Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Art Of Being Well-Dressed

It happens now and then that you will find an entry on HTBS that only vaguely has something to do with rowing. I don't mind posting these entries, as long as they are interesting (and I, of course, decides what is interesting). Here is an e-mail that HBTS's Tim Koch in London sent this morning. Tim writes:

It's nothing to do with rowing but anyone interested in history generally or classic clothing in particular may like to know that the illustration you used in your item, Spring is Here, is probably by Laurence Fellows (1885-1964), the 'master of menswear illustration' who worked from the 1920s to the 1950s. I say 'probably' as he inspired a few imitators. He was born in Pennsylvania and studied art in the United States, Britain and France. There is a splendid article on him on by Bill Thompson, click here to read the whole article. Thompson says:

"... it was in the 1930s that Fellows found the niche that would shape the lives of dandies for the next 80 years: fashion illustration. Though he contributed to Vanity Fair, McClure’s, and The American Magazine, among other publications, it was men’s fashion where he was most in demand, and Apparel Arts, aimed at the tailoring trade, and Esquire were his showcases.

Fellows ..... could draw fabric, plain and simple. His fabric had weight, heft, drape, texture, and sheen. His flannels, worsteds, tweeds, and linens, his barathea and velvet and twill were all fabulous.

He also defined a very specific, very masculine world. Unlike today’s fashion magazines, Apparel Arts didn’t dictate fashion trends by using underfed models in unwearable suits. It showed what was already being worn by the well-heeled, trend-setting folk. Fellows’ genius as an illustrator lay in his ability to depict them in their everyday activities. Whether they were traveling the world, hosting dinner parties, hunting grouse, or just lounging around the penthouse or club, Fellows somehow made their rarified universe accessible. Ordinary folks could look at the
illustrations and say, “I could wear that.”

Strangely enough, Fellows is not to be found on Wikipedia, but if you 'google' him, you will get several hits. Illustrations by Fellows, or his replicators, are to be found on some HTBS's entries:

The Hierarchy of Blazers at Henley Royal (29 March, 2010)

...and a Dress Faux Pas (28 March, 2010)

Well-Dressed Oarsman (28 August, 2009)

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