Ahlan!'s Exclusive Interview with David Downton

04 Oct 2012
By Ahlanlive.com

The Ahlan! fashion team caught up with iconic Paris couture illustrator David Downton before his masterclass at Harper's Bazaar World Of Fashion. He gave us some inside goss and top tips!

How are you finding Dubai?
So far it’s great. I only arrived last night but it’s my first time and I have a long list of things I want to do while I’m here.

How did you come to be a fashion illustrator?
It was a happy accident! I always wanted to be an illustrator but I didn’t intend for it to be in fashion. I was sent to Paris Couture Fashion Week to draw the designs by my editor one year and it just carried on from there. I was very lucky to have started at the top. My first show was Versace at The Ritz! I’ve never looked back!

What is the most memorable catwalk show you have drawn at?
John Galliano for Dior 1998. It was in the Opera House in Paris. He took over the whole building with tango dancers and a band. Champagne was served before the show even started. When the show started, the model ran up three staircases in a dress and when she arrived at the top the train was so long it was still at the bottom. She then ran down to a thunderclap smashing the champagne glasses as she went. The whole show was so dramatic it was incredible. I will never forget that.

Are there any particular moments that stand out to you?
I remember there was a quick U-turn after 1998 when shows became much more intimate in closed salons. I remember one particular Chanel show where we were sitting so close to the designs that I lost a pen in one of the dresses!

How does the process of drawing designs at shows work?
I used to draw the designs as the shows were going on but I came to realise I was missing too much of the show. I’m very lucky now I get invited to fittings and backstage by designers so I can have a more in-depth look at the designs and capture the details. If I can’t do that I will take photographs.

Today you are doing an illustration master class at Harper’s Bazaar's World of Fashion Event in Mall of the Emirates. Is there anything you look for in a promising illustrator?
I think talent is the most important thing, you can’t fake that. It’s also important to have originality.

You have also drawn many portraits, is there anyone you particularly enjoyed drawing?Julianne Moore and Tilda Swinton were fantastic. Tom Ford is also brilliant, he has such presence and  brings personality to my drawings.

What is next for you?
I’m working on two new books and the moment that will include some of my most recent drawings. It’ very exciting and I really enjoy it.