Credit: E Michael Wolf
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In the spirit of TAG Heuer’s Link Lady campaign, GRAZIA thought it’s timely to tell the stories of a number of Australian women forging dynamic careers in fast-changing industries. In a series of conversations, we linked the lives of two women operating at opposite ends of the spectrum, albeit in similar fields, who are creating spectacular work from a shared subject matter. Together, they discussed the importance of collaboration, strategies for never cracking under pressure, and how they navigate the challenges of their respective disciplines in style.
Even if you don’t know Megan Hess by name, you’ll almost certainly know her by that same style.
Hess’s singular illustrations have become synonymous with a subset of fashion imagery characterised by long-limbed gamines sporting vertiginous footwear, crowned by a towering bouffant and characterised by a maximal approach not only to dressing but to life itself. A coquettish glare is almost always a given; a champagne flute, however, is a non-negotiable. It’s a look that’s still resonating with the world’s biggest brands including TAG Heuer, Disney and Michelle Obama, and one that has seen the erstwhile graphic designer and ad agency art director assume a lifestyle that’s not entirely different from the kind of fantasy world she illustrates daily from her Melbourne studio.
“I think that’s one of the reasons you use illustration [over photography]”, says the Brisbane-born Hess in conversation on the rooftop of Melbourne’s QT Hotel. “You’re not really constrained when you’re illustrating something. If you can imagine it, then you can draw it.” Or in her case, live it.
Today, Hess says she is inspired by as much by people and street style, as by travel. In that sense, Hess’s practice as a documentarian of the street is not dissimilar from the work of Liz Sunshine, a street style photographer and founder of Street Smith who considers herself a documenter of “different people and details that inspire me and speak to what is happening on that day.
“I capture style moments that are already existing that centre around personal style and document that approach, rather than curating it”, says Sunshine. Through her work, Sunshine aims to champion the esoteric nature of style and tell a different story from those in Hess’s illustrations. Although their styles are ostensibly different on paper, what links both Hess and Sunshine is a boundless capacity to find inspiration in their connection with each other and those around them.
Coupled with a desire to observe and document the people and creative culture of their city one impeccably well-dressed moment at a time, Hess and Sunshine’s lives are also linked through their creative fellowship – an ongoing collaboration across mediums that not only enriches the other’s work but the lives of others whose worlds are made all the more colourful for having been filtered through each woman’s lens.
Motion and imagery: E Michael Wolf
Talent: Megan Hess and Liz Sunshine
Location: QT Hotel Melbourne CBD
Tile and cover image: Courtesy of Megan Hess/Instagram
Produced in association with TAG Heuer