BEAUTY & THE BEAST

It's come to the point in my fairy tale collection where I've started saving the best for last.
While it's so hard for me to play favourites, as so many different stories appeal to me for different reasons, 'Beauty and the Beast' is one of those stories that just gives me butterflies.
Admittedly, it's a tale that I never connected with until I saw the Disney adaptation in 1992. Prior to that, I think I had seen an 80s soap-style version that starred Linda Hamilton – which didn't exactly grip me. Of course, we can never forget Shelley Duvall's 'Faerie Tale Theatre.'
However, from the very first moment I laid eyes on that shiny, big screen and listened to a host of villagers sing 'Bonjour!' to each other I was hooked. I still vividly remember turning to my Mum half-way through 'Be Our Guest' and requesting we 'buy this on video as SOON as it comes out!'
It was love.
Over the past 25 (gulp!) years I have devoured other editions of the story - most notably the French live-action film starring Léa Seydoux as Belle and Vincent Cassell as the Beast.
This version is much more in keeping with the original tale and I highly recommend watching it. It's visually stunning.
I also have to make mention of Disney's current live-action remake. I admit - I've already seen it three times. On first viewing I wasn't sure what I thought of it, having already seen (and loved) such a high quality live-action version of the story, but also being so familiar with the original 1992 version.
However, on subsequent viewings, I was able to take it in without any pre–conceived ideas and just enjoy it for what it was.

I digress! Back to the illustration. I started my interpretation of this story almost a year ago!
I had some initial ideas of how I wanted to capture it in illustrated format, but I kept putting it off, wanting the idea to have time to grow if needed - and I was never entirely happy with what I was doing. To try to encapsulate such a delicately beautiful and layered story into just one image is not as easy as it sounds. There are so many themes within 'Beauty and the Beast' - not just the love story between Belle and the Beast, but also those of jealousy, greed, materialism and the superficial manner in which we can judge each other. There was also the symbolic nature of the rose.
Some interpretations of the original tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve are quite grotesque. Others are beautiful, and opulent. I think we all tend to associate fairy tales with the fantasy of royalty and beauty. However, they always hark back to darker roots; stories created to scare children into making good moral choices. Which is why it can be so hard to truly depict each story.
But, strip it all back and no matter which way you look at it, this story is ultimately about love; lost, platonic, coveted, and deep, true love. Which is why I decided to focus my illustration on the enigmatic rose at the heart of the story - with a side of couture as always.
Depending on which version you want to read into, the rose symbolises the Beast's love for his previous wife; his grief and guilt at her death which was (inadvertently) caused by his own callous and beastly nature, but also the love that Belle's father feels for his daughter, as it is this rose that he plucks from the Beast's garden to give to Belle when he returns home. A rose is what Belle covets most, when all of her sisters crave jewels and finery. In the Disney version, the rose is a physical reminder of the Beast's curse, representing the time he has in which to break the curse that befalls him, before the last petal falls.
One of my favourite parts of researching this tale was seeing how their relationship is depicted in different variations of the story. I wanted to focus on the progression of their relationship, and in doing so fell back into the original tale. Belle, having taken the place of her father, sits down to an opulent dinner with the Beast each night. After every meal he asks her to marry him, a proposal she refuses. However, gradually, as she begins to know him, and to feel empathy and gratitude toward him for the kindness that he shows to her, she starts to see his true character beneath the beastly guise, and falls in love with him.
Chic as ever, dressed in Chanel-inspired lace, Belle and a Versace-clad Beast are ensconced inside the glass cloche, standing amongst opulent candelabras and the peony roses that represent their budding love affair.

The latest in the collection, 'Beauty and the Beast,' is available in my store now in limited A3 + A2 editions until sold out.

SHOP HERE: www.birdyandme.com.au/shop

More Beauty and the Beast inspiration below:

Drew Barrymore by Annie Leivobitz for Vogue (US)

Drew Barrymore by Annie Leivobitz for Vogue (US)

La Belle et la Bête, 2014 - Pathé Films

La Belle et la Bête, 2014 - Pathé Films

Karen Elson photographed by Tim Walker, Love Magazine, 2013

Karen Elson photographed by Tim Walker, Love Magazine, 2013

Beauty & the Beast, photographed by Giampaolo Sgura, Magazine Antidote, 2011

Beauty & the Beast, photographed by Giampaolo Sgura, Magazine Antidote, 2011

Kate Moss by Tim Walker, Vogue Italia, 2015

Kate Moss by Tim Walker, Vogue Italia, 2015

Beauty and the Beast, 2017 - Walt Disney Pictures

Beauty and the Beast, 2017 - Walt Disney Pictures

Alexander McQueen. Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen. Savage Beauty

