Blair has breathed life into some of the must-know names in fashion and beauty right now, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Prada. Her talent has been recognized by Oscar de la Renta, Harper’s Bazaar, and international magazines W Korea and Vogue Korea among many more. Blair’s illustrations exude an expressionist take on contemporary high fashion. Largely influenced by high fashion photography, Blair takes these fashion-forward photos into a whole new realm of layered watercolors and messy smudged lines. Featuring luxury designers in most of her illustrations like McQueen, Louis Vuitton, and Prada, Blair transforms their designs into a personalized expression of them, almost as a response piece. Blair describes her process as spontaneous. She primarily uses watercolor and a small sketchbook. Her focus is to draw the viewer into this new quirky, abstract, and chic world of fashion.
I first found out about NYC-based fashion illustrator, Blair Breitenstein when I saw the amazing portraits she did for Carolina Herrera in celebration of International Women’s Day. I enjoyed reading about each inspiring woman and the causes they champion… and of course one of my favorites out of the nine portraits was of Carolina Herrera herself.
You’ve created illustrations featuring pieces by fashion houses such as Oscar de la Renta, McQueen, and Louis Vuitton. How did you first get started as a fashion illustrator?
Fashion has always been my favorite thing to draw- I’ve been drawing based on magazine pictures and editorials since I was in kindergarten.
Watercolor is your primary medium for creating your illustrations. What is it about watercolor that made it your preferred medium?
I fell in love with watercolors because they are so fluid. They help dictate the way the drawing is going to be- they add a touch of unknown to every drawing. They are unpredictable in a good way.
I love the abstract, fun nature of your work and how you translate the world of fashion into illustrations. What are some of the essential tools that you always find yourself reaching for when working on a commissioned piece?
I always use multiple mediums I think it adds a tangible texture that is unexpected in fashion illustration.
From a portrait of 60’s icon Twiggy to a modern-day portrait of Carolina Herrera. Who is your personal style icon?
Every drawing I create posses a hint of Brigitte Bardot.
What fashion house are you most inspired by?
This is hard…. maybe Prada…
Your work has been featured in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and W Magazine Korea and Vogue Korea. What was it like when you saw your first feature in print?
Indescribable. It was everything I had ever dreamed of holding in my hands. My first time in print was Harpers Bazaar Mexico 2014.
From Top Left: Beleza Dourada, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah, Carolina Herrera de Baez, Karlie Kloss, Carolina Herrera, Tracee Ellis Ross, Glenn Close, Constance Wu
For International Women’s Day, you created a portrait series of influential women for Carolina Herrera which featured notable women such as Carolina Herrera herself, Oprah, and Reese Witherspoon just to name a few. What was it like working on this project?
I don’t normally do portraits but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to celebrate National Women’s Week. It was an intimidating project but I was happy with the outcome.
Out of the nine portraits, you illustrated. Did you have a portrait that meant the most to you as an artist?
Mrs. Herreras meant the most to me because it was the first time I feel like I achieved likeness, but they were all an honor to create.
You recently collaborated with By Terry Paris to create a custom eyeshadow palette. What did you enjoy the most about the experience of creating custom illustrations at a live event?
I rarely do in-person events, so it is always refreshing to engage with people who love illustration as much as I do! Meeting the people that come to live events is the best part.