See a treasure trove of vintage fashion illustrations that are going on sale

Check out our gallery of 30 years of classic fashion illustrations to be sold by Gray MCA in September.


London-based fasion illustration specialists Gray MCA is holding a selling exhibition of original fashion illustrations from Post War 1940s through to the 1970s. The exhibition takes place in September to coincide with London Fashion Week.

The Drawing on Style exhibition will include more than 40 original works by some of the leading illustrators of the time from Britain, Europe and America including René Bouché, René Gruau and Carl ‘Eric’ Erickson.

Designs are sourced from publications including British and American Vogue, Harpers & Queen, The Sunday Times, Frau im Spiegel (Germany) & Jardin des Modes (France) as well as advertising work for L'Oreal and other famous names in Haute Couture such as Nina Ricci.

There will also be a selection of original work by designers including Dior, Zandra Rhodes and Barbara Hulanicki of BIBA (right

“For too long fashion illustrators & their illustrations have been seen as a secondary art form, no matter how beautifully executed the image,” explains Connie Gray of Gray MCA. “More often than not, fashion illustrators were more widely known for their advertising work than they were for their work as highly skilled fashion illustrators.

"Though their style was familiar to the reader and their names published internationally alongside their illustrations, they have never been recognised as true artists. It was almost a secret world in which only those working in the industry knew and admired each other.”

See more of the artworks for sale by using the controls right and above.

Right: BIBA - Wedding Dress II (original fashion sketch) by Barbara Hulanicki (1936 - )
Watercolour on paper, signed, 43 x 65 cms

“Over the years, each illustrator developed their own personal style, often using wit and charm to distinguish themselves from their competitors," says Connie.

"Almost all were products of the most respected art schools of the time.  To be a truly great illustrator, they needed to understand not only the life form but also the process of designing, cutting and finishing a garment. The fall of the fabric, the cut of the cloth - the ability to translate what they saw into a work of art that would sell a thousand frocks!"

Right: Original fashion illustration for German magazine Frau im Speigel by Gerd Grimm (1911 - 1998)
1947, Indian Ink & Watercolour, signed, 42 x 30 cms


"Tragically, few original fashion illustrations survive today," continues Connie Gray continues: With the need for speed in production and printing, illustrations were rarely kept. Many were damaged in the printing process and then thrown away, considered worthless once the image was reproduced to print."

"Those that have survived have become internationally collectable as original and historical art works that truly caught the elegance, attitude and style or the time."

Right: Original fashion illustration for Nina Ricci by Maynard
1946, Ink & Watercolour, signed, 48 x 32.5 cms

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Gerd Grimm was the only German fashion illustrator to make his name internationally during the 1940s.

Pre-war, Grimm was Germany’s most recognised and commissioned fashion illustrator. His work regularly appeared in the leading fashion magazines of the time - Die Dame, Silberspiegel and Elegante Welt.

Following the end of WWII he emigrated to New York and his style was immediately admired by the editors, regularly receiving highly acclaimed commissions from Harpers Bazaar, Vogue and Esquire.

On his return to Germany in the 1950s he continued to enjoy success on both sides of the Atlantic receiving commissions from many of the leading advertising agencies and fashion publications of the time.

Right: This signed original fashion illustration for German magazine Frau im Spiegel, dating from 1947, has a price tag of £5,000.


British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes is recognised as one of the new wave British designers who put London at the forefront of the international fashion scene in the 1970s with her unique use of bold prints, fiercely feminine patterns and theatrical use of colour.

Her wedding designs from the early 1970s were iconic designs of pleated ruffles & soft fluid lines.

She continues to design for the rich and famous around the world, from royalty to rock stars.

In 2003 Zandra set up the Fashion & Textile Museum, dedicated to showing the work of fashion and textile designers from the 1950s onwards. In 1997 she was made a Commander of the British Empire in recognition of her contribution to fashion and textiles. In 2014 she was awarded the highest accolade of Dame.

Right: Original wedding dress design by Zandra Rhodes (1940 - )
C1972, Pencil & Watercolour, signed & inscribed, 30 x 21 cms


The sale takes place from Thursday 11th - Tuesday 16th September 2014 at Gallery 8, 8 Duke Street, St James’s, London. Prices will range from £300 to £10,000.

