How WWD Uses Fashion Illustrations in 2020

With the rise of digital and real-time news, one might be mistaken for thinking illustrations are no longer a mainstay of Women’s Wear Daily.

But Tonya Blazio-Licorish, an archivist at WWD, believes that illustration is “still very much alive.” “They are illustrating in some sense of the word. Anytime you do a graphic you’re illustrating. It’s the art of visual imagery. It’s just in another format,” she said.

And during the pandemic, especially the early months of March and April, the art and photo teams at WWD relied more on illustrations, mainly in the form of collages and graphics, than they had for some time as large parts of the world effectively shut down to curb the spread of the virus and it became almost impossible to produce shoots.

The same was true at many other publications, which were all forced to think outside of the box for creative alternatives to the usual photoshoots.

Tess Donlevie, a designer at WWD, said: “Right around when the pandemic hit I remember a couple times a week we were doing something in-house to illustrate it all.”

When it comes to pure fashion sketches, though, they are only used once in a while, mostly when there is an exclusive sketch from a designer.

“Now we do a lot of illustration, but it’s almost never fashion because we can shoot it all,” said Jenna Greene, deputy photo director at WWD. “There isn’t a kind of room for fashion illustration in the world purely due to how quickly we need to publish things.”

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While WWD rarely taps artists to sketch shows nowadays, Greene does recall a time a few years ago when they tried to link the traditional fashion show sketches with the digital age.

“There were a few years where we tried to pair up with various apps and artists that would go to runway shows and live sketch the runway looks on their iPad…which was always beautiful and led back to our history of illustration,” she said. “It just never catches on for some reason. I don’t know if it’s the way that people ingest information now. They want to see this detail of fabric or makeup or whatever it is. It’s beautiful and I think the way that we’ve gotten to bring it into today is more by the designer inspirations before fashion week.”


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