Sartorial Scribbling: Pencils in Fashion

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Prada S/S08
Prada S/S08Photography by Steven Meisel

To mark International Pencil Day, we look at some of our favourite illustrative moments in fashion

On this day in 1858, Hymen Lipman recieved a letter from the United States Patent and Trademark Office which granted the first ever official patent for the modern pencil (the sort with an eraser attached onto the end). While at AnOther we are already fully immersed in the art of fashion illustration – the work of artists like Helen Bullock, Clym Evernden and Linda Linko regularly appears on the site – today, we are looking at drawing from a different perspective. In honour of the momentous occasion that is International Pencil Day, we are exploring some of our favourite moments where fashion has met the indispensable tool.

Prada x James Jean S/S08
Trippy illustrations of Art Nouveau fairies decorated Prada's S/S08 collection, and the theme then seamelessly continued into their incredible advertising campaign. Japanese artist James Jean created murals for Prada's flagship stores in Los Angeles and New York, which were then repurposed as backdrops for campaign imagery and later became motifs used on bags and clothing. In addition, Jean created an eerily and psychadelic animation for the brand with director Jared Purrington.

Louis Vuitton A/W13 Menswear x Chapman Brothers
For A/W13, the Chapman Brothers moved their pencils away from drawing on orginal Goya artworks and instead drew bug-eyed monsters for Kim Jones to turn into Louis Vuitton prints. Inspired by children's books (albeit, terrifyingly creepy ones), the resultant works had the disconcerting appeal of Odilon Redon alongside the characteristic wit that the duo are renowned for.

Marni A/W12 x Brian Rea
Before Brian Rea collaborated with Marni for their A/W12 collection, he was the art director of the New York Times' op-ed page, where he was also responsible for illustrating the renowned Modern Love column. His naïvely charming line-drawings became jumpers and handbags for the Italian brand, creating a strangely perfect new genre of childhood-chic.

Raf Simons A/W15 Menswear
Raf Simons’ A/W15 collection showed men wearing labcoats that were scrawled on with the sorts of drawings you’d ordinarily find decorating a teenage boy’s schoolbag. And, according to Simons, that’s almost what they were – a throwback to his Belgian collegial celebrations, where students in long white coats embellished with slogans tested the younger students’ “physical and mental limits.”

Dolce & Gabbana A/W15
Dolce & Gabbana's celebration of family had 11 mothers and children on the runway and dresses printed in the crayon-drawings of a nursery school art class. Stick people, stick cats and stick houses were based on drawings by Domenico Dolce's nieces and nephews and became runway couture in a perfectly-timed Mother's Day spectacle.

Junya Watanabe A/W15
On first glance, the drawings that accessorised the arms, legs and necks of Junya Watanabe's A/W15 models looked like messily inscribed tattoos. However, on closer inspection, they were actually algaebraic calculations scrawled by Isamaya Ffrench – as though the girls were entering an exam where they hadn't quite memorised the formulas. An allusion to the show's exploration of "dimensionality through clothing," their inclusion was a novel incorporation of drawing into fashion.

Comme des Garçons A/W15 Menswear
Tattoo artist Joseph Ari Aloi (aka JK5) designed second-skin tattoo sleeves for the men at Comme des Garçons A/W15, a motif which continued into some of the suiting. The jackets that weren't tattoo-scribbled were decorated with the haunting charcoal drawings of South African artist Roger Ballen; it was a two-in-one of illustration-meeting-fashion.

Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal Couture Spring 2014
For their Spring Artisanal show in 2014, Maison Martin Margiela (pre-Galliano) turned Norman Keith Collins' tattoo designs into intricately beaded and embroidered couture pieces. Their reformulation of hand-drawn, stick-and-poke Sailor Jerry tattoos into exquisitely considered garments was re-interpretation of tattoo illustration at its finest.

Dries Van Noten A/W12 Menswear
Dries Van Noten's A/W12 menswear show incorporated a rainbow of colour courtesy of Dutch artists Gijs Frieling and Job Wouters. Painted, watercolour murals were interrupted by childish outlines of flames that gave a gleefully fresh tone to the collection – and one certainly worthy of inclusion for Pencil Day.

Claire Barrow A/W15
British designer Claire Barrow's drawings have become one of the defining characteristics of her designs; hand-painted, beaded or embroidered, included on everything from the backs of leather jackets to the fronts of gothic mourning gowns. One of our favourites is her A/W15 scarf; created in the style of a scribbled to-do list, it offers warmth as well as casual reminders to tidy up and buy more batteries. The perfect example of form meeting function.