SARTORIALLY SPEAKING – THE ART OF LAURENCE FELLOWS

Written by  on February 23, 2013 

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Laurence Fellows (1885-1964) was one of the most distinguished and revered menswear illustrators of the twentieth century.His distinctive fashion illustrations exemplified a certain aspirational lifestyle prevalent in the 1930’s, a period in which he found his true niche with his visual documentation of the sartorial preferences of a group of very distinguished-looking gentlemen.His ‘French Vogue’ approach to his art  was as unusual and ground-breaking as his choice of subject and a total revelation,  particularly for  American audiences of the day.Eventually Fellows would go on to  make an everlasting impression on aficionados of style and exquisite taste everywhere.His unique ‘Continental’ technique was undoubtedly formed by his experience of studying in Europe; originally he had trained in illustration at the  Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, but refined his craft with further specialisation in England and especially France, at the ‘Academie Julien’ under J.P. Laurens.Upon his return to the States at the start of the last century, he moved to  Philadelphia where he lived and worked largely in advertising – he was a consummate draftsman (although he adopted a rather simplistic style in this field).He really came into his own however, in the early 1930’s when he turned his hand to  far more detailed fashion illustrations for women and men, although his true métier was for masculine subjects.At the time, this particular genre was embryonic and there were very few practising men’s fashion artists; Laurence Fellows used this to his advantage and filled a gap in the burgeoning world of fashion illustration/advertising; he was equally fortunate that ‘Esquire’ magazine launched during this period – a style-bible exuding masculine sensibilities, who used his work in dazzling colour, two-page spreads for many years.Fellows  influenced many of his contemporaries with his signature paintbrush/graphics bravura and his work graced the pages of many of the top style periodicals of the day, including ‘Vanity Fair’, ‘Esquire’, ‘Apparel arts’, ‘Judge’, ‘Life’,  ‘Cosmopolitan’, ‘The American Magazine’ and ‘McClure’s’.Laurence Fellows died in 1964 and  was finally inducted to the Society of Illustrators Hall Of Fame in 2009.His idiomatic legacy survives via  his wonderful sophisticated masculine fashion-spoofs of a by-gone era, which continue to  exert an animating affect on men (and women) of style and substance everywhere.

Text  ©copyright Gary Alston 2013

House Of Retro/Gary Alston makes no claim to the ownership of images shown on this page.

Category : RETRO-SPECTIVE!

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