Swedish fashion illustration 1920–2020

19 June–26 September 2021
Fritt inträde

The Museum of Drawings offers a fashionable journey through the history of Swedish fashion illustration from 1920 until today. With texts, original drawings and printings we explore 100 years of Swedish fashion illustration.

Fashion illustration is a ubiquitous art form that assumes a varied range of expressions. The drawings in this exhibition not only channel what was trendy at the time they were created, but also peer into the future, making them both a reflection of their time and a description of that period’s ambitions and longing. They describe what colours and shapes felt fresh, joyful, or urgent at the time, and often include features that are predictive of future trends.  In other words, while these drawings show what was then in fashion, they are driven by a constant search for something new.

Fashion illustration mirrors the spirit of the times and its production of ideas, aesthetics, and values. It presents body ideals in a clear and stylized way, as well as the poses that best present each desirable shape. An example of this is the striking difference between the slender and straight 1920s and the graceful and curvy 1950s. Beginning in the 1960s and continuing, individualism gains prominence an entirely new way, but the ideals of each period continue as a leitmotif. In the exhibition, we will also be encountering the individual artistic temperament and unique expressions of various illustrators, which, at times, far transcend figurative illustration and extend toward the outer reaches of creativity.

The role of fashion illustration assumes various appearances from period to period, but always conveys a material, a garment cut, a silhouette, an attitude, or a feeling. In the beginning, fashion drawings had an advantage over photographs because due to the difficulty in optimally rendering photographs in print. Drawings, with their freewheeling stylization, could present a more striking alternative because their use of pens, crayons, and brushes could better evoke the texture and qualities of various fabrics and furs.

Fashion illustration can take the form of printed illustrations, reportage pictures, and magazine covers, or sketches and fashion collection presentations. The exhibition shows the variety of artistic expressions of this genre. Although our goal is to present a broad and relevant selection of these, it is hardly possible for any exhibition to be all-encompassing. We offer you a journey through time replete with nostalgia and recognition, as well as new discoveries and insights into the present. The chronological selections show how fashion illustration has shaped and designed our own time as much as it did 100 years ago. The exhibition includes magazines, prints, and original drawings from some of Sweden’s top fashion designers/illustrators over well over a century. Not all of these were based mainly in Sweden; many were employed in the international fashion houses of Paris, New York and elsewhere.

Participating artists and illustrators:
Göta Trägårdh, Mona Skagerfors, Britta Hedqvist, Brita Ternberg, Kerstin Heintz, Kerstin Lokrantz, Gunilla Pontén, Kerstin Thorvall, Brita Wassdahl, Gunila Axén, Katja Geiger, Lennart Ranghusen, Stina Hagberg, Jane Bark, Gunnel Götesdotter, Tippan Nordén, Mabel Åsbrink, Rohdi Heintz, Mats Gustafson, Yngve Eriksson, Tonie Lewenhaupt, Lovisa Burfitt, Stina Wirsén, Molly Bartling, Liselotte Watkins, Stina Persson, Cecilia Carlstedt.

Exhibition texts by Lotta Lewenhaupt
We invited Lotta Lewenhaupt, a writer and fashion journalist, to help explore the history of fashion illustration using her vast knowledge, and to comment on and elucidate many of the works in the exhibition. Lotta is one of Sweden’s most respected fashion writers and experts in this field and has worked in the industry since the late 1960s.

(Exhibition’s official poster: Cecilia Carlstedt)

(c) Göta Trägårdh. Photo: Designarkivet.


Fashion: Surface with depth – Halland 2021
This exhibition is part of the regional collaboration »Fashion: Surface with depth – Halland 2021«. During this year, fashion is explored all over Halland county – in several places, during different exhibition periods. Read more at www.konstihalland.se