NIGELLA Lawson personally requested a portrait, while other celebrity commissions have included a sketch of pop star-turned-fashion designer Victoria Beckham with her prized pet Bulldog.

Fashion illustrator Francesca Waddell’s delicate figurative drawings have now landed her a plum contract with international designer outlet The Outnet, for a collaboration with model and Chanel muse Laura Bailey. 

With Covid affecting photography shoots, the 44-year-old says more fashion houses, make-up brands and major publications are favouring a return to the whimsy and romance of pen and paint illustration.

The artist, who is originally from Forres in the Scottish Highlands but now lives in Glasgow, says she was hugely inspired by the women’s pattern books of the 1960s and 70s, often included in magazines, that were a mainstay in most people’s homes at that time.

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One of her very first commissions was for American luxury department store Bloomingdales after they spotted some of her early drawings on a blog in 2006.

Her work has now attracted the attentions of a very famous fashion house for a unique project that she can’t say much about, publicly.

The Outnet commission, which came in July, is a personal milestone for the artist as it is her first major piece of work since she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 in 2016. 

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She was asked to create a series of sketches of model Laura Bailey, who has launched a new fashion collaboration with the Outnet’s own label Iris and Ink.

She said: “I think it was that sign that I was ready to get back in the saddle and it’s been such a good job to do. 

“I think it was my simple black and white line work they liked, trying to capture the essence of your subject with as few lines as possible. 

“Their moodboard is very Film Noir and the collection is predominantly all black and they felt the simple line drawings would sit alongside the 
photo shoot.

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“A lot of the photo shoots have not been going ahead because of Covid. I know a lot of friends who haven’t been getting the same work but it will come round again.”

After a foundation course at Leith School of Art, the mother-of-two graduated in fine art and drawing from Glasgow School of Art and then spent a year travelling around Europe before deciding she wanted to get into fashion design.

She said: “I was always drawn to portraiture and life drawing and the female figure.

“I did an HND in fashion design at Cardonald and part of the course was fashion illustration and it was my favourite subject.

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“A friend asked me to do the illustrations for a collection of scarves. I had put my fashion illustrations up on a blog back in 2006 and Bloomingdales got in touch.

“They commissioned me to do make-up face charts for Lancome and Shiseido.”

After securing an agent the artist landed a 10-year contract as in-house illustrator for Stylist magazine.

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Since then she has worked for international magazines including Japanese Vogue and Hong Kong Tatler and says the Asian “glossies” are more open to illustration.

She was asked to create some sketches of Nigella Lawson to accompany Stylist’s iconic front cover where the chef was covered in salted caramel, fuelling ever more male and female fantasies.

“She asked for ‘one of Francesca’s paintings’. So hopefully Nigella’s got me on her wall.

“I’ve done Victorian Beckham as well for a feature on celebrity pets. It was her with her bulldog and I also did Cara Delevigne, who had a rabbit. I’ve done  bit of work with Millie Macintosh for her lifestyle brand.”

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The artist works from a studio she has created at the home in Glasgow’s west end she shares with husband Cliff and their two young daughters Scarlet, nine, and Lexi, seven.

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Her career came to a complete standstill after she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 in 2016. After successful treatment and a period of recovery, the disease returned and she underwent a mastectomy, shortly before lockdown him in March.

“I walked away from my work for a bit because I was focusing on getting better but it was there waiting for me.

“It’s all behind me and I feel like this is the new start and the work is flying in.

“It (the cancer) has changed my work. What was good about Stylist is, that it was very much about representing all women and diversity. That really instilled in me that I didn’t have these generic white models. 

“It’s a fantastic job. You never know what you are going to get asked to do.”