Drawn In: The Return of Fashion Illustration

In our high-gloss, high-tech age, the quirky art of fashion illustration is experiencing a revival that traces a line from your wardrobe to your walls. Last February during fashion week in New York, noted illustrator Bil Donovan got a call from New York magazine asking him to document the backstage action. So, at shows from Carolina Herrera to Thom Browne, amid frenzied TV crews, photographers and Snapchatters, the gentlemanly artist pulled out his ink pots and went to work. When Mr. Donovan asked the editor why he was hired, she replied, “Because anyone can take a picture.’ ” Anyone can take a picture (and thanks to filters and apps, a pretty professional-looking one at that). But not just anyone can draw or paint one. Which may be why in this high-tech age, illustration—which celebrates the personal, intimate and quirky—is having a moment, popping up on beauty packaging, as prints on blouses and bags, and all over Instagram as the latest form of fashion reportage.

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