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Camilla Locatelli: The Fairytale of the Fashion Illustrator

Camilla Locatelli: The Fairytale of the Fashion Illustrator
27-year-old Camilla Locatelli is an Italian fashion illustrator who’s making her debut working for Glamour, Italian design houses and custom creating Lapalme Magazine’s Horoscope Illustrations. She lives in Parma, a small Italian town famous for its exquisite cuisine and for being the birthplace of Parmigianino, the master painter of Mannerism.

“Since I can remember, drawing has always been part of my life. To illustrate literally means to narrate, to explain something. This is exactly what an illustrator does, we hold the pencil, the same as a writer, making use of words. The illustrator takes advantage of the image’s power to tell you his fable, catching your imagination to lead your mind far away. This is the reason why I’ve fell victim to the charm of fashion illustration. I love tales and I’m really passionate on fashion!”


1. I am a huge fan of your work. When did you become focused on fashion illustration?

CL: My mother is an art historian, so I had the privilege to grow up surrounded by art books and catalogues. When I was a child, my parents used to bring me to museums and exhibitions, to admire wonderful masterpieces of ancient art. Enchanted by stunning gowns and voluminous draperies, once I got back to home, I used to draw the amazing costumes that I saw in portraits. If you add a pinch of fairy tales, Disney princesses and costume dramas, the work is done!

Growing up, runways begun to catch my imagination in the same way as paints, so costumes gradually turned into clothes, while drawing became a hobby until I revolutionized my life attending a fashion design course. In fact, after a few years as a medicine student (meanwhile I kept on drawing but changed my subjects into cells and organs), I decided to follow my own interests. This led me to graduate as fashion designer in Milan at “NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti”. During the years in the NABA academy, I had the amazing opportunity to improve my drawing skills, to practice the illustration in a more effective way, discovering new tools, and obviously been bewitched by fashion illustration so… here, I am!

LJ: Where and from whom do you gather the most inspiration from?

CL: I gather hints from many different sources, mainly from books, films and the web. I really enjoy myself browsing catalogues in bookstores, taking note of what hit my eyes… I have to admit that inside me houses a pretty little girl who loves fairy tales that inspire her imagination. But I’m also an up-to-date girl, a smartphone and laptop owner, who loves to spend her time browsing fashion blogs and Pinterest boards or scrolling pics on Instagram.

Sometimes the inspiration comes from a vintage illustration or old fashion magazines; I love the grace and the sinuosity of the figurines drawn by Erté and George Lepape. Sometimes I’m inspired by the style that marks an art movement, like Art Déco, Pre-Raphaelitism or Mannerism, or connotes a film (I’m thinking about Picnic at Hanging Rock or Marie Antoinette). Some other times the elegant muses from the first half of the 20th century, portrayed in black and white photos, give me the spark.

LJ: Do you think growing up in Italy has had an effect on your passion for illustration?

CL: Well, it’s quite simple for me to say “yes … a lot!” because it has been in some way easy for me to keep on something that had always played part in my life. But it’s a little more complicated to explain my reasons. So I will try to be clear.

Even if I grew up in a small town, far from the fashion week’s glitters and glamour, I would still breath in the Italian atmosphere, smelling the scent of History and Art. However, I have the luck to live literally immersed in it. Italian’s have the privilege to see beauty every day, as part of their life. This lead us to refine our perspective on beauty, developing a sort of connection with the Arts, and to be prepared to deal with visual culture.

However the heart of the matter is not only about mere appearances (concerning what we see), but it’s also about the sight itself, regarding what kind of features and meanings our senses catch and interpret. Here is the connection between fashion and drawing. Behind clothes as behind drawings lie stories, symbols and archetypes. A piece of clothing as a painting, or more properly an illustration, represents a shape picked from an author to concretize an idea. Drawing is a matter of sight inasmuch as it is “the serious study of looking”, as David Hockney said. Talking about fashion illustration, he said that “it has the power to sharpen eyes, and therefore, the rest of our senses to the world outside”. Through his drawings an illustrator can build a language, composed of signs and meanings, and make the spectator able to understand and talk making use of his alphabet… Quite difficult to not be charmed by this stuff, right?


LJ: What piece are you most proud of?

CL: My “most proud of” piece probably is my first commissioned series of fashion illustrations: a catalogue and some ads for a fashion house in Milan. Not so much for the quality of my work, I’m proud for what it meant to me, properly because it has been “the first”. It’s something like your first kiss or your first pair of heels, you know? It makes you feel so good and pretty pleased!

LJ: Who is an artist, living or dead, that you would love or have loved to collaborate with?

CL: This is a tough question because my wish list is very long, but I accept the challenge!

Just to stay on the topic, if I would have to choose between illustrators that I admire, I pick out Romain de Tirtoff aka Erté. He was a master of fashion illustration in the 19th century, especially in the early decades, a period known to history as the Golden Age of fashion illustration. I name Erté because he is one of the most imaginative and poetic authors. I admire his romantic style, the sinuous lines, the attention to details, the lightness of his figurines and the narrative power of his drawings. Every time that I see an illustration made by him, I feel like a little girl gazing a fairy tale illustrated book.


LJ: Describe your process when you are creating custom illustrations for clients like Glamour or the illustrations you created for us at LaPalme.

CL: In my illustrations I try to combine the warmth of traditional tools (like the pencil’s grain and watercolor’s hues) with the possibilities that digital offers. Once I’ve decided my subject, first I realize a preliminary pencil sketch and I continue refining it since I like what I see. Then I dish up my watercolors to realize color stains mixing different tones and playing with hues. Then I combine the drawing and the color sitting in front of my laptop, through digital tools. This is a very experimental step and sometimes the outcomes are unexpected. I let the colors lead me, combining shapes and tones. At the end of the day I cross my fingers wishing that the final result will be liked.

LJ: What is next for you?

CL: As usual I spend all of my free time sketching, doodling and looking for new fresh ideas. Even though I attended a design school, it has been the extra time I spent exercising by myself that enhanced my hand.

I’m also going to launch my web-site! Working by myself on it is keeping me really busy at the moment, but I hope that it will be soon on-line… again I am crossing my fingers!

-Connect with Camilla on Instagram-

Lauren Jeworski
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