Fashion and art are more in sync than ever, what with artists silk screening their work on T-shirts, designers enlisting illustrators to create graphics, and boutiques boasting galleries. At the crux of these coalescing worlds, but on another level altogether, is Cedric Rivrain. The Paris based fashion illustrator's intricate, enchanting drawings have captured the classic garb of Nicolas Ghesquière, Martin Margiela, Tao Comme des Garçons, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and more for avant-garde publications and galleries around the world. The likes of Kate Moss, Agyness Deyn, and Irina Lazareanu that sit before his precise eye find themselves glowing against dusky backgrounds. Currently working with Martine Sitbon and John Galliano at Christian Dior, we caught up with Rivrain to find out where his true love lies, in fashion or art?
How did you get your start in fashion illustration, and what world are you most tied to, fashion or art?
I started illustration when Yazbukey, the accessories designer, asked me to express her world through a drawing for a spread in Dazed and Confused in 2000. I love both fashion and art. I cannot really choose…that is why I do this job. I have no pretension in being an incredible artist. Illustration is a little like doing art (drawing is an art, isn't it?) but you dress up the subjects with your favorite gowns—very playful! But aside, I am developing my personal work. I am exploring drawing something other than models with beautiful shoes and pretty dresses, which I love, but I want to express myself in a more open way. Because that might be the distinction: the constraint. Art has none. It is for me the essence of art: freedom.
Describe your technique in drawing a model for a fashion spread.
I normally ask the models to come and pose for me; I do photographs of them but it is to get to know them better. I also have a very visual memory. I transcribe what I recall of their emotions, the expression in their eyes, their grace. I know almost all of the muscles and bones in the body thanks to my father, a doctor, who used to hang anatomic illustrations on the wall when I was a child. Then I use my imagination, a lot of fancy to create my imaginary world.
Your use of color is stunning. What is the meaning behind your color choices?
Colors in my work represent an energy, a tension. Colored lights are for photographs; I do not want to imitate a photograph. I want to draw what we cannot easily find in photography. I love playing with colors. I use paint, make-up…whatever I find with bold or subtle colors. It gives life to a drawing. Even when I do a black and white drawing, I need to bring color on it to wake it up.
How was the beautiful drawing of Kate Moss with a swan inspired?
I actually started with a drawing of the model Sasha P. dressed in Louis Vuitton, putting a necklace on a swan, acting like a kind of Alice in Wonderland but still being a sensual young woman. I proposed that drawing to Babeth Djian, the editor-in-chief of Numero, who liked it and came up with the idea of portraits of Kate Moss. I loved this vision; I thought it would be great to work on drawings with a fairy tale-ish feeling with animals and Kate who is herself such a legend, a myth, and in the meantime such a sensual woman. Sensuality is important to give a special flavor to drawings. After all, even though I love fairy tales, I am not a children book illustrator.