Right: Original fashion illustration commissioned by Harpers & Queen, by Angela Landels (1935 - )
C1972, Pencil & Wash, signed, 49 x 38 cms

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Right: Original fashion sketch for BIBA by Barbara Hulanicki (1936 - )
1968, Watercolour on Paper, signed & inscribed, 43 x 65 cms


Right: Original fashion sketch of Audrey Hepburn by Barbara Hulanicki (1936 - )
C1960’s, Watercolour on Paper, signed, 55 x 42 cms


American illustrator Carl ‘Eric’ Erickson is recognised as on the of the most influential fashion illustrators of the 20th century.

He was a leading name in the field of fashion illustration and advertising for over 35 years. He had a great understanding of fashion. He deployed an acute observation with an elegant line; loose brushwork and colour washes that achieved a great variation of line and a distinct, seemingly, spontaneous feel. His preferred medium was charcoal.

Right: Awaiting To Embark, an original project for American Vogue by Carl Erickson (Eric) (1891 - 1958)
C1940's, Ink & Wash, signed, 35.5 x 34.5cm

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Right: Original fashion illustration by Todd Draz (1917 - ), commissioned for Sunday Times fashion page of a model wearing a spanish fashion design of a checked suit & boot covers
C1960's, Ink on Paper 60 x 38 cms


Included in the exhibition will be several sketches by one of the most famous names in fashion, Christian Dior.

Illustrated on original Lucien Lelong letterhead from the renowned couture house Lucien Lelong, these exceptional drawings show the emergence of the legionary ‘New Look’ silhouette, the nipped in waist and longer skirt that was the essence of simplicity.

Each one is inscribed with notes from Dior, two of the drawings are inscribed with Praline, the nickname of one of the post war period’s top models, Janine Sagny-Marsay, a favoured model of Dior and later Pierre Balmain.

Right: The Original fashion drawing Praline by Christian Dior (1905 - 1957)
1944, Initialed & Inscribed CD, oen and ink on cream Lucien Lelong headed paper, 28 x 22 cms


Right: Original fashion illustration of Dior model Christine Tidmarsh by Eva Aldbrook (1925 - )
1956, mixed media, signed, 54 x 36 cms

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Barbara Hulanicki, the internationally known fashion designer, was originally a fashion illustrator who, having completed her studies at Brighton Art College, worked as a respected fashion illustrator until opening a mail order clothing company Biba's Postal Boutique with her husband.

The business was an overnight success and was overwhelmed with orders for a sleeveless gingham shift dress that featured in the Daily Mirror. Hulanicki also became known for the outfits she designed for Cathy McGowan, presenter of the TV pop music show 'Ready, Steady, Go' and in 1964 the first BIBA boutique opened in Abingdon Road in London.

Women, mostly under 25, flocked there to buy Hulanicki's mod clothes in dark colours such as mulberries, blueberries, rusts and plum.

Several illustrations and original designs by Barbara Hulanicki will be included in the selling exhibition.

Right: BIBA - Wedding Dress I, an original fashion sketch by Barbara Hulanicki (1936 - )
C1968, watercolour on paper, signed & inscribed, 56 x 43 cms


Right: Original working fashion illustration for a US magazine by Brian Stonehouse MBE (1918 - 1998)
C1970's, charcoal, signed & inscribed, 64 x 46 cms


Right: original fashion illustration for 'Jardin des Modes' of a model wearing Courrèges by Gustav Falk (1926 - 2011)
C1965, Ink, Pencil & White Gouache, signed, 64 x 48 cms

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Right: original fashion illustration by René Gruau (1909 - 2004)
C1960's, Ink, signed, 50 x 64 cms


Right: Original fashion illustration of a model in cocktail dress and pillarbox hat with veil by René Bouché (1905 - 1963)
C1950's, ink and pencil on paper, signed, 61 x 27 cms


Right: Original advertising fashion illustration of a woman with an umbrella by Pierre Simon (1907 - 1999)
1950, ink and gouache, signed, 35.5 x 27 cms

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