THE MET GALA 2017

It's that time of the year again! The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Costume Institute Gala, where the best (and worst) of fashion and celebrity circles come together to raise money and unveil the newest exhibition at the Costume Institute - as well as, let's be honest, strutting their stuff on the ONLY red carpet that leaves room for self-expression and a bit of theatricality.
This year's exhibit “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between" set the night's theme of avant-garde, and while some attendees nailed the brief (looking at you Solange Knowles, Rihanna, Stella Tennant, Ruth Negga and Katy Perry) many opted for the traditional, yet slightly edgy, designs that we've come to expect from the Met Gala.
In my opinion, this year's theme was going to be hard for a lot of the celebrity guests to truly nail. Avant-garde calls for risky, daring, experimental looks - it's wearable art. But most celebrities and their stylists will always stick to their own personal style, trying to incorporate the theme where they can.
On that note, I wanted to share some of my favourites from the night.
I, personally, prefer structural, elegant, pretty gowns. So it should be no surprise that some of my faves didn't necessarily nail the brief! But here we go, in no particular order:

Lily Rose Depp in Chanel. For me this look was 100% Met Gala Barbie and I absolutely loved it! So much so that I absolutely HAD to stop what I was doing and draw it.

Lily Rose Depp in Chanel. For me this look was 100% Met Gala Barbie and I absolutely loved it! So much so that I absolutely HAD to stop what I was doing and draw it.

Rihanna in Comme des Garçons. One of the few who wore the label of the honour! RiRi could wear a bed sheet and somehow pull it off. I love that she is never afraid to experiment on the red carpet, and BIG looks are something we've come to expect from her.

Rihanna in Comme des Garçons. One of the few who wore the label of the honour! RiRi could wear a bed sheet and somehow pull it off. I love that she is never afraid to experiment on the red carpet, and BIG looks are something we've come to expect from her.

Zoë Kravitz in Oscar de la Renta. This was gothic meets sophisticated princess. My fave combination.


Zoë Kravitz in Oscar de la Renta. This was gothic meets sophisticated princess. My fave combination.

Kylie Jenner in Versace. Say what you want about the Kardashians/Jenners, but I loved Kylie's look. So much texture, and that fringe!

Kylie Jenner in Versace. Say what you want about the Kardashians/Jenners, but I loved Kylie's look. So much texture, and that fringe!

Fei Fei Sun in Alberta Ferretti. One of my FAVOURITE models, and a look that really paid elegant homage to the theme of the night! Love.

Fei Fei Sun in Alberta Ferretti. One of my FAVOURITE models, and a look that really paid elegant homage to the theme of the night! Love.

Liu Wen in Off-White. I shouldn't love a denim gown, but I do.

Liu Wen in Off-White. I shouldn't love a denim gown, but I do.

Let me know your faves in the comments!

Images via Vogue.Com

CLARINS FLORAL BEAUTY

Last year I had the pleasure of working, again, with Clarins Australia on a series of floral-inspired imagery for their Winter '17 gift promotion. (You might remember our previous collaboration, but if not, click HERE.)
Taking inspiration from key product notes of Rose, Chamomile, Lavender and Hydrangea, as well as the incredible natural beauty of some of the most intoxicating places in the world, we came up with a series of colourful, blooming beauties exclusive to different retail partners to display in store throughout the past few months.

See below for the current "Pink" image, which you can see in-store at Myer this week, along with the other floral fantasies. (I think my fave might be the basket full of daisies AKA happiness!)

PINK - The chic London Florist with an armful of David Austin roses.

YELLOW - The Summery Sunday bike-rider in Primrose Hill with a basket full of daisies.

RED - The sophisticated shopper with a box of classic roses in the signature Clarins hue.

BLUE - The lady on vacanza, soaking up the Italian sunshine, surrounded by sparkling water and hydrangeas in the brightest azure blue.

PURPLE - The Provençal flower farmer in a rolling Lavender field.

VANITY

I had originally intended this piece to be something of a throwback to my 2009 illustration 'Scented' - one of my most popular prints ever - a 'Scented 2.0' if you will.
It quickly evolved, however, into more a still life featuring some of my favourite beauty products; scented in more than ways than one!
Aesop's 'Resurrection Aromatique' hand balm, which smells so delicious I could eat it, is also secretly used by my husband (I'm a regular ol' wikileaks over here!)
My 'Baies' candle from Diptyque has long since burnt out, but using it as a vase for the most fragrant of peonies is another way to admire its beautiful design.
Also featured are Charlotte Tilbury's 'Very Victoria' - hands down the best nude/beige-rose lipstick - and Chanel's 'Coco Mademoiselle.' I find so many Chanel perfumes too strong for my senses, and as much as I would love to say I was a fan of the iconic 'No.5' it's just too overpowering for me. 'Mademoiselle' is by far my favourite; powdery and soft, but also a little bit sexy.
My other go-to is BYREDO's 'Bal D'Afrique.' I first discovered BYREDO a few years ago while browsing the beauty department at Liberty London where I was immediately seduced by the edgy beauty of 'Rose Noir' and wore it, quite literally, every single day until it ran out. When I popped into a store to re-purchase it I tried 'Bal D'Afrique' on a whim, and I jumped ship faster than you can say 'WRAP IT UP, WENDY!'
As you can see from the image above, although not featured in the illustration, I am also a huge fan of Charlotte Tilbury's beauty products. I was converted on a visit to their counter when I purchased ol' Vic and was given a few samples of 'Magic Night Cream,' which is one of the best products I have used for my skin - and even better, it can do its thang while I sleep!
I also use CT for my brows, lashes, and even my highlighter/bronzer combo. ALL OF THE THINGS.

