How Pantone uses Fashion Illustration to bring Color to Life

Pantone and Fashion Illustration on the Spring 2016 Fashion Color ReportI’m always on the lookout for fashion illustration showing up in unexpected places. Recently I stumbled on an article called The 10 Hottest Colors for Spring 2016 on the fashion blog Who,What,Wear. Over the years I’ve seen many articles discussing the bi-yearly Pantone Fashion Color Report, but this one was different. They combined the colors chosen by Pantone and fashion illustration. Together they created something fabulous. 

Pantone and Fashion Illustration Present PeachPantone and Fashion Illustration by Dennis Basso

The Pantone Color Report is one of several Fashion Trend Reports used by the clothing industry. Textile manufacturers develop their fabric collections in these colors, then the designers use these hues in their collections, and in a few months later you see a lot of Pantone‘s seasonal colors in boutiques all over the country. Sometimes I like the colors, sometimes I don’t, but what stood out to me this time is the presentation. Pantone superimposes a fashion illustration right on top of the color chip. In some cases they’re using drawings from fashion illustrators like Matthew Houghton and Kira Kyrlova Basile. In other instances they collect illustrations from fashion designers like Pamela Roland, Nanette Lepore, and Yonna Baraschi. It’s a wonderful collaboration because fashion illustration is not as specific as fashion photography.  By using drawings to convey color Pantone allows us to use our imagination. How would I wear “Peach Echo” shown above? I could wear it in that fabulous print coat, as drawn, but it could also be part of a scarf or a printed skirt. Suddenly I see myself in peach. It’s improbably that I would have felt this way had I seen a model on a runway in the same coat.

A Pretty Drawing in Pale yellow
Pantone and Fashion Illustration by Nanette Lepore

Fashion Illustration and fashion photography are two distinct disciplines. Although fashion photographer have continually pushed the boundaries of creativity and possibility, they can do no more that record what is there. Illustrators, on the other hand, have the power to select or emphasize a particular feature; to prioritize figure over garment, or garment over figure; to translate a mood, an atmosphere, with humour or emotion…

(From 100 Years of Fashion Illustration)

In all these cases, fashion illustration helps to covey the importance of a color, like “Custard”. Normally I am not drawn to pale yellows, but in a loose, diaphonous spring dress? Now it’s growing on me.

Bright Blue Gets a Modern Mood

Pantone and Fashion Illustration by Whit NY

It turns out Pantone has been using fashion illustrations in their color reports for several few years now. This year the fashion illustration is front and center, right on top of the color. In years past it seemed less prominent, but they’re still there. Here are a few links if you’d like to see more colors and their corresponding fashion illustrations:

Pantone colors and Fashion Illustration by Kira Krylova BasilI found all these images on Pantone’s Instagram page. If you are inspired by brilliant color definitely consider following!

What do you think of the illustrations? Do you like how the colors are being portrayed in drawings?

Comments (2)

  1. September 19, 2015 - 5:23 AM

    Of course I love Illustrations!
    Even back in the 60s when I pored over that little Barbie Fashions booklet that came with fashions and dolls or with sewing patterns before they used photography. Remember paging through the big Butterick Patterns book at the fabric store? You’re right, illustrations let the imagination grow.

    I noticed Vanity Fair featured a fashion illustrator live sketching at NYFW this year.
    Maybe the tide is turning back a bit for fashion illustration. I hope so!