Drawing Cabaret Couture: Bringing Haute Couture Art Events Online

Drawing Cabaret Couture is bringing the world of haute couture fashion to artists with performative drawing classes and immersive art events across the globe. Founded by artist and set designer Matthew Lawrence and professional dancer and model Janet Mayer, Drawing Cabaret Couture works alongside some of the finest creatives in the fashion industry to bring visually stunning concepts to life by providing artists with high-quality classes and beautiful original resource material. 

As part of ArtStation Fashion Week, join Drawing Cabaret Couture on April 9 for a free 2-hour online drawing session through the Haute couture designs of  Johannes Warnke and set designs inspired by Gerhard Richter. Whether you’re a pro fashion illustrator or just want to try it out for fun, this is a great activity to practice drawing unique silhouettes and fabric.

Register for the event now to reserve your spot as space is limited.

In this interview, Janet and Matthew share more on how their collaboration started, their virtual over the past year and more exciting things ahead. 
Joan Miro inspired session. Photography by Mars Washington.

How did you meet and start collaborating together? 

We met as freelance artists living in the same communal warehouse in London – a live workspace for creatives.  At the time, Janet was working at the iconic Windmill Theatre in London with a residency show with her cabaret J’adore La vie, and was looking for an artist to create a piece of promotional artwork to advertise the show.

Taking inspiration from the hand-painted French Cabaret posters like the Moulin Rouge and The lido, Matthew created a stunning oil painting of the long-legged duo, and from then onwards we were inseparable.


The Windmill Girls, J’Adore La Vie. Oil on canvas by Matthew Lawrence.

What is the story of how Drawing Cabaret Couture was born? 

Drawing Cabaret Couture has evolved over the past couple of years. It was originally created from the back of a warehouse called the Labyrinth that was originally built as a pencil factory.  

As freelance artists and performers, in most cases, juggling a variety of jobs is key to obtain any sense of regular income.  One of these jobs for Janet was life modeling for art groups in London.  

“I was also working in the London life drawing scene at the time as a life model alongside my performing. When some of the groups found out that I was a showgirl, they started asking me to bring some of my costumes to the sessions.

As much as I enjoyed the classic nude sessions, dressing up and playing a character like I do when I was onstage was always so much more appealing and exciting to me. I absolutely loved it when artists would show me their works. It was like the French cabaret posters had come to life and I was one of the girls on them.”

– Janet Mayer

As we began to spend more time together, we realized that we have everything we need to start holding our own showgirl cabaret-themed classes together. Janet and her show partner Ami as models in their exquisite couture garments and Matthew as the artist-led host running the class.  We began our ‘Labyrinth Life Drawing’ classes once every 2 weeks gradually entering the London life drawing community.  A year later, we held our first immersive performative cabaret drawing class in London’s enchanting venue – King’s Head in Shoreditch.

Sign up for weekly live drawing here.

Tell us about one of your most exciting collaborations so far. 

Before the pandemic lockdown, we focused our energy on holding live immersive drawing events.  The three most memorable were at two stunning private member clubs in the heart of London: The Wellington Soho and The Kings Head in Shoreditch. Drawing Cabaret Couture took over these iconic venues with a variety of high fashion designers and themes, held across multiple floors and secret rooms for artists to explore throughout the course of the evening at their own leisure.   

Matthew installed bespoke set designs and art installations in each room to complement the new and exciting Haute Couture designs. They included captivating and diverse models and actors, ingenious and experimental live music from the talented musicians ‘The Circus of Bones’, and stunning performances throughout the night from the high fashion Cabaret J’adore La Vie. The events were a great success and an invaluable experience for us. We very much look forward to organizing more in the near future.

An immersive drawing experience at The Wellington Soho. Mars Washington Photography.

What have been some of your biggest challenges and learning experiences transitioning from live in-person sessions to virtual sessions? 

There were many challenging aspects of adapting to the virtual world. The biggest challenge was learning the technology to facilitate good quality in a rural area with poor internet.

We luckily escaped the city at the beginning of the first UK lockdown to Janet’s home farm in Shropshire. Our first online drawing class was in Janet’s parents’ 2x4meter Laundry room with terrible internet and a computer webcam! Very pixelated indeed. 

Gustav Klimt inspired session with couture by Genieve Couture. Photography by Mars Washington.

When we first started the live sessions, it was at a time when we both lost all of our performance and corporate work (like most artists).  Discovering Patreon was a game-changer for us, allowing us to simplify and realize everything we could offer online.  The weekly live drawing sessions and all the wonderful (and incredibly patient) patrons ultimately saved us in the most challenging times of our freelancing lives.  The best thing about the entire situation was the gravity of connecting artists across the globe. It was not just us as hosts learning new technology but many artists tuning in were also learning how to use such streaming platforms like Zoom. To most technophobes, this was a daunting task.

Kudos to everyone who stuck it through and found inspiration to create from these early classes.  The Drawing Cabaret couture community that has been created over the last 12 months has been astonishing. We love nothing more than to open up the chats and screens at the end of the week to have a look at everyone’s work and see how people are doing!

What can we look forward to from you in the near future? 

Drawing Cabaret Couture Studios is definitely on the horizon.  More elaborate set designs. Off-the-wall concepts. Exciting new talent alongside bigger names in fashion, J’adore La Vie models, and Cabaret performances. Collaborations with different art and fashion-based magazines & galleries, photographers and, all-round amazing creatives pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to inspire the world and open more eyes and minds to thinking outside the box.

Don’t forget to register for 1 of 2 free sessions with Drawing Cabaret Couture on April 9 here. If you can’t make it, the session will be available for free aftewards on their ArtStation store.

Follow Drawing Cabaret Couture on ArtStation to be notified when they release new courses on the Marketplace.

To subscribe to their weekly live online drawing sessions, check out Drawing Cabaret Couture on Patreon.

Find out more about ArtStation Fashion Week > 



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About the author

Sierra is the Editor of ArtStation Magazine.