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The Line of Beauty
Fashion illustrator Bil Donovan '77 sketches a collection by couturier
Ralph Rucci '80

A couple of years ago, illustrator and FIT faculty member Bil Donovan, Illustration '77, asked couturier Ralph Rucci, Fashion Design '80, if he could document one of the designer's shows from backstage, using brush and ink. Rucci loved the resulting images so much that he commissioned a portfolio of male nudes, which he silk-screened onto a series of gowns. In the fall, these two FIT alums collaborated again on another unconventional project.

Rucci chose not to show at New York's fashion week. Instead, he unveiled his collection with a private show in his SoHo atelier in front of a select audience of buyers, press, and clients. He also invited Donovan, telling the illustrator,
"I want you here as if [painter Francois] Boucher were doing a collection
for Givenchy."

Given his own table on the edge of the tiny catwalk, Donovan faced the formidable challenge of rendering models and looks in seconds. "You don't have time to think," he says of the experience. "You can't be too precious. There's no time for doing the model's features or details. You just have to let the energy into the drawing and trust that the spontaneity will be communicated in
the line."

Hue thought Donovan's sketches communicated quite well. We present them here, with commentary by the illustrator.

All works approximately 14 by 22 inches; pen, ink, and gouache; 2010.

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