Red carpet, pink carpet… there’s a great appetite for glamour of the dress-up variety at the moment. The artist Piet Paris (Pieter ’t Hoen), whose work has always fed that appetite, is celebrating 35 years in fashion with an exhibition in his hometown of Amsterdam.
“Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it,” sings Madonna in her hit song Vogue; if only it were so easy. Just as ballroom culture preserves while transforming the attitudes and gestures of the Golden Age of fashion in much-practiced movements, so Paris often does on paper, drawing, cutting, gluing, spraying, painting over and over again, until the body animates the clothes.
Fashion is a universal language with many idioms. Paris’s work is distinguished by his marvelous graphic sensibility; his ability to enhance a look through a process of reduction, balance, and an inherent grasp of the concept of Ma (a Japanese notion of negative space). What I’ve always loved about illustration, and what drew me to Paris’s work in the first place, is that it leaves room for imagination. Minus the barrier of realism (though this can be used effectively in drawing as well), there are often many entry points into a fashion illustration. Just like a dream, it is an approximation, an interpretation, and usually an enhancement—if not an exaggeration—of a fashion statement.
In an age of endless scrolling, uncountable snaps stored in and displayed on screens, a drawing stands out. Served up by Paris, it’s the most delicious eye candy imaginable.
Here, the artist talks about his work, and why, as he says, “there’s always room for fashion illustration.”