DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM THE UAE
MEET MEGAN HESS’S NEW MIDDLE EASTERN GIRL SQUAD FOR THE GALLERIA’S AW18 CAMPAIGN
IT’S BEEN A BIG WEEK
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.