Pippa McManus

Valentia+#2Breathing new life into the photographs that grace the pages of the world’s most renowned fashion publications, Pippa McManus creates breathtakingly beautiful fashion illustrations inspired by models, photographers and designers, celebrating the bonds between fashion and art.

During November a collection of McManus’ favourite illustrations will grace the walls of Tú in Northbridge for Seeing Double, the artist’s second solo exhibition. “I became aware of fashion illustration when I was in high school when I started reading and collecting fashion magazines,” she says, gesturing to the wall of Vogues, Lulas and other fashion bibles that frame her studio.

“I’ve been doing fashion illustration since I left TAFE, which was in 2002 I think, so about seven to eight years professionally. I did two years of Fine Arts and then three years of Fashion Design because I didn’t want to be a fine artist because I don’t have those hard problems to draw from and create anxious art, it’s not in me, I’m too happy-go-lucky,” McManus says with a laugh. “I like really pretty, beautiful things and I love fashion. I always liked the fashion illustration side of TAFE but it took me a couple of years to realise it.”
Once she discovered her true passion lay in fashion illustration rather than fashion design or fine art, McManus hit the ground running, and in the years since she began plying her trade as an artist, she’s worked with a covetable list of clients including Ellery, the Claremont Quarter, Urban Walkabout and a number of high profile publications.

“Ellery were great, it was such a massive compliment because I admire her designs and her direction, so that was really fun. It was one of those projects where they said ‘throw up anything you want on that wall, just go for it’. Claremont Quarter were fantastic, especially because I love drawing summery things so their spring/summer campaign was really fun to do. Seeing that everywhere on bus stops and things was out of control.”

Though McManus always puts an original twist on the photographs she draws from, the artist admits to experiencing pangs of guilt, and is constantly concerned about potential breaches in copyright.
“I always feel guilty drawing from photos because I kind of feel like I might be stealing something from the photographer. At the moment I’m drawing the whole of my favourite issue of Vogue. It’s 302 pages, so I’m doing every single page and trying to use as many techniques as possible but it will breach copyright. I haven’t found a way to get around it. Maybe I’ll just finish it, I’m nearly 70 pages in. It’s everything – the text, the articles… it’s hard but I have to do it because it’s a big personal project. I have to finish it – it’s been happening for way too long.”

In addition to figuring out a way to exhibit her own version of Vogue without any legal backlash, McManus is planning to head abroad for fresh inspiration in 2012, with her sights set on Paris Fashion Week.
“I want to go to Paris Fashion Week again in September, I went last year and stalked the Viktor & Rolf show and saw my fashion heroes – the editors, the photographers, the models. Perth Fashion Festival is so great and it’s so fun to be up close and in it but it would also be great to be able to do it somewhere else as well. I always wait for Paris Fashion Week to roll around when I’m doing sketching; it’s the epitome of what I love.”
Fans of McManus’ work can view Seeing Double at Tú, 218A William Street in Northbridge, from Thursday, November 10, ’til Wednesday, November 30. It’s also worth checking out her blog,