I love pretty fashion sketches, especially the lingerie drawings. It’s one of the reasons I collect vintage lingerie ads — for all the lovely illustrations.
I don’t precisely know why lingerie makers and catalog marketers gave up on the beautiful illustrated ads… My guess is that the general demise of Golden Age Of Illustration was greatly assisted by the increase in cultural acceptance of fashion photography — and the resulting desire for photos of scantily-clad women. Whatever the reason, I mourn the loss of illustrated lingerie advertising.
Whatsmore, I believe that everything I love about illustrated lingerie ads is the stuff that marketers should note because it sells actual lingerie.
When I look at illustrated ads featuring lingerie, I see myself in that dream… No matter how fanciful.
That bosom can be my bosom. No thoughts of reduction or plastic surgery enter my mind. The flimsy floating full skirts are the stuff I can feel, regardless of the lack of any wind. The illustrated woman’s wispy waist isn’t like that of a (heavily doctored) model’s — I don’t feel I need to achieve anything — I don’t feel the need to compare myself to any ideal, just insert myself in the fantasy.
Illustrations, no matter how stylized, are seen as just that: illustrations. It’s art, fantasy. It’s not some standard or preferred female form; it’s a preferred ideal of what I want to feel when I wear the garments.
Illustrated ads do not run the risk of starting or perpetuating body dysmorphia or forms of self-hating body loathing because we know they are illustrations — no one looks like that. But we can pretend to…
We want to feel like the imaginary woman in her dreamy, romantic, sexy world. Illustrations help us suspend our disbelief, forget about some specific model, hired for her freakish abnormal appearance and further freaked by airbrushing and digital manipulation. We don’t want to worry about her and her ilk. Worry about what her appearances and celebrity do to ourselves and other women. We just want to be in a fantasy — a fantasy that features us as we see ourselves when we don our frilly, floaty apparel and pretty underthings…
Isn’t that the optimal way to sell lingerie?
Even illustrations of apparel on hangers makes you covet and buy — and you know no one is fancying that’s how they’ll look; it’s about how they’ll feel.