The Report | Issue 102
Style Collective: Megan Hess

Style Collective   Inspiring Women. Inspiring Fashion.

With a client line-up comprising Christian Dior, Chanel, Fendi, Bergdorf Goodman, Michelle Obama and more, illustrator Megan Hess has drawn her way into a dreamlike career, with the future looking nothing short of picture-perfect.

Picture Perfectwith Megan Hess

With a client line-up comprising Christian Dior, Chanel, Fendi, Bergdorf Goodman, Michelle Obama and more, illustrator Megan Hess has drawn her way into a dreamlike career, with the future looking nothing short of picture-perfect.

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You’ve made your mark as one of the world’s most sought after fashion illustrators (and now authors), when did you decide fashion illustration would be your career?

I always knew that I wanted to draw for a living but when I was growing up, I had no idea that a fashion illustrator was an actual job! It was just always the thing I loved to do. As a child I attended art class every Saturday and it was literally my favourite time of the week. Then in high school I had an amazing teacher who really pushed me to explore the possibilities of making art my career. I’m so glad she did - I still feel incredibly lucky to do what I love as a profession.

What were your first ever fashion sketches of?

I actually think they were probably drawings of my classmates at school! So, they probably weren’t very ‘high fashion’ but I’m sure I would have upscaled everyone’s outfit in the sketch! I remember seeing Breakfast at Tiffany’s at a very young age and I spent the weeks after drawing Audrey in that iconic little black Givenchy dress with all the pearls. I also discovered the Russian Artist ‘Erte’ at a young age and his work became a huge inspiration to me. He is still a huge inspiration to me to this day.

Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada are some of your renowned clients to date. What has been your career highlight thus far?

It is always such an honour and I still pinch myself every time I’m asked to collaborate with an iconic luxury brand. And that makes it so hard to choose just one collaboration! Some career highlights would be working with Bergdorf Goodman, New York, to create a signature look for the prestigious department store. Being commissioned by Harrods of London to create a bespoke bag collection for the iconic British department store.

A series of portraits were also created for America’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, was truly a surreal experience. I’ve also illustrated portraits for Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and most recently, Sarah Jessica Parker.

I’ve also loved illustrating live for bespoke Fashion shows around the world including FENDI at Milan Fashion Week, Viktor & Rolf and Christian Dior Couture.

I learn so much from every project and become more and more in love with the process of creating something beautiful!

How did you first get the attention of such prestigious brands?

Working with Candace Bushnell was literally my first BIG break! I thank my lucky stars that she chose me to illustrate the cover of Sex and the City - it was the project that really started my career with luxury fashion. She is still a mentor to me today.

I am very grateful to all the amazing brands that I have had the opportunity to have worked with. It has been years of building those relationships. Each new project attracts a new client and I have been very lucky to have been commissioned by such diverse and creative companies all over the world.

Tell us the story behind publishing Claris the Mouse.

I had always wanted to create a children’s book so it was such a dream come true to bring my little mouse to life! I always believe that things happen at the right time, no matter when that is. Like many of my ideas, the initial concept takes time to properly form in my mind - once I can visually see it in my mind, I’m then like a runaway train and can illustrate it quite quickly. In many ways, I had been working on her for a decade - so many ideas swirling in my mind, then once the idea completely made sense, I created it in a pretty short time frame. I’m already working on book 3 and 4!

What advice would you give to the other artistic people who are thinking about starting a creative career?

Decide what is the one thing that would make you excited to spring out of bed on a Monday morning and do for a career. Write down a plan and strategy to make that dream happen and start on it TODAY. You don’t need to suddenly quit your current job or dramatically change your life but taking the first step is always the hardest, so decide to do it today.

Never, ever give up on that dream. If it’s something that you love, then you will enjoy the process regardless of the outcome.

What has been one of your most memorable commissioned pieces?

Earlier this year I had a huge ‘pinch me’ moment - I was commissioned by Chopard to illustrate for them at the Cannes Film Festival. I saw more diamonds and Hollywood’s finest in 24 hours to last me a lifetime. It was such an incredible project to work on. I designed and illustrated their Cannes 2019 Red Carpet book and then we launched it on opening night at Cannes. I kept asking myself... ‘Is this real?’

Any advice on balancing career with family?

It’s not easy! All of it takes work and ‘managing it all’ is a different equation for every person. My life is a mixture of absolute chaos and utter bliss. Every day is different, and I rarely ever have a day perfect.

Creating ‘me-time’ is so important. Everyone can make 15 minutes for themselves a day and once you have that a regular routine then slowly increases the amount of time. Not only will you be in the practice of taking time for yourself, your family will also adjust and know that it’s your time. As mums, we always put everyone else first, so we have to be strong and committed to making the time for ourselves. I’m a big fan of meditation. In the beginning I found it really hard to do but I can now do 20 minutes a day and I feel like it completely resets my mind and body. I really believe that you need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of others.

You’ve worked for many international labels, what global trends are you loving right now?

I always say that I get to see many trends way before they are in the mainstream and my rule of thumb is - if it doesn’t feel right when I first see it, I know it will be a trend in two years. It takes time for a trend to move across the world aesthetically. Right now, I’m loving the trend (and hopefully this will never leave) of inclusion. Age, race, colour, gender and sexuality - brands are being inclusive in all areas and it is creating a strong path for the future. Just look at Rihanna’s New York Fashion Week Fenty show - so diverse and incredibly beautiful to experience. It’s exciting and it’s a path that will ultimately make people feel more included and connected.

How has your personal style evolved over the course of your career and having children?

I think over the years my style has definitely changed. It is not so much that my taste has changed, but I would never ever be uncomfortable now. I worked out that I actually never need to wear anything tight or constricting to look good. I also don’t have to wear the highest of heels to look put together. I realised years ago that if I’m truly happy and comfortable in what I’m wearing, I will just have a better time! I have certain designers that I love, and I always go back to them. Fashion is so much fun to wear, to change and switch up - my motto is to always dress for yourself and never anyone else.

What is your go-to office look?

In the studio I tend to wear a lot of layered black and white pieces. I try to find pieces that are both super comfortable to wear because I am illustrating all day but also pieces that are chic enough that if a client comes for a meeting or I end up going out for a presentation it’s something that I can just add some heels to and a great piece of statement jewellery and I am ready to go.

What's next for Megan Hess?

There are so many BIG exciting projects coming up. Sometimes I get so excited about what’s to come that I literally can’t sleep! Right now, I’m focused on my latest fashion book that has just been released; ELEGANCE - The Beauty of French Fashion. I’m about to go on a world book tour and it’s just so incredible to meet so many wonderful people all around the world and feel that connection. Creating is such a joy and it’s even more amazing when you can actually share it with others.