To Richard Haines New York City is an endless runway. First moving to the city to pursue illustration, he instead found a successful career as a fashion designer. Throughout his career in fashion design, he worked for a multitude of renowned brands such as Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis and Bill Blass. During his time designing, he developed a keen eye for the often overlooked details of form, fabric and an innate sense of how a garment falls on the body. This laid a foundation for his illustration work, and after years immersed in the world of fashion design, his career has come full circle; he has emerged as one of today’s most sought after fashion illustrators with clients such as Prada, Dries van Noten, Saks, Tiffany & co, and now for Paris Fashion Week…
You are known in particular for your fashion illustrations. How did you started to sketch fashion?
As a child I was always drawing – it was a way to escape and create my own world. I was 11 when I saw fashion illustrations in the New York Times – it was a report on Givenchy during the Haute Couture shows (1963) and I became obsessed. Those drawings transported me to another, more glamorous world, and drawings still do that. That’s why I love drawing for Paris Fashion Week – it connects me to the collections, and to Paris.
You collaborated with several prominent designers. May you mention one of your favorite?
I always say I love every collaboration because it’s wonderful to work with other people and bring ideas together. Because this is Paris Fashion Week I will say my collaboration with Dries Van Noten, where I did a series of drawings he used for prints for his menswear collection. It was wonderful to spend a week in Antwerp at his design studio, and thrilling to see the result of the work on the runway.
What is your rapport with the past?
I like to study the past, to look for threads of humanity that still resonate today. There is something very human and tender about a drawing from Bérard, a cartoon by Daumier, the characters of a Zola novel. I don’t believe in living in the past, or in nostalgia, but there are elements of the past that inform and ground me so that I can move forward.
And with the future?
Well, the future is the unknown, which is very exciting. It’s one reason why I love fashion. There is always an optimism for another collection, another season, another chance to redo. Now there is a feeling of life after lockdown – what will it look like, what will people want? I loved drawing JW Anderson’s Loewe and Guillaume Henry’s Patou collections because they look to the future. People will want to feel ‘seen’, dramatic, joyful, and I think those clothes express that, and that’s the future.
Who has been your professional role model?
Professionally, I’d say Bill Cunningham. He had an endless curiosity that kept him young – I love that enthusiasm for people, style, fashion.
What is your approach to social media?
I actually like social media because of its speed and access to information. I’ve connected with wonderful people with similar interests, and that wouldn’t have happened without it. For an illustrator it’s really the portfolio. Young illustrators contact me to look at their work and their accounts are private and I’m so surprised. I always tell them to open their accounts, let people see their work, don’t be afraid, connect, just don’t do everything for ‘likes.’
What would be your personal mantra?
‘To thine ownself be true.’