This year’s Fida Awards ceremony took place at the Conde Nast College of Fashion and Design in London last Tuesday, only its second live awards event in the organization’s four-year history due to pandemic disruption. Simultaneously shown via Zoom to all the international members who could not be present, the event was introduced by co-founder Patrick Morgan who began by reflecting on the successes of the past year. Among these were Fida artist collaborations with Halston, NYC’s National Arts Club and Fashion Institute of Technology, Italian luxury accessories company Rodo, jeweler Elsa Peretti, Fashion Scout and London Fashion Week, as well as the recent launch of a virtual fashion art marketplace.
Among the jurors this year was Connie Gray, founder of Gray MCA, the leading international art gallery in the specialist field of original fashion illustration focusing on the 20th century masters who this year presented both Only legends with the work of David Downton, Artist in Residence at Claridge’s Hotel, and The art of elegance, an exhibition of illustrations by Dior Artist in Residence Bil Donovan. Said Gray, “Fida provides an inspiring platform that unites and celebrates the diversity and vitality of contemporary fashion illustration. Through attitude, texture, subtlety and line, fashion illustration today is more versatile and exciting than ever.”
The aim of the awards is to elevate the field of fashion illustration and to highlight the great role illustrators play in the creative arts industry. Other members of the judging panel included Betty Morgan, Director Kenneth Paul Block Foundation; artist Howard Tanguy; Courtauld Gallery fashion historian Rebecca Arnold; the contemporary illustrators Piet Paris; and Jessica Bird; and CFDA member designer, Jeffrey Banks, who echoed Gray’s commitment to the field of fashion art. “I have always believed in the art form known as illustration. “Despite the world being so engaged in technology, for my money, nothing beats the artistry, elegance and beauty of illustration,” he said. “We are on the precipice of a new and exciting renaissance in the interest in illustration. From the historic legacy of illustration giants such as Alphonse Mucha, Toulouse-Lautrec, Aubrey Beardsley and Maxfield Parrish, to JC Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth, Kenneth Paul Block and Antonio Lopez, Fida is leading the next generation of illustration. greatness.”
The evening was to develop into joyful mingling, professional gatherings and champagne. But first to the purpose of the glamorous central London collection, and the first category, the ever-popular Portrait award. Morgan described portraiture as “a space that fashion illustrators have mastered and where they really are leaders.” He described the winning work as a somewhat controversial choice according to the judges’ feedback before presenting it to Hana Tischler for her charcoal portrait. “It wasn’t typical fashion, but danced between art and culture,” Morgan said, adding that “it had the command of a National Geographic cover.”
The beauty award also strayed into experimental territory won by Belen Rodriguez for her defiantly dreamy pink watercolor portrait. Caroline Riches was on hand to receive her Still Life Award and explained how, as a fashion educator at Leeds University, she celebrated her 20th anniversary as a teacher by painting a ghostly rendition of a toile by the designer Rei Kawakubo that she deliberately left unfinished. The multidisciplinary award went to French illustrator Ludivine Josephine, whose charming animation was a tribute to femininity and the art of dressing up.
Student awards went to Parsons School of Design student Leo Qian, SCAD’s Jiyoung Park and to Cailyn Kurdys for her interdisciplinary textile entries combining quilting, beading and patchwork.
In the end, the controversy emerged victorious as Hana Tischler’s poignant portrait also earned her the overall winning prize of £10,000. Said Morgan, “The jury wanted mold breakers, not artists who fit in with the establishment.”