Fade Away Girls

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I discovered Coles Phillips this morning, and immediately wondered how I’d been without. While he did many types of illustrations it was his fade away technique, marked by the use of foreground and background elements in the same color, that made him famous.

He came up with the idea one evening as he watched his tuxedoed friend playing the violin in a dimly lit room. While his friend’s form was not particularly visible in the darkness, it was suggested by elements such as the gleam of his shoes and the white of his shirt. Philips decided to apply this concept to his work, and came up with these striking designs:

Fun fact: Coles Phillips did a lot of advertising work for hosiery (and a lot of work depicting a woman’s ankles). One of the reasons for this is that in his early days as an illustrator, he worked in an advertising agency where the illustrations were produced assembly line style. Phillips was in charge of – you guessed it- the feet; and so, became particularly adept at the drawing of a particularly shapely ankle that gained him a great deal of jobs creating hosiery ads:

And, I just kind of want to be her:

Additional info and pictures, here

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3 responses »

  1. The Fade Away Girls bring to mind a more recent reference to Coles Philips work: the Victor and Rolf Autumn/Winter 2002-03 collection: LONG LIVE THE IMMATERIAL (BLUESCREEN). The Victor and Rolf clothing disappears on the models and becomes one with landscape/cityscape digital projections.

    Background becomes clothing.
    Clothing becomes Background.

  2. How very true! I think one of the reasons I was so tickled by seeing the Coles Phillips work was the sort of subconscious memory of that Viktor and Rolf show. I remember seeing it for the first time at their exhibition at the Louvre in 2004. I have a pair of tights and a skirt in that sort of blue, and it always makes me somehow think those parts of me will disappear, haha.

    For those of you who haven’t seen it:Click!

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