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Hywel Davies Takes a Peek Into Top Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks

In fashion, inspiration comes from various sources: a morsel of fabric, a trinket, a sepia photograph and, yes, usually a pencil and paper. Fascinated by the journey from concept to runway, Hywel Davies—a lecturer at London’s esteemed art college Central Saint Martins and the ex-editor of Sleazenation—has compiled Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks, a 208-page tome that collects the wonderfully revealing scrawls and illustrations of 50 top-flight fashion designers. The book covers industry greats such as Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano, as well as up-and-comers including Bora Aksu, Aitor Throup and Fred Butler, exhibiting a wide variety of brainstorming techniques. Dries Van Noten, for example, collects photographs, embellishments and fabric swatches, while Chanel’s resident genius Karl Lagerfeld rarely touches any material, filling pages upon pages with deft, effervescent watercolor sketches. But while every designer has a particular way of working, there are many things that unite them—a good proportion work at night, while most shun technology, favoring physical vehicles for their artistic journey. Most importantly, each designer has their own, unique character that they create and design for, according to Davies. “It’s a way of making the path a bit easier, so it’s not too abstract. It’s a way to connect to the reality of it all.” Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks is published by Laurence King on September 29. Read some of our favorite excerpts here.
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