Grazia Middle East - - THE HOT STORIES -


FOR AC­CLAIMED FASH­ION IL­LUS­TRA­TOR ME­GAN HESS in the Mid­dle East. Not only has she been an­nounced among the

160 es­teemed au­thors fly­ing in for the Emi­rates Air­line Fes­ti­val of Lit­er­a­ture 2019, but she’s also un­veiled her AW18 cam­paign for The Galleria Al Maryah Is­land, Abu Dhabi. “I’m very much look­ing for­ward to go­ing back to The Galleria,” Me­gan tells Grazia of her first stop when she re­turns to the UAE in March. “What I think is so unique and so lovely about

The Galleria is the fact that there is such an in­cred­i­ble mix of both fash­ion and din­ing – and I think that’s what changes the ex­pe­ri­ence of shop­ping.” First, how­ever, a word about her new book, Iconic: Mas­ters of Ital­ian Fash­ion…

Your new book ex­plores the cre­ations of Ver­sace, Dolce & Gab­bana, Fendi, Valentino, Pucci, Prada, Miu Miu, Mis­soni, Gucci, and Ar­mani. What is it about these de­sign­ers that in your eyes makes them iconic?

When I was cre­at­ing the book, nar­row­ing it down to 10 Ital­ian de­sign­ers was ac­tu­ally very dif­fi­cult, but I chose the 10 that I felt were the most iconic to me and the most dif­fer­ent to each other. These brands have been go­ing for 100 years or longer, and there is some­thing about what they started in the begin­ning, and that they’ve kept through­out the years – in some cases through hav­ing dif­fer­ent head de­sign­ers at the helm – and they’ve main­tained some­thing that has made them iconic.

What does it take to be iconic?

Iconic is a word that is a bit po­lar­is­ing at times, be­cause some­one might be iconic to one per­son, and not nec­es­sar­ily to another. To me, each of the 10 brands in the book are iconic be­cause they’ve cre­ated a sig­na­ture DNA within their brand, they’ve cre­ated styles that are un­mis­tak­ably ‘them’. For ex­am­ple, in the very begin­ning, Gianni Ver­sace cre­ated beau­ti­ful mo­tives and pat­terns, such as the Me­dusa head, and those par­tic­u­lar sig­na­ture icons have been rein­vented, recre­ated in ev­ery col­lec­tion over time. I think that is what has made that brand iconic, and each of the oth­ers; Valentino with its sig­na­ture red, Gucci with its iconic red and green stripe, Pucci with its pat­terns… Each of these brands has be­come iconic be­cause they’ve cre­ated some­thing that they’ve never let go of.

Do fash­ion de­sign­ers in the Mid­dle East have what it takes to be iconic?

Ab­so­lutely. I think the only tricky thing about be­ing iconic is that you need to have quite a his­tory. So I think what we will no­tice now, is that the de­sign­ers in the Mid­dle East are re­ally forg­ing ahead. Many of them, I think, will be­come very iconic. And I think it will be the ones that re­ally have a strong sense of sig­na­ture style – they’re the brands that will be­come iconic.

Did you draw on the re­search for Iconic to cre­ate The Galleria cam­paign? How did these projects in­form one another?

Yes, in a way I guess you can re­late them strongly. My book Iconic is very much a col­lec­tion of in­cred­i­ble de­sign­ers com­ing to­gether from Italy. When I think of The Galleria, it’s a col­lec­tion of de­sign­ers from around the world in one place, and each de­signer is com­pletely dif­fer­ent; yet when they are housed to­gether it cre­ates this in­cred­i­ble world of lux­ury, be­cause you have such dif­fer­ent de­sign­ers. Each de­sign ref­er­ence for each sea­son comes from a dif­fer­ent place. So you end up with an ev­er­chang­ing eclec­tic mix of beau­ti­ful, lux­ury fash­ion.

What do you love most about work­ing with The Galleria?

I think the thing that I love most is the fact that there is such a wide scope of in­spi­ra­tion to draw on. When I first went to The Galleria, I re­mem­ber just stand­ing in the mid­dle of it and think­ing ‘this is such a beau­ti­fully cu­rated shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence’. And not all shop­ping hubs or cen­tres feel that way, and it’s just ev­ery­thing about it; it’s so beau­ti­fully de­signed. Ev­ery­thing from the Go­diva Chocolate Cafe through to all the dif­fer­ent shop­ping ar­eas, I think the mix of de­sign­ers is in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful. I think it’s also one of the few places that I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced in the Mid­dle East where there is that lovely mix of lux­ury shop­ping and beau­ti­ful din­ing. And be­ing able to dine and see out to the ma­rina promenade is just an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

As you spend more time in the Mid­dle East, are your cam­paigns based more on the real-life women you’ve met here?

Ab­so­lutely! I think no mat­ter where I work or what projects I work on, the most im­por­tant thing is to draw in­spi­ra­tion from what’s real, from what the real beauty is that you see. One of the key things that I al­ways no­tice in the Mid­dle East is that there’s such diver­sity in terms of fash­ion. I think Mid­dle Eastern women are very brave with the fash­ion that they wear; they un­der­stand lux­ury very well, they un­der­stand de­sign­ers very well, and they’re not afraid to re­ally mix de­sign­ers, to wear pieces that are very strong and very bold. As an il­lus­tra­tor that’s the most en­joy­able sub­ject mat­ter to draw: beau­ti­ful fash­ion, and I think a con­fi­dence, in a sense of strength that comes with it. And again, one of the biggest things that I no­ticed in the Mid­dle East is that the women are so beau­ti­ful. Ev­ery time I ar­rive here, I think to my­self, “Oh my good­ness, the women are so beau­ti­ful,” and I think that is some­thing that I love to cap­ture as well.

We love the Me­gan Hess girl squad. Do you de­lib­er­ately set out to send a mes­sage of fe­male sol­i­dar­ity and unity through your work?

Yes, ab­so­lutely. I al­ways wanted my il­lus­tra­tions to project strength within women. I’ve never cap­tured women in any ca­pac­ity where they look frail or weak, or not con­fi­dent. And that’s some­thing that’s very im­por­tant to me. I love fash­ion, I love a sense of el­e­gance, but at the same time I like all my char­ac­ters in my work to look strong, and have a sense of pur­pose, a sense of con­fi­dence. I al­ways feel that within the Mid­dle East as well. So that’s some­thing that, re­gard­less of where the project is, it’s some­thing that I like to cap­ture.

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