Kenneth Paul Block
1924 – 2009
Kenneth Paul Block’s incisive yet graceful line influenced over half a century of style and became the most sought after and influential figure in the communication of American fashion during the latter half of the twentieth century. Born in Larchmont, New York, Block trained at Parson’s School of Design before joining McCall’s Patterns. Here he found the atmosphere restrictive to his natural flair but one that allowed him to perfect the craft of ‘building’ an outfit. Block swiftly went on to join the legendary trade paper and fashion bible Woman’s Wear Daily for whom he became chief features artist and later for W Magazine (Fairchild Publications). Block’s influence was legendary and a key component in the success of many emerging American designers including Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Calvin Klein. Diana Vreeland, in her role as curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, New York, invited Block to illustrate the exhibition literature for a number of exhibitions including the highly acclaimed ‘The World of Balenciaga’ (1973). The poise and elegance of Block’s work, together with the attitude and gesture underlines his unique position as a twentieth century master of fashion illustration. Exhibitions include The Museum of Fine Art, Boston (2015) and The Society of Illustrators, New York (2020). Work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston; The Frances Neady Collection of Original Fashion Illustration, New York; The Victoria & Albert Museum and The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. In 2016, The Kenneth Paul Block Foundation was established, dedicated to the preservation, further appreciation, recognition and legacy of Block through international museum projects, lectures and education programmes.