There may be faults to be found with the ordinary fashion studio, but they are usually a too slavish imitation of the right ideal. The photographic studio, however, does not seem to know that there is an ideal, not only of technical achievement in his own art, but also of feminine elegance, and that this is composed of a number of details which change almost day by day and which he must endeavour, both by lighting and a clever angle of approach, to reveal and to accentuate.

But it is too much to hope that this state of affairs can continue for ever, and in any case the photographer will always have the two weapons of cheapness and quickness with which to enhance his products. It is impossible to combat him on the grounds of cheapness, since a passable photograph can be had for 10s. or less, and no drawing should be supplied for this sum. But the question of quickness seems so patently to be one of keenness, that it ought never to arise at all. The photographer may well be bound by a Trades Union or by the pressure of more urgent work, but the artist, at any rate while he is still a beginner, must not hesitate to work throughout the night in a determination to astonish and delight his client with his anxiety to oblige. I am afraid that the comparative slowness of the artist is a legend that has arisen because too often he has been unwilling to sacrifice a party or a cinema to a determination to execute an order in a given time.

A comparison between a good drawing and a good photograph must always be confused by any consideration of what is preferred by the actual public that is being catered for ; but in those magazines of good quality where, each at its best, they share equal honours, it is possible to see where one gains and where the other loses.

Biased as I am, I am bound to admit that nothing is quite so satisfactory, or so lovely either, as a photograph, very simply posed and lit, of a slender woman in a lovely dress, taken by Steichen or Scaioni. No drawing quite approaches this in perfection, alike for the absence of obvious virtuosity or irritating cleverness, as for the assurance it gives that here at any rate is a beautiful creature in a superb dress, whose perfection relies, so far as we can see, on no subterfuge whatever.

A striking disadvantage, however, of photographs is that they are dull. In a good magazine one is apt to forget this as the transition between drawings and photographs is so cleverly arranged. But, while any sequence of photographs is apt to be uninteresting, however individually good, there is something actually soporific in the succession of graduated half-tones that results. The shapes of

photographs, too, tend to monotony, as square, oblong, round and oval seem to make the sum of their variety, nor do they lend themselves to any originality of lay-out. Humour, wit and fantasy are denied the fashion camera except on the rare occasions when Miss Beatrice Lillie poses for it, but not the fashion brush. It is not possible in a photograph, as it is in a drawing, to concentrate on some particular detail of a dress, and to leave the rest undefined. It is beyond its power, too, to show, in a dark dress, detail that is of the same colour : drawn-thread work, seams, pin-ticks, go for nothing in a photograph of a black dress.

Groups of people on the golf-course, in a night-club, or anywhere you please, can be shown admirably in a drawing ; they look stiff and self-conscious in a photograph, particularly when men are included. It is practically impossible to take photographs of particular clothes in actual places, like a certain hotel in St. Moritz or in the Casino at Cannes, but special localities can be delightfully suggested in a sketch.

Perhaps the most convincing argument against a too extensive use of the camera is that, though the head of every artist may be filled with the vision of a thousand exquisite creatures, the world is practically devoid of their counterparts in flesh and blood. Avowed beauties, both theatrical and social, have been photographed wearing dresses of their own choice : chorus girls and debutantes have been persuaded to pose in dresses that were chosen for them. Women whose reputation for elegance is international have stood before the camera with supreme assurance. The photographer has done his best and so has his model, and yet something is always missing. Often the beauty and freshness remain, but nearly always they are bereft of the poise, the assurance, the elegance, the very quality that they were counted on to provide. There are perhaps a dozen women in the world, some of them society women, most of them professional mannequins, who survive this ordeal successfully, and one grows a little weary as, week after week, in dress after dress, in photograph after photograph, they charm us with their long fine bodies and their frigid, perennial smiles.

With so many advantages over the camera the young artist should not, then, feel discouraged, but should persevere with his self-training and start looking for work.

Fashion Drawing Sections

Part-1 Part-2 Part-3 Part-4