Way back in the mists of time, before the dominance of photography, illustration was the main mechanism by which the eager public of readers were disseminated images of fashion. Along with a few others, the Japanese magazine commons&sense remains one of the advocates of illustration as a creative means of sharing fashion ideas.
The current issue contains no less than three feature articles in which the work of top fashion illustrators is used as a vehicle to encapsulate key items from current luxury collections. It’s easy to see how many designers may be more than happy for their work to be conveyed in the form of a drawn image rather than a photographic one. After all, the practice effectively shares a very direct link with the design process itself given that the sketch is, for many designers, the starting point to a collection. Photography may offer certain benefits in its apparent realism and representational qualities, but illustration in many ways brings additional freedoms; the potential of getting in touch with the spirit and ideas at the heart of a garment or collection that are much more directly portrayed than through the photographic tableaux.
Amongst the stories using illustration in the current issue, Chick Tactics, with illustrations by Mamico and fashion selected by Masumi Otsuji, leap off the page in a psychedelic riot of Op Art patterns and stylised petite chics wearing the latest styles from Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Giorgio Armani or Dries Van Noten.
The Tokyo-based illustrator is known for her tautly poised images of women drawing on the iconography of Pop culture in all its manifestations. Everything from historic illustration styles to fanzine culture are worked into a unified style. Her big-eyed Edie Sedgewick characters draw on anime characters or cult Japanese toys from the 1970’s as much as iconic pop cultural figures from bygone eras for their lineage.
Mamico’s unique style has gained her an international cult following on numerous different circuits and it’s plain to see why she is constantly busy, flitting between exhibiting her work or contributing to a new slick coffee table book and undertaking commissions for fashion brands such as Anna Sui, hip boutiques or record labels.
It’s also the perfect editorial choice for this particular issue of the title that devotes a lot of attention to what could loosely be termed girl-on-girl power. And, with predictions of a return to 60’s style and an ongoing preoccupation amongst designers with that strange era on the cusp of the early 1970’s with all of it’s heady sensuality and naïve decadence, it’s also a timely image for the fashion that Mamico has been asked to illustrate. But, for fans of any form of the graphic arts, this makes the current issue a particularly collectible one. Fortunately Mamico’s feature is no less than 18 pages so even those who have no real interest in the other fabulous features contained within will find it well worth a look.