Meet the lady who could travel the world on glitter
STYLE MAGAZINE CHATS WITH THE PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THE WORLDWIDE BODY GLITTER PHENOMENON, JESS ILLICHMANN
“I could travel the world on glitter.”
Jess Illichmann makes this bold statement, sitting opposite me as glitter gently drifts through the air.
Better known as alternate portrait photographer Mad Dame, Jess is an eye-catching figure.
She insists on wearing her rainbow-coloured unicorn coat as we take her portrait, moving through the room with a naturally energetic step.
“Glitter is something people need,” Jess says. “It gets down into your soul.” Mad Dame is part of a “glitter revolution”, where people cover themselves in glitter for a photoshoot.
Toowoomba pin-up models Miss Diamond Divine and Scarlett Noir put the call out for the glitter sensation to come to the Garden City and so, in late May, Jess arrived with glitter and camera in tow.
“It’s really nice to be welcomed for your art,” Jess says.
Jess has been synonymous with Mad Dame for more than half her life.
The name began back in her mid-teen internet days using MSN Messenger, where her screen name was Madame (insert feeling here).
One day the word “Madame” was accidentally split into “Mad Dame” and the rest, as they say, was history.
The artist has come to accept that Mad
“I don’t think I know of anyone who travels the world glittering people for a job. MAD DAME, JESS ILLICHMANN
Dame and Jess Illichmann are in some respects one and the same, and to completely absorb herself in the creative process.
“You’ve just got to accept it’s come to you,” Jess says about creativity. “It’s chosen me, and I’ve accepted it.” Due to experience, Jess believes glitter can – and does – free or heal people.
“You’re drawn in by the prettiness and the sparkliness, but before you know it you’re thrown into this self-love awakening,” she says,
“I’ve watched women heal themselves of their anxiety through these shoots.
“I get down to their level and talk to them and distract them and glitter them, and then they feel amazing.”
When the clients see their photos, it’s as if they realise how beautiful they truly are, and it gives them a confidence boost.
Jess believes part of the beauty of the glitter movement has to do with the recent tearing down of stereotypical model appearances.
“People are realising you don’t need to airbrush, you just put things on like glitter or tattoos and you’re yourself.”
The other part Jess loves about her job is helping people celebrate milestones, like one lady who had just finished chemotherapy.
Mad Dame’s sparkly journey began back in September 2012 – the beginning of a glitter revolution.
Previously, Mad Dame’s portraits had included body paint and body art as well as a little glitter, but nothing to this extent.
In order to present it to the world “right”, Mad Dame kept the full-body glitter experience a secret until the release of a special glitter-themed edition of her magazine Damed.
“I knew it was going to take off,” Jess says.
“It was the first time the Australian market had seen anything like it.”