For fans of the, until recently, rather neglected area of fashion illustration, FIG is not a fruit but nirvana. The splendid Fashion Illustration Gallery has built up a comprehensive portfolio of work from the art’s 20th-century heyday and also by current practitioners who are putting it back on the collectors’ agenda, including David Downton, Richard Gray and Tanya Ling, wife of the gallery’s founder, William.
Usually, it operates on a by-appointment basis from the Mayor Gallery in Cork Street, which can be a little intimidating for browsers unsure of what they want to see. Life will be made much easier on Saturday December 17, when FIG is holding a one-day open fair with a huge range of excellent and very collectable work. For serious collectors, pride of place must go to the original gouaches of covers that Réné Gruau, perhaps the most revered 20th-century illustrator, produced for International Textiles magazine as part of a contract that lasted from the 1940s to the 1970s. They will cost from about £7,000 to £15,000, but originals from current artists will start from £500 and prints from as little as £200.
Other past favourites include François Berthoud, Christian Bérard, Mats Gustafson, Antonio Lopez and even Andy Warhol, balanced by new names including Daisy de Villeneuve, theatrical props maker Gary Card, and Jason Brooks, who will set up a portrait booth at the Fair, while Tanya Ling will be making poster drawings and David Downton will be giving a talk at about 1pm. The Fair takes place from 10am to 5.30pm in the upstairs studio at Rupert Sanderson on Bruton Place, London W1, so as well as drawings customers can treat themselves to some beautiful new shoes.
Pictured: René Gruau, cover for International Textiles No 326, 1960; ink and gouache on paper.