Elements of Style

Interview: Skirts Illustrated

Fashion illustrator Rongrong DeVoe’s career has taken her from video game design to Viktor & Rolf.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen September 1, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Rongrong DeVoe’s hand won’t stop shaking. Yours wouldn’t either if you’d just spent a couple of hours sketching live portraits at a Neiman Marcus event alongside famed make-up artist Tim Quinn. “I like it, though,” the fashion illustrator said when we caught up with her in the Galleria area afterward. “It’s fun to meet people.” Sore hands are just part of the gig.

DeVoe, a native of China, worked as a video game artist in Shanghai before moving to New York in 2009 to pursue a masters in illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology, settling in Houston a few years later. Today she’s lent her talents to major fashion houses like Viktor & Rolf and Giorgio Armani, as well as L’Oréal, and this month, she’ll travel back to New York to sketch backstage at runway shows. The busy DeVoe was also handpicked (by a panel of teen girls, natch) to illustrate a teen-oriented book of modern-day paper dolls for Scholastic, to be released early next year. 

Has focusing on fashion illustration changed your sense of style?

It’s changed it a lot. I used to wear a lot of clothes that didn’t look that nice, but since I started working with fashion bloggers and fashion brands, I’ve watched what they wear and learned from that. 

Is there any particular feature that you like to draw?

I really love to draw faces—faces and clothes and a big smile. I check out a lot of fashion bloggers, and I noticed for example if you smile you get more followers. No one wants to follow a mean face. It’s all about the attitude.

What inspires you when you are illustrating? Do you take notes from your own closet?

I definitely will think about what I like. I like a lot of leopard or animal prints, and I like bright colors, so I do a lot of flowers—anything that looks happy.  

What’s your favorite store in Houston?

I’m a big fan of Langford Market.

What’s your favorite article of clothing?

I recently am obsessed with Anthropologie—I love everything they sell. I bought a dress there that is ivory white but it has watercolor splashes around the waist, so I love that. It fits my occupation! 

Are there any trends you don’t like?

I’m not very good at minimalism. I like color. I don’t like all black, all day. That’s what everyone in New York wears, especially in the winter. I’m glad people here wear a lot of colorful prints. That’s more my style.  

What’s the biggest difference in how people dress in China versus here?

Chinese people are very concerned about what other people will think. They don’t want to be too flashy. Here it’s the opposite mindset. The Chinese philosophy wants everybody to be the same. That’s why I came here. I can’t blend in. 

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