Fida, the global online awards to promote fashion illustration and drawing, announced its 2021 award winners this weekend selected from nearly 1000 entries from 101 countries. A shortlist of 100 artists was communicated mid-March from which a quarter became finalists. Competition judges were headed by Fida brand ambassadors, Nuno da Costa, fashion illustrator for Vogue Portugal, and Francesco Lo Iacono, London-based fashion illustrator who reports on fashion week for L’Officiel. They were joined on the panel by industry professionals, Marcos Batuecas from Lacoste, Lucy Lyon from Tom Ford, Antonio Colomboni from Toilet Paper magazine and Fraser Clark from Wallpaper*, together with well-renowned illustrators, Chris Gambrell, Tina Berning, and Clement Louis.
Patrick Morgan, founder of Fida, delivered news of the winners via Instagram instead of during a glittering bash in a plush London hotel which was how the winners were celebrated in pre-pandemic years. FashionUnited spoke to Morgan to get his thoughts on this year’s submissions, and the return of fashion illustration to industry dialogue despite the difficulties that the pandemic has inflicted.
What were the panel looking for in this year’s submissions?
The criteria is very simple. Is the work interesting and has the work got something new to say? Is there a good understanding for drawing, composition, mark making, quality of final outcome and technique? Is the work relevant to the world today? And does it feel fresh? Did it capture your eye and imagination, making you stop to look?
Was the decision on the winners unanimous and what made their work stand out?
It was all very close this year because the standard of submissions was very high, with an array of different techniques and approaches to portraying the fashion image. We have, on previous occasions, had clear winners in some categories, but selecting the winner can involve a little bit of debating at the end.
Judge, Francesco Lo Iacono: I have had the honour to be a Fida Ambassador since the very beginning and I am more than happy and proud to see how fashion illustrators keep creating such powerful images. Fida is pushing fashion artists from anywhere in the world to rethink the impact of illustration within and outside the fashion industry. I can see the amount of time, research, hard work and creativity behind every single entry. Fida is celebrating not only the winners but anyone who keeps challenging fashion illustration and its possibilities.
Morgan: I think this statement really captures the essence of the Fida Awards. Fida is opening the discussion to a new dialogue with fashion imagemaking through drawing and painting. We want it to be re-understood in a new capacity, that it has deeper critical thinking. Through the introduction of Fida’s monthly talks, we are hoping to re-inform the industry and move it to a new space where the commercial/artistic market really looks at the work through a deeper lens. Fashion illustration is not an extra to the process but integral to the vibe of the brand or mood of a designer’s collection.
What are you most proud of at Fida?
Fida has created a true, honest community of fashion imagemakers who have become part of a bigger family. We love to see growth and some of the artists, since entering or winning, have gone on to really grow into something much bigger, which is fantastic. Fida is building new spaces and platforms to help fashion artists have more control over their vision through curated portfolios shown through our members’ website.
In January, Fida released The Fible, a luxury tome showcasing the rising talent of 2021 for brands, companies and fashion lovers to browse through while looking for inspiration or for artists to commission.
2021 Fida award winners announced
Each year there are four category winners and one overall winner. The Cover Award which reimagines a magazine cover went to the poetic and painterly imagining of a L’Officiel cover from Martina Cambrini; the Moment Award which celebrates an artist’s ability to create work which resonates and captures our collective imagination went to Manon Cardin. The Icon Award celebrating a figure who has changed the industry was earned by Seungwon Hong for his painting of Karl Lagerfeld displaying dynamic experimental brushwork. The Muse Award recognizes the special relationship between designers and those who inspire them, and the unanimous winner in that category was Carmen Vega Ruigómez for her painting of Adut Akeche. This year’s overall winner, who got the most votes by far, revealed Morgan, and whose piece really stood out for its interesting composition and linework was Manon Cardin.
Featured artwork from Fida: Header, Carmen Vega Ruigómez, followed in order by Manon Cardin, Seungwon Hong, Martina Cabrini
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry