Meeting Julie Verhoeven

As part of the British Library’s ‘Spring Festival’ event, Julie Verhoeven came in to talk about her career as a fashion illustrator and the piece she made for the event. So naturally, as a huge Julie Verhoeven fan (so much so, I misplaced my talents in fashion illustration while studying at college!) I came to visit her talk and was surprised by how how humble and slightly bashful she was as a person despite her success!

Julie addressed this as she sat down to a group of us, mentioning she didn’t fare well when it comes to expressing herself through speech and that she prefers to communicate through her work of illustration, art and bold colours which make her happy. She also mentions her love of libraries, not for reading though, rather to people watch as she finds how people dress and carry themselves is most interesting and this inspired the artwork behind the ‘Spring Festival’ artwork.

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While speaking, Julie covered the floor of the room with objects and visual references which she has held onto since the late 1970’s such as vinyl record covers, Misty comics, magazines, garments and books which were all unsurprisingly brightly coloured and psychedelic – making it into her own chaotic canvas or mood board, revealing aspects of her own personality.

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She then goes onto say how there are different people she want’s to be over time, sometimes an art director, sometimes a fashion illustrator but right now she thinks of herself as an artist, moving away from the early doll faced fashion illustrations and onto more collaborative projects to do with videos and installations- showing us a commission she did last year for Chloé (one of my most favourite fashion labels):

With all her different collaborations, Julie said one in particular – Louis Vuitton from Spring/Summer 2002 was quite unbelievable, so much so infact that when Marc Jacobs personally called her, she thought it was a joke! She also said she would love to one day work with Karl Lagerfeld, having been inspired by his work he did under the house of Chloé in the 70’s- I can see that would be an amazing cross-over on either the Chanel accessories or the Karl Lagerfeld ready-to-wear, fingers crossed!

I also got to ask her what her favourite project had been so far, she replied saying the Versace project from Spring/Summer 2009 as it was ‘just very surreal being in the same room as Donatella!’ and the fact she had to take a hammer to the Versace china ware to create a mosaic panel for print design:

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Julie talked about her early years of ‘grafting’ under John Galliano in the 90’s where she worked hard every day from 12 hours a day all for free (sound familiar?) and her old school friend in the room piped up to say Galliano had passed off all Julie’s illustrations she had done for him as his own(!) – queue dramatic gasps resounding from the room.

It was a very informal and relaxed talk just how she wanted it to be and I was so happy to have finally met this amazing woman who despite her success and what she had to do to overcome her hardships, she remains a very down to earth and friendly person.

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p.s. Here’s a couple of my most loved Julie Verhoeven illustrations – I am still partial to the early fashion illustrations which inspired me throughout college:

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Les Quatre Elément. Numero Magazine, May 2002

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Fat Bottomed Girls ‘Television Personalities’ Part Time Punk, 2002

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