I naturally had the very best in paper dolls.
I would just have to tell mom that I wanted 'that dress' for my paper dolls and she'd bang it out in mere minutes. When I watched 'The Ten Commandments', she drew me a 12 inch Egyptian doll that had an array of fascinating 'Hollywood' inspired costumes and a stunning black bobbed haircut. Somewhere along the way, I became obsessed with 'Gigi' and my talented mother was quick to create a doll that was the height of Minneli-esque, Lautrec-inspired french fashion.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little of her artwork with you here. I plan to frame some of it...I love the fact that you can still see her penciled in notes and those of the editor. Shoes were her specialty. In these days, where everything is done with computers, we sometimes forget the effort that was put into making clothing appealing to the average shopper. Pen and ink did that best, if you ask me.

Thanks for visiting,