Hand-drawn fashion editorials fell out of fashion (so to speak) around the time of World War II. Illustrations just didn’t capture the modern vision that fashion magazines were interested in projecting to readers–photography, of course, did. Tara Dougans, a London art director with a penchant for colored pencil, revived the medium for her latest project, an animated fashion editorial called Beware Of A Man’s Shadow And A Bee’s Sting.
Dougans received the commission to create an “animated editorial” for London Men’s Fashion Week in January. Even though the final animation would be digital, she tells Co.Design, she wanted to create “a multisensory experience without losing the feel of handcraftsmanship.” Hand drawing seemed an obvious choice. “Menswear… somehow feels more open to interpretation,” Dougans explains. “The idea was to juxtapose the subtle stoicism of menswear imagery with a cheeky animated wink.”
Her drawings (seen here in GIF form) immortalize seven stand-out menswear pieces in unearthly colored pencil portraits. The designs come from established brands like Louis Vuitton and Givenchy, as well as younger powerhouses like Thom Browne and Juun.J. They’re worn by androgynous models who stare directly into the camera–drawn in black and white, to emphasize the colorful garments. Flowers, honeybees, and geometric shapes float around the models–there’s a definite kinship with Frida Kahlo’s portraits here.
So, what’s the deal with the bees? The title of the reel comes from the Burmese proverb, “beware of a man’s shadow and a bee’s sting.” The symbolism of honeybees gave the animation a punch of surrealism. “A little twist of playfulness goes a long way,” she explains.
Beware Of A Man’s Shadow will premiere this week, at London’s first-ever Men’s Fashion Week. “Within fashion exists an interesting balance of business and art,” Dougans comments, writing over email about mixing commercial design and fine art. “At its heart it is an art form–but also an industry with an immense degree of commercial pressure. Each season, every season–something new, something special. I think that depicting fashion should be equally dynamic, equally surprising, equally fun. “
[Images courtesy of Tara Dougans]