Fashion illustrator Megan Hess gives us her Dubai picks
From the likes of Dior, Fendi and Prada to Vanity Fair, Vogue and Sex and the City, luxury fashion illustrator Megan Hess boasts an impressive roster of clients. The Melbourne-based artist calls Dubai her second home, having made multiple trips in the span of just a few years. We chat to Megan about her style inspirations and favourite hotspots in Dubai.
“I feel like it’s my home away from home.”
Dubai’s a place that I never realised I would end up coming to so much and have so many interesting and exciting projects to work on, but it’s just the way things have worked out.
The more you come to a place, the more you discover it, the more you make friends and the more you find your favourite places and things to see and do. I’ve now got to a stage that when I arrive there’s a sense of familiarity… which has a lot to do with the people. Cities where you connect with the people - it makes a very big difference. That’s what I feel like with Dubai.
The projects I’ve worked on here are very different and diverse and the people I’ve worked with have all been very engaging and lovely.
I’ve done everything from working with Harper’s Bazaar and their House of Bazaar, which was really fun, to a lot of private commissions. Most people are very private but the projects have been some of the most beautiful I’ve worked on anywhere in the world. For example, I designed an illustration which was then turned into thousands of mosaic tiles on the base of a rooftop swimming pool.
For other clients I’ve worked on very large scale commissioned pieces for their homes, from beautiful wardrobes to living areas and pieces that are very personal -sometimes it’s a portrait, sometimes it’s a more artistic piece.
“I’ve always said that the people are very diverse.”
There’s a big traditional element but there are also a lot of other cultures within the region that bring a sense of style and beauty that I’ve used in my work.
There’s a traditional style, but once you’ve been here enough you notice that someone dressing the traditional way has their own way of doing it. Everyone is very individual in the way they present themselves and their look - that’s something I’ve noticed over time and appreciate.
I always stay at the Fairmont, The Palm, which is very relaxing and grounding. I check in, look out from my balcony and sense this calm. I’ve made a lot of friends here who take me somewhere new, such as a restaurant or new place.
There are restaurants here with food that I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world. There is this one French restaurant with an Arab influence, La Petite Maison, that I love.
I’m also obsessed with the dates. I can’t tell you how many I eat when I’m here - I get so excited! Even in my hotel room, the first thing I do is make a coffee and there’s always dates waiting. When I go back to Australia, the dates there are just not the same!
As a fashion illustrator, luxury fashion is something I’m very interested in and no one does it better than in Dubai, from the Mall of the Emirates to the Dubai Mall. For someone who lives here, it’s no big deal, but what Dubai has created with the mixture of different worlds is very interesting.
My favourite shop here is called Poca & Poca. It’s a Polish fashion brand stocked in Galeries Lafayette in Dubai Mall, which I can only get here. They do really beautiful dresses and clothing. I found the brand here and I just fell in love with it. I wear their designs every season and I buy everything. I like an elegant, ladylike look, and it not only fits that bill but the shapes and cuts are very different. I’ve even become friends with the designer in Poland!
“I love the concept of Dubai.”
I would love to do a book on Dubai - there’s so much I can picture in my head that I could illustrate. I don’t know what my next book would be but I love the concept of Dubai. I’d love to sketch the people, which is one of my favourite things to do, and the landscape - everything from the mosques and traditional buildings to the modern futuristic buildings, plus the interiors that really vary in their look and feel. The diversity is what I’d love to show.
I love sketching the abaya and have somewhat mastered drawing it. When I first came here, one of my first projects was to draw the abaya and it took quite a few sketches to get the right looping so it looked elegant in the way women really wear it. I’ve now got that down and I’ve done many illustrations with women in an abaya.
I think that’s part of my connection to here - I’ve had so many women email me thanking me for making my illustrations diverse and showing women wearing a lot of different things including abayas. I drew it because no matter where I travel, I draw what’s interesting and beautiful - and to me that’s what it was here.
“Dubai is the most perfect stopover.”
It’s right between Australia and Europe, so if you’re making that trip, try stopping in Dubai for a couple of days. I would definitely recommend camping in the desert and seeing the camels, and exploring some of the incredible mosques, which are stunning. Go to the Dubai Mall; try the local food - something you’ve never eaten before - and submerge yourself in the culture. Even if you’ve only got a couple of days, there’s plenty to explore. When I arrive, I just love the warmth - it’s such a great place to relax and unwind, and as a female often travelling on my own, it is one of the safest places to go. People are very respectful and considerate and I feel very safe being here.