With eyes trained over the edge of water, you may witness a swimmer in a moment of suspended balance. The second where their body is a weightless, floating object; their guarded breath escape in bubbles that distort their head’s swirling image. Any swimmer knows this moment, the quiet break from gravity’s bonds where you are for an instant captured by the pull of water.
In many ways, Kelly Durette’s illustrations look as though they could easily fit among the pages of a fashion or bridal magazine. The women she draws are exquisite, eyes focused, with hands grazing the curves of their cheeks. Yet there is one distinct difference between Durette’s women and the ones that often appear on the covers of Vogue — hers are not among the living. The curls of their hair are held in place by decorative bones, skulls and tissue are exposed by a decaying face, and their lips are cracked with age. Durette has taken the looks of models and flipped them, emphasizing macabre elements to both challenge and promote the beauty of her subjects.
The Ontario-based, self-taught artist has often had her work categorized in the “Day of the Dead” genre. Of course, the skulls and balance of bright tones through primary and colored pencils speaks to a certain aesthetic. But Durette’s focus transcends the popular style by having a particular focus on the anatomy of her subjects. She tells the alternative art magazine Creep Machine, “I have always been fascinated by medical illness, anatomy and what happens to the body after death. It’s not meant to be creepy, but rather to draw these beautiful women and add a touch of the macabre without losing the overall sexiness.” Consequently, her work generally inspires a realistic feel, as opposed to the painterly qualities of many “Day of the Dead” pieces. Durette’s work literally feels as though its subjects are decaying; the pinks of the muscles can be seen past the paling skin.
Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan is all about appealing to the femininity in women — her two most recent collections, despite being for the fall and winter seasons, were entirely comprised of skirts and dresses, save for a single pair of shorts. The colors she utilizes speak to the same type of woman, with remarkably soft pallets and, at times, careful hints of lace. Her choice to dedicate her line to this type of client makes sense when considering that the South African-born and New Zealand-raised blonde beauty got her start in the world of lingerie. And despite expanding her fashion repertoire, Dinnigan has continuously devoted her time to this particular style.
Dinnigan, now based out of Australia, is capable of dressing her clients at any point in their lives. From the bedroom, their wedding day, to more simple street wear, her collections have them covered. Her once dry-clean only lingerie collection now boasts playful yet classy pieces, sporting both soft colors with lace trim to more bold animal prints. The intricacy of lingerie is one of her favorite aspects of the design process, as she tells New Zealand online fashion magazine Fashionz, “…what I love is that it’s all so tiny and small, it’s almost like you want to frame pieces! Whereas when you tend to get big gowns, with a lot of fabric, there isn’t the same ‘smallness’ of it, you know, the attention to detail? And I think you can use some really beautiful print, and not necessarily have to be so traditional. And it’s just the femininity of it all, really, and the trimmings, those are the bits that I love.” Her bridal collection ranges in style as well, but ultimately goes for a classic look in cool whites. Some are decorated with a more delicate silk organza while others are fully embroidered in Swarovski crystals. Her ready-to-wear pieces also go for bright looks, flirtatious dresses, and occasionally sheer and bold trim. This ability to take on all types of design makes her a powerhouse in the fashion world.
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