Illustrations by Leo Greenfield.  Clockwise from top left – Dani, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne – Young, Dad Smith st., Collingwood, Melbourne – Little Red Cap, George st, Fitzroy, Melbourne – Off to the Shops, Fitzroy, Smith st, Melbourne.

Prints, Smith st, Fitzroy, Melbourne – by Leo Greenfield

Black Cape, Safeway, Smith st, Melbourne - by Leo Greenfield

Who doesn’t love Bill Cunningham?  There is something so engaging about the simple art of capturing the crazy things people wear. (And if you’re a cute 80 year old man on a bicycle, even better).

Leo Greenfield isn’t 80 years old, but he does have a little bit of Bill Cunningham about him.

Leo is a Melbourne based illustrator who creates unique ‘street style’ illustrations, inspired by people he sees around town, and drawn from memory. He posts these drawings regularly on his sweet blog- a fabulous but unassuming online journal which, incredibly, scored Leo invitations to Paris fashion week last year!

Must admit I’m particularly drawn to Leo’s work not just because of his naive style and quirky gaze – as a resident of Melbourne’s colourful ‘Northside’, these characters just seem so familiar to me!  Leo has captured Melbourne’s trademark ‘hipster’ crew with such accuracy and affection!  I love it.

We asked Leo a few questions about his work -

How did you score tickets to Paris fashion week last year!?

I started emailing the fashion houses, it was a simple case of cold calling.

I was nervous when I pressed ‘send’ with my folio of drawings to the fashion houses of France. I didn’t have a clue how it would turn out. But within few hours emails started coming back with invites. For such large brands I couldn’t believe how personable they were, they had all looked at my work and were trying to find me a seat at their shows. It takes years to get into some shows, so as an Australian I couldn’t believe it when I was there in Paris waiting for the a show to start. A real highlight for me was the work of Damir Doma and meeting designers like Olivier Theyskens.

How do you remember the outfit details, do you take a picture or just commit them to memory?

I try to commit the outfit and person to my memory. I usually see people who inspire me at odd times, such as at the supermarket or while running late for work, so I can’t physically draw them on the spot! I just wait until I’m back at the studio and draw my version of these characters. I don’t use a camera, as they can make people shy, and I like the process of drawing from memory.

Do your subjects know you’re drawing them?

I usually draw strangers so I suppose they never know, unless of course they have exemplary internet stalking skills! I don’t attempt to create a photographic likeness but there have been instances where people have found themselves on the blog and had a “That’s me!” moment.

Leo has recently finished a commission for the Textile and Fashion Industry Council of Australia, and a series of his work created in Paris will soon be published in Collection Magazine… and in September he’s off to NYC and then Paris to try his hand at the international shows again!

Red specs, George st, Fitzroy, Melbourne - by Leo Greenfield