The personality of the buyer (so-called because it is her business to buy from the wholesale houses), means a good deal to the artist who has to sketch one of her dresses. About 90 per cent, of the buyers in a woman's store are women, and I should say that of these about 40 per cent, are inclined to be haughty and peevish, while here and there you get a buyer who is feared and hated by her subordinates and who is certain to be rude to you. I should imagine that a buyer is highly paid, for on her judgment and good taste entirely depends the success of the department. There is something rather mysterious about buyers because they are always called Miss and yet always wear a wedding ring. But notwithstanding this amiable subterfuge, by which she seeks to combine the title of her youth and the insignia of her maturity, one is obliged to respect a woman who has inevitably worked her way up to her position by her own energy and discretion and who is sometimes the one person in a big store who knows her business from A to Z. And you will do well to realise that, however inconsistent, unpunctual and unreasonable the buyer may be, you only stand to lose by being anything but extremely polite to her. All the authority and approval of the managing director and advertising manager will not avail you if you cannot please the buyer. It is quite impossible to impress her with a new technique or an amusing style ; if you cannot make one of her gowns look attractive and at the same time exactly like the original (often no mean feat), you are no good to her.

One thing you must be prepared for in big stores is a complete lack of co-ordination between the buyer and the advertising department. The latter will summon you in a great hurry by telephone to come and draw a number of things to go in the next day's paper, but you will find, on arriving, that they are not ready to be drawn, not having come down from the workrooms or from the wholesale people ; or that, if the clothes are ready, the only girl who can put them on has gone to her lunch ; or even perhaps that the buyer has been told nothing whatever about it.

Some shops like you to take away with you the clothes you are to sketch. Never do this if you can avoid it. Besides the inconvenience of transport, you will probably find, when you get the things home, that they do not fit either of those good-natured voluntary models, your mother or your sister, on whom you try them. Even if you have someone at home who can put on the dress, and even though it fits them round the bust and hips, you cannot be certain that the length is right. With certain clothes, too, you will find that there is no inevitable way of putting them on, several alternatives seeming equally reasonable and attractive. How should this scarf go ? This belt ? Does this collar lie down or stand up ? Do these ends tuck in ? A thousand questions arise. Even girls in the shop sometimes put on hats back to front and wrench them into an illusory smartness which can deceive you, but not the buyer. If you are drawing it in a shop and a

question of this kind arises, nothing is easier than to ask the buyer ; whereas it is much more difficult to clear the matter up over the telephone.

Another reason for not taking clothes home is the question of getting them dirty. Sometimes a dress has got soiled in the show-room from having been worn by the mannequin or handled by customers, and is dirty before ever it leaves the shop. But if this has escaped notice at the time you may easily be accused of having soiled it while you were drawing it. Nor is this entirely unreasonable, because once a light or delicate dress is handled or has been lying about in a studio it is quite likely to get spotted or torn.

But, having been firm on this point, do not accept the buyer's offer to arrange it for you on a stand. If I were obliged to give only one rule for successful fashion drawing, I think it would be, " Never sketch any garment on a stand or dummy." The most inept beginner cannot fail to be amazed at the lifelessness and clumsiness he can get into a drawing if he has sketched it in such a way. The commonest excuse for offering one of these horrible substitutes is the shortage of girls. " We haven't anyone free at the moment," they delight in telling you. Unless expressly summoned at some other time, you must always get to a shop at about ten in the morning and, if you have done so, this excuse is the veriest nonsense. It points to either laziness or understaffing but not, at that hour in the morning, to the large number of customers to be attended to. The buyer will think no less of you for insisting. Of course, the best plan is to make an appointment with the buyer personally in advance and to make a particular point of asking her if, at the hour she names, a girl will be free to put on the dress or hat. Any human being will do and nothing is to be gained by waiting till one of the mannequins is free, as a saleswoman makes just as good a model provided the dress more or less fits her.

Even when you have persuaded the buyer to " get one of the young ladies to slip it on," your difficulties are not over. Either she will have a great idea of her ability to pose, or she will be overcome by a tremendous sense of her own unworthiness. Either hallucination leads to fearful results.

Before starting the pose it is as well to seek a quiet part of the showrooms. A fitting-room is usually too small and involves having the model too near, but in drawing hats this does not matter quite so much. But comparative seclusion and privacy are important because, not only are you not pried upon yourself, but the model is unable to exchange nods, smiles and chatter, with her idle companions. You must impress on her that, although the dress she is wearing extends only from her neck to her knees, it is essential that she should keep still from tip to toe.

You must persuade her to stand " naturally " ; but the word " comfortably " will produce much the same result and will please her more.

A tremendous amount of trouble can be saved, both in the shop and after-

wards at home, if a little care is used when making the first sketch. If the girl can be persuaded to take a good pose (and to keep it), and if you succeed in getting it down fairly accurately on paper, you have little more to do, on returning home, than to trace it on to your drawing paper.

Fashion Drawing Sections

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