Mats Gustavson by David Seidner

BOMB 27 Spring 1989
027 Spring 1989

Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

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Mats Gustavson, Lacroix silhouette for Vogue Italia, 1988.

Mats Gustavson, after formal training in the fine arts at Sweden’s National College of Art and Design, and the Dramatiska Institutet of Stockholm, came to fashion illustration with the feeling that he was doing something forbidden. “You must understand that in a Northern European country like Sweden, fashion is seen as something completely frivolous. Especially in the art schools, anything related to fashion or commerce is not even considered. It was terrible and provocative to do illustration after my serious years of education. My work, in many ways, as silly as it may sound, was a kind of rebellion.” That rebellion has brought Mats to the top of his profession where he reigns as undisputed master. Rene Gruau, whose illustrations eptiomized the chic, mannered fifties of Dior calls Mats the “only illustrator” working today. And Franca Sozzani, the Editor-in-Chief of Italian Vogue, where Mats’s work appears regularly, states: “With the strength of one line, he expresses everything.”

His work initially caught the eye of magazine editor Grace Coddington, and he began contributing to British Vogue in 1978. Then came a call from Alexander Liberman and an invitation to American Vogue, and New York, where Mats has lived since 1980.

One could place Mats’s illustration in the tradition of Scandanavian design: in his hands, the excesses of fashion become pure and simple.

—David Seidner

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Mats Gustavson, Comme des Garcons, Tokyo, 1989.

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Mats Gustavson, Nude for Marie Claire, 1988.

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Mats Gustavson, for Romeo Gigli, 1988.

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Mats Gustavson, for Romeo Gigli, 1988.

Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn by David Seidner
Fonssagrives Penn 03 Body
Sally Beers (Umbrella Raincoat) and Yorke & Cole by Ray Smith
24 Smith Body

Painting inspired by Sally Beers and Yorke & Cole by Ray Smith—from the Artists Choose Designers portfolio, where nine New York artists interpret the work of nine fashion designers.

BOMB Specific: Dear David: An Exchange by David Geers & Peter Rostovsky
Rostovsky 2001 1000

Great to see you as always. A few questions came to me, typically after all was said and done. I thought I’d send them over while our very interesting conversation was still fresh in my mind.

Three Works by Fred Valentine
Fred Valentine 1

Originally published in

BOMB 27, Spring 1989

Salman Rushdie, Polly Apfelbaum, Dennis Cooper, James Nares, Penny Arcade, Mats, Alexander Kluge, Robert Greene, Nancy Shaver, Abbijane, Terry Kinney, Michael Tetherow, Bill Barrette, and Carmelo Pomodoro.

Read the issue
027 Spring 1989