“Art collecting doesn’t need to be complicated, pretentious or expensive,” says Londoner Janina Joffe, of her recently launched online fashion illustration and art platform, East of Mayfair.
East of Mayfair is an e-commerce gallery designed as a six room “virtual house.” Legendary illustrator Pierre Le Tan took the grand, bohemian flavor of London’s Spitalfields area as his architectural reference point, in particular the Denis Severs House, created by its owner as a “time capsule,” each room reimagining life through the 18th and 19th centuries.
“It’s artwork within artwork, whereby the aim was to blur the separation between gallerist and artist a little,” muses Joffe. “I actively want to change people’s ideas towards the term ‘collecting’ by offering something accessible, fun and beautiful.” Equally playful and prolific: expect to find the famed fictional narratives from the archives of legendary illustrators René Gruau and Antonio Lopez, from works on paper, prints, and photographs, including Lopez’s Fashion of the Times: Biker and Bill Blass, to Gruau’s famous ’80s Dior ad for Rouge Baiser, to works from newcomers, such as Natasha Chambers.
Joffe attributes the resurgent popularity of fashion illustration to the medium’s “ability to be more directly artistic, creative and personal in its approach in a time when photoshop acts as a buffer between model, photograph, edited image and public audience.”
She adds, “I would buy works by every artist on the site even if I didn’t sell them myself.” A favorite of ours is a portrait of Andy Warhol by Antonio Lopez for Interview, done in 1978. “The connection between Antonio, Andy, and Interview is so specific to that era,” notes Joffe. “This portrait really sums it up in the most fascinating way.”
And with time spent garnering knowledge at Guggenheim Venice, Christie’s, and Drawing Fashion at the Design Musuem, in Joffe’s dream world, the site would be relocated to a real townhouse.