Internationally acclaimed illustrator Megan Hess celebrates the whimsical world of the fashionably chic by imagining their dwellings and interior design aesthetic in her gorgeous new book, Fashion House: Illustrated Interiors From the Icons of Style.
Her name may not be immediately recognizable but her images certainly are. Her cover art for Candice Bushnell’s megahit Sex and the City catapulted the Melbourne native and one time creative director for Liberty of London into the fashion illustration stratosphere.
She was even asked to draw an illustration of First Lady Michelle Obama for Allison Samuels’s book What Would Michelle Do?, which looks at Mrs. Obama’s fashion and style journey throughout her life and career.
She loves the imaginary world of illustration because she doesn’t have to worry about zips or buttons or how any of her garments would be made or put on or taken off. “That’s the fun of what I get to do,” she says in a video on her website. “Everyone wants something unique for what they’re doing. But it’s always got to be in my style.”
Fashion House came about quite unexpectedly. It began with a chair. Soon a lamp followed and then a side table. Before she knew it, she was drawing complete rooms “to swoon over” inhabited by the rich and sometimes famous and very, very tall.
Spas and lofts, salons and suites, estates and digs with names such as The Gilded Penthouse and The Tropical Escape, The Eclectic Room and Granny Chic are all introduced with the imagined likes and dislikes of their invented inhabitants.
Every object, piece of clothing, textile and paint color that might have been chosen by the denizen within is explored and presented in more than 31 rooms, 10 of which were created with the very famous in mind. Hess has even included The 10 Essentials; a list of objects such as The Eclectic Chair and The Courageous Lamp and even The Resident Pet, which are all necessary components of living well.
Hess’s world is populated by chic urbanites of every discipline who dwell in peony and lilac and gardenia scented rooms filled with the music of Jimmy and Blossom, Aretha and Ray, Susannah and Miles, Ella and Christina, Bireli and Q, Jobim and Astrud and of course Miss Peggy Lee. A certain kind of delicious cool, a lush life where the meaningful discussion about the issues of the day is softened by the clinking of champagne glasses and the calm of jazz and cocktails.
There are editors.
And our most famous arbiters of style – glamour goddesses who, although long gone, still live among us influencing our personal aesthetic.
Saucy quotes listed throughout wink at the self-deprecating humor necessary to live within such an existence. My favorites are by Mae West, who said “I used to be Snow White, but then I drifted.” And this Elizabeth Taylor gem; “The problem with people who have no vices is that they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”
Megan Hess’ greatest strength as an artist is not only her sense of humor and whimsy but her quiet and assured optimism that an intensely colored life is beautiful if we allow ourselves to see it that way.