My art: Living Fashion – 1915 dress by Lucile

(Feeling deja-vu? I don’t blame you. I indeed posted a colored pencil version of this last Sunday, but gawd I hated it. It didn’t capture the spirit of Living Fashion at all. So I deleted that post and am posting the much-better digital version along with the original text! Enjoy this one better!)

A month or so I came across this tumblr called Draw This Dress (Fashion from Old People) by artists Emily Carroll and Vera Brosgol. Now, before clicking on it, I thought this tumblr provided photos of clothes for you to draw inspiration from, like a draw-a-long or something, but they don’t.

But anyway, what they do is take historical outfits normally displayed on a mannequin – you can’t wear these clothes on your actual body because that would damage them! – and draw them on cartoon women.

So, the figurative transformation of these garments from static (on display or in storage) to active (on cartoon ladies) really intrigued and inspired me, and I’m doing it too! I have hundreds of images of historical clothing in my collection, so I am probably going to be drawing these forever.

Here’s the first one!

The original
The original

This is called the “Happiness” dress. Now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was made in 1915 by Lucile, the professional name of Lucy Sutherland, Lady Duff-Gordon.

Lucile was the first person to give a live fashion show and the first English fashion designer (of any gender) to be internationally famous. She was known for making “emotional gowns” or “personality dresses” – outfits that expressed the personalities of her individual clients; although she didn’t originate this idea, she popularized it and it is still important to fashion designers today – and regular people like me! Lucile also made her corsets less restrictive, skirts higher, necklines lower, and lingerie less complicated.

She survived the sinking of two ships: the first in 1875 after visiting relatives in America, and the Titanic in 1912 with her husband. She would have died on the Lusitania, which was blown up by the Germans in 1915, had she not canceled her trip at the last minute.

You can read more about her on Wikipedia and on


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