The presentation of fashion is continuously challenging itself to evolve. Editorial legends like Mert & Marcus, Nick Knight, David LaChappelle, and scores of others are pushing high fashion towards increasingly abstract states of presentation and context. It’s no longer enough to have an emaciated, grayscale model draped in a casual white button-down being misted with ocean spray. You need to transcend realism and resist the urge to relate to the consumer. Editorial advertising should be treated not as a means of example, but as an opportunity to demonstrate the great heights of a brand’s imagination, and to catch those wandering eyes as they flick through the pages.
With the search ongoing for fresh mediums of expression within fashion publications, we can see a notable gravitation towards brush and paint representations of models and their wares, with illustrator and designer Marcela Gutierrez being a key figure in directing the aesthetic towards the border that joins fashion, art and photography. If her name is unfamiliar, you may have seen her massive watercolor portraits covering the windows of Prada’s New York and Los Angeles flagship stores.
Gutierrez’s body of work is defined by precise and vibrant impressions of existing fashion portraits, amplified contrast of near-arbitrary color, and deft blotches of damp pigment. The result is an entirely fresh interpretation of the portrait, and one that seeks to merge the collective visions of the models, designers, photographers, and make-up artists through the eyes of a painter.
Yet, it seems that diversity of culture is deep at the root of this artist’s outlook. Marcela was born in Florida, raised in Guatemala, studied in Mexico and London, worked in Milan, and then settled, at least temporarily, in New York. When viewing her extensive portfolio, which contains a mixture of work for Harper’s Bazaar, editorials for Vogue Spain, and commissions for Shiseido, Swarovski, and Beyoncé, you get a sense of her vast array of cultural influences.
Read Marcela’s full article in our newest issue
text by ROSS GARDINER