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MAC Illustrated 2013, part 1: Anja Kroencke

MAC began their "Illustrated" series last year, where the company teamed up with several talented graphic artists (Julie Verhoeven, Nikki Farquharson and François Berthoud.)  This year MAC revisits the collaboration idea by working with three artists:  Anja Kroencke, Indie 184 and Rebecca Moses.  I'll be covering the latter two shortly but for now let's take a look at the bags designed by Austrian-born, New York-based fashion illustrator Anja Kroencke.

Kroencke's depictions of women are characterized by graceful, elongated necks and voluminous, often intricately detailed hair.  These elements distinguish Kroencke's work from that of other fashion illustrators by harmoniously combining boldness and delicacy, romanticism and strength.  Says the artist, "It's a mix of all kinds of women I see on the street, in movies, in magazines--but they are all strong and yet very feminine and vulnerable, sometimes even fragile but showing a strength that comes from within, the expression of the face, the pose, being in charge of their own life not dictated by fashion, society or men."




I'm particularly drawn (haha) to the short, deft strokes she uses for the irises of the girls' eyes.


Kroencke cites artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Elsa Schiaparelli and Frida Kahlo as inspiration, and acknowledges the influence of her upbringing in Vienna and her parents' Scandinavian and Bulgarian aesthetics.  She also states, "I was always drawn to a more graphic, bold style.  I love simplicity, which is actually very difficult to achieve, and developing tension in a drawing or painting through a strong composition and color palette."

I picked out some favorites from her vast portfolio.  I love the color combinations that appear in the ads for Claire's Accessories:

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Her illustrations for high-end designers are imbued with her signature elegant necks and billowing tresses, while still retaining the clothing's original elements. 

Louis Vuitton, spring 2012:

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Prada spring 2013:

Kroencke-PRADA-Spring 2013
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Some other favorites.



Vogue Nippon 2008:

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Jill Stuart:


And I have no idea what this one is for, but I love it!

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Looking at these you can definitely see how Kroencke's work has evolved over the years, particularly her use of color.  "I always try to find interesting and rather unusual color combinations that can translate to the mood of the illustration.  My color palette is very much influenced by what is happening at that time in design, architecture and fashion...I remember in the late '90s it was all about midcentury modern, lots of olive green, mustard and blue-grey; currently I'm totally into black line drawings with sometimes only a few colors," she says in a recent interview.  Indeed, her latest work, including the illustrations she created for MAC, display this gravitation towards a simpler color palette.  She also notes that her work has gotten "darker in mood and in some ways, more personal, less commercial." 

While this particular collection didn't blow me away, I think Kroencke's style is well-represented in the MAC bags - when you see them, you know the women are hers. What do you think?

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