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David Downton Portraits | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey

JOAN COLLINS BY DAVID DOWNTON, LONDON, OCTOBER 2014.

David Downton Portraits | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey
  • DAVID DOWNTON: PORTRAITS OF THE WORLD'S MOST STYLISH WOMEN
  • BY DAVID DOWNTON / LAURENCE KING PUBLISHING
Once upon a time, illustrators ruled the fashion roost, as masters like Antonio Lopez and René Gruau filled covers and pages of magazines with evocative sketches of the latest couture. And although the rise of photography effectively banished illustration from print publications by the 1970s, Englishman David Downton continues the tradition of putting pencil to paper (often showcased on his Instagram). Since attending his first couture season in 1996—where he watched Valentino Garavani fit a gown on Amber Valletta at his atelier—he’s been capturing fashion, and the beauties who wear it, in his breezy yet studied illustrations. This month, many of these images are brought together in David Downton: Portraits of the World’s Most Stylish Women, accompanied by commentary by the artist himself. “I like the images to float on the surface of the paper, as though they had just ‘happened,’” Downton writes. “Controlled spontaneity is what I am after.” 

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David Downton Portraits | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey
Joan Smalls, New York, 2013
 
ON DOWNTON’S PROCESS...
The illustrator likes to spend two or three hours at a sitting sketching (never letting his subject see his work), then takes a photograph or two and uses these as a roadmap for his final illustration.
David Downton Portraits | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey
Gillian Anderson, London, January 2014
 
ON THE ACTRESS...
“Beneath that celebrated cool, a spark that may yet ignite into a screwball zaniness.”

—David Downton
David Downton Portraits | THE VIOLET FILES | @violetgrey
Iman, New York, 2012
 
ON THE SUPERMODEL...
“In pictures, Iman has the carved, totemic look of a goddess; in life, her beauty is underscored by a kinetic energy and a laugh explosive enough to do collateral damage in a confined space.”
 
—David Downton