Middle Earth

Once upon a time… These words open many doors to many of us, I think. I’ve always been fascinated by fairytales and when, during my second year at fashion school, I was tasked with creating a collection inspired by them, I immediately enjoyed the project.

However it wasn’t easy. Fairytale are continually used and abused and to give them a new and fresh interpretation is no easy task. So I decided to go back to my childhood. I  didn’t want to work on princesses, princes, ball gowns and all that other Disney stuff, (although I really love Disney cartoons). I went back to the fairytales my dad used to read to me and my sister when we were very little before going to bed. He used to read us Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. We loved it so much that we even had our favorite chapters and made him read them again and again!

Middle Earth-2

For this reason I called my project MIDDLE EARTH. However it couldn’t be limited to one and only inspiration, so I had to add something else. In the end I opted to take elements from all the other classic fairytales, but more with a “Into the Woods” twist than with a Disney one.

While developing the collection, I needed to create original prints so I drew illustrations by hand with my pencils. That was a real challenge for me cause I had never tried something different from flowers before. I was really afraid I couldn’t do it. I started researching illustrations from both Tolkien’s masterpieces and was struck by two of them.

The first was in a very childlike style and represented the first meeting of Gandalf and Bilbo. Bilbo’s home was the centre of the composition and its warm colors created a strong contrast against the cold hues of the sky and of the grass of the roof. I wanted to repeat it in my artwork and started sketching a very similar house, but with corners and flat walls, not all curves like an hobbit’s one! However I kept some other details, like the grass roof, the brick chimney, the wood door and the path in front of the house. I also added some natural elements trees, flowers and Merida. Yep, I wanted to add at least one character but not a fantasy creature line an elf or an hobbit. Also I’m not so able to draw a human figure and was afraid to ruin everything. Then I had an idea: using my Disney lookalike, Merida. She was covered with her cape so it wasn’t so difficult! So my illustration was completed and I could color it.

Middle Earth-1

Then I had to think to another one. I went back to Alan Lee, who created amazing illustrations for both Tolkien’s masterpieces, also used by Peter Jackson as inspiration for the movies adaptions. An illustration representing Gandalf and his fellows on their horses inside a forest (don’t remember from which book it came from) won me over. The group was very small and at centre of the composition, however the main focus was the forest and the contorted and covered with vegetation branches of its trees. They were stunning. I loved how they created a sort of framework in his artwork, so I did the same in mine. I also used the same colors, many different hues of green and grey. The main difference was the lack of any character in my composition. I opted instead for the entrance of a mysterious cave.

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