At Crosell & Co. located in the 900 Shops on Michigan Avenue, Chicago fashion collector Jeanne Steen showcased some of her highly collectable fashion illustrations. She also gave the attendees a little history lesson behind these flee market finds.
Steen had a love of art and sketching at a young age and when it came to how she started her collection a combination of things came together. Steen explained, “I got very very lucky and had a wonderful career working for different fashion magazines in New York, and when I used to go to Europe for the collections I would unwind at the end of the season by wondering around the markets, the flee markets, and I started to discover them and it was a combination of loves: art and fashion.”
After discovering these hidden treasures she would decorate her office at Elle with them. Then after moving back to Chicago to get married, Steen had a little French antique gallery and sold them there. “It was an opportunity to share this love of mine with lots of people.” When it comes to any fashionista wanting to start her own collection Steen is the woman to go to. Giving helpful advice like, just look around and pay attention to what exactly you respond to. Is it a specific era? Is it a particular illustrator?
Steen continues, “Really talk to who you’re buying from. Ask them if they’ll let you touch it. If they’ll let you turn it over.” Also keeping an eye out for marks of value such as: a signature and date.
At the event there were many illustrations by numerous artists like Tony Viramontes, Tod Draz and Alfredo Bouret. Along with seeing some original sketches by them the crowd got some background knowledge on their careers.
When it comes to Steen’s favorite illustrator it is an easy choice for her. “ I absolutely adore René Gruau and he is the defining illustrator of the 21st century.” she said. ” I think his sense of line is just incredibly compelling…He managed to work constructively and vibrantly from the 1950’s to 2013, when he passed away…He just defined post war glamor in Paris.”
The illustrations that Steen collects are timeless and the history she engraved in the minds of the audience was captivating.
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