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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn


Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Family of Fashion Illustrators




A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my mother and came across these fabulous prints which I felt you all might enjoy.

My grandfather and mother were both fashion illustrators. My grandfather, Frank Nichols, became quite well known for his art and eventually opened up an art school, here in Tennessee. His house always smelled like coffee and turpentine. Visiting, as a child, I was fascinated by his studio. There was a life sized mannequin in the sudio, which always frightened me at night, and various paintings at different stages of completion. His favorite mediums were oil (which he used on most of his landscapes and portraits) or pen and ink. Though his oil paintings are still some of my most prized possessions (and which provide the backgrounds for many of my finished styling photos), I was always most drawn to those long, lean black and gray ladies of his fashion illustrations.



He specialized in textures-furs, lame', leather. I was always astonished how sleek and perfected his tiny brush could make these things appear.

My mother inherited much of his talent and was trained to be a fashion illustrator herself. She was gorgeous, simply built for a career in fashion. Starting out as a model, her runway experience helped her to develop an eye for design and accessorizing. She began to draw for Levy's department store in Memphis in the mid 1960's.

When I was a kid, I naturally had the very best in paper dolls.
I would just have to tell mom that I wanted 'that dress' for my paper dolls and she'd bang it out in mere minutes. When I watched 'The Ten Commandments', she drew me a 12 inch Egyptian doll that had an array of fascinating 'Hollywood' inspired costumes and a stunning black bobbed haircut. Somewhere along the way, I became obsessed with 'Gigi' and my talented mother was quick to create a doll that was the height of Minneli-esque, Lautrec-inspired french fashion.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little of her artwork with you here. I plan to frame some of it...I love the fact that you can still see her penciled in notes and those of the editor. Shoes were her specialty. In these days, where everything is done with computers, we sometimes forget the effort that was put into making clothing appealing to the average shopper. Pen and ink did that best, if you ask me.



















Thanks for visiting,

Ashley

15 comments:

❀Young Vintage Girl❀ said...

They are just fantastic! :)

bookyeti said...

Treasures! LOVE!

Vivcore said...

How cool are these!! It must be thrilling having works like these and knowing it was your family that created them!

Heichelbech-Weill Genealogy said...

Amazing images and amazing family history. I also have a family of artists and people who come to my house can't quite believe that so many of my paintings were done by my family members.

I love the old fashion ads from the 1920s to the 1970s. They have an air that is totally lost in today's world. Thanks for sharing these.

Spiffy Tomato said...

Ashley, those are lovely. I collect old sewing patterns because I love the art on the front, and that's what these pictures remind me of. Thanks for sharing!

angie.a said...

These are so beautiful! I love the shoe illustrations especially. Thank you for sharing!

Deb Di maggio said...

OMG you are so lucky, I would have loved that. These are real treasures you have.

I Wonder Wye said...

Cool post! A friend of mine's mother was a fashion illustrator and I loved to watch her work at her drafting table. My dad was an architect and mom was a watercolor artist (hobby-professionally she taught school), so I also had many 'custom' works that I also treasure...

Miss Amethyst said...

WOW!!! truely amazing

Funky Punky said...

Wow, these are amazing!!! Your mom and your grandad were very talented :)

Bitten Usagi said...

That's so awesome!! So much talent. I had to draw a fashion illustration for a commercial art class once and it was so hard! They made it look easy! :)

Piroska said...

How fantastic! Your mother's illustrations are so classy and chic. Please tell me you still have the paper dolls she drew you as a child!

casey said...

These are gorgeous! How neat you've been able to get hold of some of these family artwork pieces--plus it's a fascinating look at fashion history. Thank you so much for sharing these!

Lacy said...

Thank you for sharing, Ashley! How neat!

PinupMama said...

I think its beautiful that you celebrate your mother in that way!!!

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