“One of the joys of reading is discovery.”
One of the joys of reading is discovery. Gaining knowledge on a particular subject is another reason to lose yourself in a book. Rarely in the genre of fashion books do we get to discover new or largely unrecognized talent. In the vast majority, fashion books deal with those who are deceased, already famous, or of the moment.
Menswear Illustration celebrates a segment of fashion that was once the norm until photography took over everything from local advertising to fashion magazines. For those who are reasonably or more educated about the world of fashion, the usual names always pop up when it comes to illustration: Gruau, Leyendecker, Rockwell, and then more currently, Antonio, Viramontes, Warhol, Eula, and Haines to name a few. To dissect this fashion art form even further, this book is devoted strictly to menswear.
Rarely do these books mention the names that might have been forgotten or were not the most ubiquitous players within this genre but Richard Kilroy makes sure to mention some of the greats within this sphere of illustration. He reminds us of Stravinos, Perez, Marjac, and Purvis. The brief history of this type of illustration is only the start of what awaits in the ensuing text. What happens next is the raison d’etre for this book: awakening the reader to an amazing world of illustrators than might be totally unknown in the U.S.
Menswear Illustration is an index, if you will, of the most celebrated contemporary illustrators known for their contributions to menswear. There are those who may not have achieved recognition beyond their geographic boundaries and yet are well known within that area. Nonetheless this will serve as a visual directory of those who have made names for themselves around the world. Each artist has a brief biography followed by examples of his or her work. You might find some of the works to be repetitive and some not quite to your tastes but what you will experience is the discovery and being exposed to new talent on an international stage.
There have been other books dealing with fashion illustration which have more or less followed the same format, but what differentiates this book from the others is that Kilroy is still actively engaged in and highly respected within the field and is thus able to offer us a more intimate and credible viewpoint of this particular world of illustration. Needless to say, the compiled collection of artists is his personal selection and yet represents only a microcosm if you consider the entire population of these artists.
The bottom line is that if you have a curiosity about illustration and more specifically menswear illustration, then this book is a must. Keep in mind that illustration in general is on the upswing again as a preferred way of representing fashion in both men’s and women’s collections.