Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Illustrating Chanel

For the past five months I have been working away in my library writing and illustrating two books. One of them is a book that looks at the real story behind the novel Picnic at Hanging Rock (and believe me, there is a real story, and a scandalous one too!). The other is an illustrated guide to Chanel, entitled How To Live A Beautiful Life. While the first book was both an eye-opener and a sentimental literary trip down Picnic lane, it was the second one that really captured my heart. 

Chanel has become Big Business in publishing circles. Everyone wants to write books about her, film movies about her, or simply idolise the iconic black and white logo and the gorgeous collections produced from the prestigious French fashion house each year. As such,  there are already  a couple of beautiful Chanel books out there, including Justine Picardie's impressive biography. However, I wanted to do a book that was like Chanel's own diary or fashion notebook. The idea came from a Chanel press release I received many years ago; a press release that was so extravagant it took my breath away. Chanel produces these extraordinary designs on August 19 every year in celebrating of Miss Coco's birthday. Each year the Chanel team comes up with ever-more fanciful ideas for press releases and each year beauty editors ooh and aaah over the stunning results. Quite frankly, I don't know how these release can become any more gorgeous. Unless they sent a couture Chanel gown out with them. 

Anyhow, the 2005 press release (which was so beautiful it was featured in Vogue, above) inspired me to do this book. And so for the past few months I've been trying to think of ways to illustrate it. Without using the name, the interlocking Cs, or any photographic images of the collections, all of which would be illegal. Somehow, I found a way to illustrated it, mostly via the marvellous medium of college. The art materials and manuscript have now gone off to an editor I know, for her to mull over them and offer her professional thoughts. In the meantime, here are some of the discarded "off cuts" from the creative process!


  1. I'd read about your 'picnic' book in one of your earlier posts - and having long been a fan of both the Joan Lindsay novel and Peter weir film, I can't wait to uncover the hidden backstory! But, the images above have also worked their magic - I can't wait to see the finished product...

  2. Hi Annie,
    I'm thrilled to meet another 'Picnic' lover. It has been a difficult book to write as there was a lot I couldn't include. There is SO much to Joan Lindsay's life that people don't realise. But out of respect I've tried to tread a moral line - although I still might need to cut a lot! Will let you know when it's about to be published.
    Thank you for commenting too - always lovely to hear from you.
    Best wishes,


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