Sitting around a long mass of desks at Pine Street's Darlinghurst studio, the students and I were instantly mesmerised by Peter Dwyer's confidence, charisma and instant likability. Having 20-something years in the fashion illustration business, we all knew that this guy was not only someone who knew what he was talking about, but lived it.
He set out a three point aim for the evening:
1 - To create a garment that is fluid and not static
2 - To represent such ideas with very simple lines
3 - To incorporate our own aesthetic
After receiving a mountain of photocopied handouts illustrating models, Peter went through and explained what each pose would be good for and why - "This one could be all about the 'swoosh' of a skirt; the dress dragging from behind; the emotion of the garment; the sexually aggressive woman..." His very detailed and expressive way of describing clothes and the characteristics of the fashion figures was highly enjoyable.
He constantly dropped information that is probably general knowledge in the fashion world, but was very interesting to us in the enthusiast or curious categories. Facts such as the fashion figure is often drawn 9.5 heads tall and the average person is only 8 heads tall (that's why models are actually aliens as they are the fashion figures proportions), also that the fashion illustrator needs to not only know how to draw the super human figure, but what the garment would look like on an ordinary person, so that a production sketch can be passed to a pattern maker in realistic proportions.
Some people opted for a street-ware look, others for a more traditional look and some illustrated an interest in an Asian, edgy aesthetic. Peter decided we were ready to incorporate gouache into our drawings. He demonstrated how, with just a bit of shading on one side of the body, and a lot of white space, life and colour can be breathed into the figures.
Mine turned out very alien looking, however the general standard was very impressive. I asked the class what lead them to the workshop and this is what they had to say:
"I just wanted to do something new... for a change!"
"I am a student from architecture. I relate buildings to clothes for people... they are both protection and shelter..."
"I was volunteering for Smart ARTS and I'm also studying drawing and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn a new style..."
"I'm into art and a friend saw this workshop on the Youth Week website. It was easy to get here after class as I go to Sydney Uni..."
"I always draw fashion doodles and wanted to learn the techniques. I really wanted to learn the art to fashion..."
"I'm interested in the drawing of the body in fashion and the fashion aspect of drawing. I really wanted to know the proportions..."
"I was interested in being a fashion illustrator and wanted to learn a bit of structure."
*Peter Dwyer is a lecturer at Sydney's Whitehouse School of Fashion, and is an expert in fashion drawing and design.