Friday, April 24, 2009

A Vivid Life: Kenneth Paul Block Dies at 84

Photo By: Kenneth Paul Block
"Babe Paley in Mainbocher and Amanda Burden in Sarni"
Another sad passing. More from here.

Longtime WWD and W magazine illustrator Kenneth Paul Block, 84, a champion of the art of fashion illustration, died Thursday at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

The cause of death was complications from a fall he suffered earlier in the week, according to his nephew, Steven.

Men wore fedoras and women still wore gloves when Block joined Fairchild Publications Inc. in the Fifties. And none of that dash was lost on Block, whose fondness for ascots, cigarette holders and impeccable jackets never waned, nor did what one friend described as his Dorian Gray-like youthfulness. But his studied drawings were never strictly surface, always managing to capture the gesture at hand, whether it be the swing of a skirt or the tilt of the head. “I was never only interested in the clothes. I was more interested in the women in the clothes,” he once said.

One of three boys growing up, Block was the kind of kid who appreciated the chicness of his fashion editor aunt Elsie Dick’s zip-front fur jacket. He combed through Harper’s Bazaar magazines in the attic of his family’s home in Larchmont, N.Y.

At Parsons School of Design, he was drawn to what he described as the “world of immense style,” introduced by interior designer Van Day Truex. After graduating, Block’s first job was sketching for McCall’s Patterns, a post friends said he would rather have omitted from his résumé. But Block went on to cement his presence as a leading fashion illustrator during his reign at Fairchild Publications, which lasted until the fashion illustration department was disbanded in 1992. Through it all, he swiftly, yet fastidiously, captured an array of subjects with a cool and detached manner, jetting to Europe for the couture shows or sauntering just up the street to sketch unsuspecting notables at lunch (martini in hand to mask his intentions). All the while, he fulfilled what he once described as a childhood quest “to draw glamorous women in beautiful clothes.”

1 comment:


Every fashion sketch class I took, taught me to model my images after his!