Jean-Philippe Delhomme thinks the people in the art and fashion worlds take themselves: “I think it’s a good thing to make some humor,” the French satirist says with an impish grin. Since the mid-1980s, Delhomme—a small, bespectacled man who can’t remember if he’s 51 or 52—has worked as an illustrator, gently skewering the pretentions and grandiosity of fashion editors, art patrons and designers. His most recent project, a blog called The Unknown Hipster, chronicles the adventures of Delhomme’s bearded, buffoonish alter ego as he hobnobs with the rich and fabulous.
Dressed for Art, an exhibition at the French Institute Alliance Française’s gallery in New York City, presents Delhomme’s more recent illustrations. The show, which runs through April 14, includes portraits of fashion luminaries, runway illustrations, large-scale paintings and lots of social commentary. One doodle depicts a shirtless Karl Lagerfeld, the powdered-ponytailed designer at Chanel, wearing heavy chains and carrying a sign that says “AAAAAAART.” Another shows a woman in low-rise jeans lifting a tangled collection of rags from a roadside bin; the caption: We found this amazing thrift store in a little desert town where they had early Rodarte!
Not all of Delhomme’s drawings are drenched in irony. “My paintings from the fashion shows, those are not so funny,” he says. Actually, they’re quite lovely. An illustration of a model wearing an embroidered gown by Alexander McQueen, for example, captures the late designer’s poetic romanticism.
For Delhomme, fashion is inseparable from the society and culture that consumes it: “I am interested in fashion as a whole scenario, not just the clothes, but what it tells us about people.”