Before fashion film, there was fashion photography, and before fashion photography, there was fashion illustration. Dazzling the pages of many of fashion's most revered publications, wondrous illustrations adorned the covers (and continued to decorate the inside pages) of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Flair, Tatler and many more throughout the first half of the 20th century, proving quite an asset to the quintessential style bible. Having always believed in the power of illustration, primarily when used to communicate a mood or palpable presence, SHOWstudio have long been inviting fashion's most talented illustrators, on and under the radar, to offer their unique talent in interpreting the latest season's collections.
To celebrate the marvellous creativity offered at London Fashion Week recently, we invited illustrator Christina Romeo to reimagine her favourite looks by putting pen to paper to create artwork that mirrored real-life art. Musing on all of London's beauty and elegance, explicitly inspired by the theatrics of Edward Crutchley and intricacy of Simone Rocha, Romeo decided it was these two displays that caught her eye the most, deserving of being transformed into illustrative physical additions for lovers of the celebrated art form to gawk over.
Viewing artist expression as a tool to experiment, Romeo explores the relationship between different types of media in her work through straddling multiple techniques that incorporate ink, fabric, collage and stitching to create depth and refinement. Does her unique illustrative style bring Crutchley and Rocha's collections to life? Or warp them entirely into something else? With no one to turn to for an exact answer, lover of all things illustrations Christina Donoghue decided to interview Romeo herself, wanting to know more about her unique way of illustrating and creating as a full-time scientist.
Christina Donoghue: How would you describe your illustrative style?
Christina Romeo: My style overlaps between emotion-evoking fantasy characters or heroes mixed with fable-inspired supernatural worlds. I hope to elicit an emotive response as a form of connection or a more profound human language, a language that might be buried deep in some only to be released when touched by artform.
CD: Have you always wanted to be an illustrator?
CR: No, I fell into a creative career by accident. I studied in Health Sciences and am a director at an extensive teaching and research hospital system in the US. I started to draw/paint when I was living in a remote village in the Selkirk Mountains of British Colombia, Canada. The power of healing through art had me hooked, so I continued my daily artistic practice to help me relax.
CD: Can you talk a bit about your artistic process?
CR: I try to maintain a strong sense of organisation in my artistic practice, which helps me be super effective and efficient in my approach when creating.
I have a full-time day job and an entire household to maintain, so every second counts. I never usually pre-plan anything; instead, I go into my studio and start to create, allowing my practice's flow to guide me. Sometimes masterpieces are born. Other times it's more of a learning process where I discover different mediums and how they react and play with each other; either way, I consider each time a valuable piece that helps with the overall puzzle.
CD: Do you go back and add to your works often? Or are you someone who knows when an illustration/piece of work is completely finished...
CR: My pieces are multi-layered and often take days to complete as I add details, but instinctively, I know when a piece is complete, and when I arrive at that moment, no additional revisions are made.
CD: What relevance do you think illustration has in today's world?
CR: I believe that illustration holds a strong voice in today's world. So many other types of 'voices' seem to be silenced by the culture of today's crowds. I believe it's still possible to communicate a message through the power of illustration.