"New Yorkers see the world globally" – Megan Hess on her new book, New York
Through a fashion eye
A ustralian illustrator Megan Hess has just launched a new book, aptly titled New York: Through a Fashion Eye. The second in a series of illustrated texts by the designer, the new tomb is a tell-all (in drawings) about Hess' view of the stylish city, including a sneak peek at where Armani gets his pasta from. Here Buro 24/7 Middle East's Editor in Chief, Shannon Wylie, speaks to the author about her latest read and that infamous New York attitude...
Congratulations on launching another book.
Thank you. When I finished the Coco Chanel book, I started a ritual where I finish and I do a book tour, then it's Christmas, and then it's January. Then my publisher calls me and says: "Let's set up a meeting so we can talk about what you want to do for the next one."
How do you decide what to illustrate next?
It's a strange feeling as to what. For every book I've done, I've choosen something I'm really passionate about. So when I was thinking about this book, I had a lot of different ideas about different things and I just started thinking, maybe it's something in New York, maybe it has something to do with designers, and New York just kept coming back to me. So I thought, maybe it's about New York.
What is it about New York that you love? Everyone always seems to have the most fascinating stories about the city...
New York is my favourite city in the world. It's a city I've been going back to for 15 years and it's also the city that gave me my first big break. So I sort of have an emotional connection to it and also I think, in terms of fashion, it's a really key city. But when I spoke to my publisher and said that I wanted the book to be about New York, their first reaction was: "Well, there are already so many books and travel guides about New York." Obviously there are. So the difference with this one is it's an illustrated journey through the eyes of an illustrator.
So you featured the Met Gala and the must-shop boutiques?
Yes, which Anna Wintour invites you too and then there's Bergdorf Goodman, where you have a coffee. The fashion experiences range from bespoke to experiences that cost nothing like seeing where Armani gets his pasta every Friday.
The MET Gala, have you been?
I've not been, no. I've never been invited (laughs) but I would love to go.
If Anna Wintour is reading this... (laughs)
Please send me an invitation! Where's my invitation (laughs)? It probably keeps getting lost in the mail. She must be resending it...
And going back to your first big break, have you sent the book to Candace Bushnell?
So my big break really came when Candace's publishing house found me and asked if I would do a cover for Sex and the City. I felt like New Yorkers in particular, not really Americans, but New Yorkers see the world globally and work globally. They liked my work, regardless of where I was from or what I'd done in the past. So, I told Candance about the book and at the time, she was working on her last book, so she sent me a copy of the manuscript before she'd even finished it. She's given me some of the best advice over the years.
Ooh do tell?
Just you know, learn to take a compliment, don't apologise (laughs). They're really tough you know. They're really tough. I think sometimes, it's been a shock. It's the New York attitude. They say what they mean and mean what they say, and I appreciate that.
Speaking about other regions, you're back in Dubai...
I just get really excited to come back and I think it's because I find it both relaxing, I find it inspiring, I feel very safe.
The more I come to Dubai, the more I fall in love with it!
And next on the travel schedule?
Well, I arrived this morning and I leave at 4am. From Dubai I go to Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, and then back to Australia. I know it sounds ridiculous but when you have two kids, you can't just leave. It's too hard on all of us.
Do you think you'd ever look back and think: "I've focused too much on my career, I didn't give my children enough time?"
No. I honestly think that you can't spend every single day with your kids and still work. I just think it's a balance thing. If I did meet a client for dinner two weeks ago in one country, I don't need to have dinner with him again two weeks later. You know, you have to be like that. On a lot of trips, if it's a longer trip for over a week, I actually do bring my husband and kids.
What are your thoughts on featuring the family on social media? It seems to be such a topic of discussion at the moment?
I never put them on social media. Well very rarely.
So what's next for you after the book tour?
When the book tour is over, I get to go back to the studio and refocus my business. I've got a few things that I've been working on all year, ready for Christmas, and one of them is totally different to the book — it's a haute desk top collection. I never did believe in having just a utilitarian desk where you have to work, so to speak. So on my desk, I have a lot of little things that I've collection from places I've travelled and my favourite stationary. So, I've created a series of little trays that will launch soon. Then it's time to start fresh next year.