Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What He Saw Today, and Last Week, and Last Month...

When our friend Jane Folds invited us to a lecture and show at the National Arts Club by illustrator Richard Haines, we jumped at the chance.  Haines is currently causing a stir with his street style blog, What I Saw Today.  Now before you say "oh, not another person with a street style blog", let us point out that Haines draws what he sees, often telling a story in just in a few quick but well chosen lines.

That's Jane above, instantly recognizable in her signature heart shaped glasses.  (An artist in her own right, only days later Jane had a quite inventive piece in the Round Table show at the NAC which we were lucky enough to see -- a marionette entitled Erotic Picasso. Trust us when we say that the name says it all!)

We were stopped by this handsome devil, artist William Varner, who introduced himeself as a graduate of the School of Visual Arts who attended at the same time as our very personal favorite illustrator of all time -- Joana Avillez.  Small world.  We had a look at some of William's great illustrations (on his iPhone, of course - oh, modern times!), and could see why he was interested in this program.
David Zyla, chair of the Fashion Committee at the NAC, led the first part of the presentation by asking specific questions of his guest, followed by Qs and As from the audience.  Might we add that the room was packed to the gills with a standing room only crowd of artists and illustrators and fashion types of all ages.
What I Saw Today is "a visual record of cool stuff guys wear and other things that inspire me".  That's Richard above, in the black shirt and glasses, holding the mike.
A wonderfully self-deprecating and down to earth speaker, Richard Haines moved to New York in the mid-1970s to become an illustrator, but somewhere along the way got lost and became a men's fashion designer.  Now in his sixties, Richard expressed some surprise at the twists and turns his career took before he was able to return to his roots.  He is now illustrating full time.
Richard, who recently moved to Brooklyn, is influenced and inspired by the people he sees there every day.  Their casual and personal sense of style is immediately evident in his work.
His subjects range in age and style.
"Louche" was a word he mentioned that intrigued him, and seems to define the style of many of his subjects.
David still focuses on men's style, but the occasional woman catches his eye and graces the pages of his blog.
A couple of his illustrations combine guys and chairs in a light-hearted manner.  As an artist would, David spoke about the importance of "line" in what attracted him to his subjects.  His current attraction to chairs lies in their lines.

Some pictures feature strong colors; others are more monochromatic.

His ability to shift focus from street style to the salon is evident in these following two rather dreamlike visions. Doesn't this one remind you of the well known photograph of the author Colette?

Love this Great Gatsby / David Hockney couple.

We were seated behind Angelica Melendez. (Since we were in the last row, we were technically sitting behind everybody that evening. The one advantage to the last row? You don't have to take off your hat when the show starts.) Anyway, we loved Angelica's glasses! It turns out that she and her friend with whom she was sitting -- Thomas Raab -- both work for one of our favorite designers, Donna Karan. Angelica is creative director for Donna Karen Intimates and Thomas is a designer for DKNY Jeans (mens).

Richard Haines said he was recently inspired by chairs and had started a series of drawings of chairs.
They really reminded us of the illustrations and style of the some of the artwork in the New Yorker.
Prada approached Richard to sketch some of the designs on the runway and then published his drawings in a limited edition book.  Sweet!
These illustrations depict well groomed sophisticates, a far cry from the simple toned-down types in his 'hood whose images often populate his blog.  His ability to switch back and forth effortlessly shows the breadth of his talent.  The recycled paper, complete with print from its previous life, is deliberate.
The Prada designs are apparently available on a line of Hanes tee-shirts. Hanes by Haines, get it?
We're looking forward to future Fashion Committee events.  Hope you are too!


  1. Id love to hang out with you in New York for just one day!!

  2. Definitely looking forward to more! Thank you, once again, for this lovely report. xxoo

  3. I checked out Richard's blog and his illustrations are quite amazing. He is very skilled at capturing the essence of someone's style and posture in just a few lines. I especially like the rear view of the guy in the orange tank top and jeans. William Varner IS a handsome devil!

  4. Jean that scarf is so friggin cool.