Anyway, none of this is sponsored, just heavily endorsed by my face and skin!
I do hope you enjoy this latest illustration, along with a peek at what's on my vanity.
It did start out as 'Scented 2.0' I promise. But what's a CT lipstick and classic white peony between friends?!
'Vanity' is available as a limited edition print in my store here: www.birdyandme.com.au/shop

100K

I recently hit 100,000 followers on my Instagram page and, pardon my French, I just have to say HOLY SH!T.
I didn't want to make a long, rambling post about this but I DID want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for following, supporting, and encouraging me at this little pass time-turned-profession of mine.
I won't lie - I find the internet to be a bit of a scary place at times and the sheer volume of us using these platforms is a little overwhelming. I've never been one to feel extremely comfortable with sharing much of my life online, but the fact is that the number above that follow button, while only a number, is truly humbling. Because, while I don't share my personal life, I do share my artwork and that in itself is a huge part of who I am. That so many of you are interested in it leaves me a little bit speechless. 

As a small thank you I want to give everyone 20% off all prints in my store with code "100K" until Friday 7th April.
You can visit my store here: www.birdyandme.bigcartel.com

Sending so much love and gratitude out to all of you x

P.S That little 'Thank You' card is by the very clever, fellow Tasmanian, Eloise Lark!

DIOR COUTURE BEAUTY

Christian Dior Couture SS'17 / via fasionista.com

Christian Dior Couture SS'17 / via fasionista.com

Christian Dior Couture SS'17 / via vogue.co.uk

Christian Dior Couture SS'17 / via vogue.co.uk

Some quick beauty sketches from last week's Christian Dior Haute Couture show for Spring/Summer 2017. I had intended to get these up last week, but I was away and forgot to take the connection for my laptop so I was unable to finish them off until now! Whoops.
While Maria Grazia Chiuri's first Couture show for Dior was a little reminiscent of her ethereal work for Valentino, it was undoubtedly beautiful, feminine, and fantastically whimsical!
The stars! The florals! The incredible head pieces!
As soon as I saw it I was transported to the pages of a fairytale; a Midsummer Night's Dream or a Secret Garden.
Given my latest project, it was a given that I would have to capture some of it, albeit it quickly.

Stay tuned for another illustration based around one of Paris's biggest shows.
This one, however, is going into the storybook series and gracing a fictional femme...
 

L'ORÉAL

Happy New Year!
I'm back at my desk and kicking off the 2017 posts with some recent work for L'Oréal Paris and their 'Root Cover-Up' product using pencil and ink to create a glorious mane of flipped over curls with just a hint of grey.
I thought it'd be fun to show this one as an animated gif. Greys - no greys! Magic!

CHRISTMAS BREAK

That's a *WRAP* (ba-doom-ching) on Christmas for another year, folks!
I'm now OUT for the holidays. My print shop will re-open after Christmas, but I will remain quiet up until the New year.

Thank you all so much for your print orders and supporting my little shop, and in turn myself, at this time of year!  It's such a privilege to be able to share my work with you all and I hope that any of my ladies that have found their way under your tree this year are enjoyed for many years to come!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, may your holiday be safe, happy and full of love! x

CINDERELLA

CINDERELLA_SHOP.jpg

The latest in my fairy tale series, and perhaps one of the most widely treasured - 'Cinderella'!

For so many of us, 'Cinderella' (told by the Brothers Grimm and, perhaps most famously, Charles Perrault) is synonymous with Walt Disney's classic animated film. Along with 'Snow White' it was one of the studio's very first in a long line of fairy tales.
We're so familiar with that 'Bibbity Bobbity Boo' scene, the stunning score, and that beautiful scenery (envisioned by the wonderful concept art of Mary Blair).

While Disney's version is so vivid in our memories, I wanted to focus less on the ball and the Prince, and more on Cinderella herself.
Of course those shoes makes a precious cameo, but it's all about that glorious gown and the transformation from rags to ravishing beauty. The birds and mice are getting her dressed and she's just about to throw that god-damned broom away.
In true fashionista style, our Cinderella proves that sometimes all it takes to improve your day is a killer pair of heels and a beautiful dress! Sure, you might have to sweep a few floors, but you'll feel pretty darn good doing it.

'Cinderella' is available now in a limited edition of 40 A3 prints, and 15 A2 prints, in my store here:
www.birdyandme.bigcartel.com
I hope I've done her justice!

View some of Disney's original 'Cinderella' concept art by Mary Blair (because I love it so much!) and a gif of THAT transformation below.

Artwork by Mary Blair for Walt Disney

Artwork by Mary Blair for Walt Disney

Artwork by Mary Blair for Walt Disney

Artwork by Mary Blair for Walt Disney

CINDERELLA