Portraits of a decade: A new book of historic illustrations offers decorators authentic Sixties inspiration
Friday 21 May 2010
During the 1960s women's magazines were booming. Woman, for example, was selling 3.5 million copies per week – the maximum its printing presses would permit. And – riding on the boom, was the art of illustration, which, due to the prohibitive cost of photography at that time, filled the pages of these publications.
Romantic fiction was also a staple, and the combination of the two disciplines resulted in a prolific output for the illustrators of the day, who specialised in depicting young women in passionate clinches with sharp-suited chaps on reproduction rococo beds; newlyweds sharing breakfast on classic Bentwood kitchen chairs; brooding Don Draper types, swirling whiskies on a Florence Knoll sofa, a voluptuous Joseph Henry Lynch painting, perhaps, symbolically in the background.
And now, a new book, Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s (Fiell), is the first collection of this gloriously stylised representation of the era. As the book's editor, Rian Hughes, writes in its introduction: "The artwork married an idealised and romantic image of high society ... often consisting of a young couple juxtaposed with decoratively drawn, stand-out design elements like plants, lampshades, elaborately wrought headboards, banisters or furniture ...
"It was a fantasy world completely at odds with a society still grappling with outside toilets, tenement housing and barely post-rationed food."
The book provides a wonderfully authentic snapshot of a design period so often reduced to cliché with mod-themed telephones, ugly orange wallpaper and space age shapes; the illustrations also provide a lot of shopping inspiration. Here's how to recreate some of the looks.
'Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s', edited by Rian Hughes (£25). To order a copy for £22.50 including free P&P from Independent Books Direct, visit Independentbooksdirect.co.uk or call 08700 798 897.
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