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INSIDE OUT: Harper’s Bazaar Germany’s stunning new cover illustration.

How Nuno DaCosta made fashion pop for the magazine’s 150th anniversary celebration issue.

Written by Garrick Webster

Illustration isn’t often used for magazine covers in this day and age, but with its latest issue the German edition of Harper’s Bazaar has proven just how impactful the right piece of artwork can be. Brave, bold and pretty in pink, the image was commissioned by creative director Emrah Seçkin and crafted by fashion and beauty illustrator Nuno Da Costa.

The subject of the cover is Prada’s Fall Winter 2017 collection, which has a late-1960s, early-70s feel to it, with patchwork coats, hand-knitted scarves and the ostrich feathered, crystal fringed dress seen in the image. There’s an illustration connection behind the collection too, as it was partly inspired by the artwork of renowned artist Robert McGinnis, creator of so many iconic film posters and book jackets of that era.

“Glamorous fantasy women!” says Emrah Seçkin. “The idea was born and Nuno Da Costa was the perfect artist to transform this idea into today’s Harper’s Bazaar cover. Stella Maxwell was the model and she looks strong and cheeky at the same time. It looks mesmerising.”


New Challenges

For Nuno Da Costa, one of the most interesting things about the brief was that it presented a new challenge. “I’m not really a portrait artist, so it was about creating Stella and how I see her, but doing it in my style and when you use a colour like pink you really have to embrace it and go for it. And then there’s Prada – nothing else needs to be said about that!”

A synergy had already developed between creative director and illustrator, with Nuno Da Costa having created artwork for several earlier issues of the magazine. His first response was to produce a sketch, and then he refined and simplified it with two further iterations for Emrah to choose from.

“Even if the client is happy with my first sketch, if I feel I can do better I will keep going until it’s right,” he says. “There was a lot of movement in the first two, but I felt that the beautiful Stella and the Prada garments were so strong that they should be the focus. We ended up going with the third, simple posed sketch.”

Working on heavyweight watercolour paper, Nuno then painted up the image. “I hand paint my illustration to a point where I feel happy with it and then I scan and save my work, and that is when the fun begins… Knowing I have that option saved frees me up to get more experimental with my hand painting, it kind of releases me from the fear of messing it up. I then scan again, edit, clean up and make print ready,” he explains.

Collaborative Synergy

With creative director and illustrator feeling they were on the same page, the communication was easy. “Can you make her smile a little more – nothing crazy – just a little softer,” is the feedback that Nuno remembers most, and with Emrah’s positive feedback together they pushed the image to its maximum potential.

“We have totally the same fashion sense and we talked a lot before Nuno started work about how the model could be and how she could move,” says Emrah. “Every time I see his finished work it feels like opening a treasure box."

Originally commissioned as a subscriber-only version of the cover, Harper’s Bazaar decided Nuno’s image was so strong that it would go out on the newsstand. The magazine produced a split run, with the other cover featuring a photograph by Regan Cameron. Both covers share the pink backdrop, while Nuno had free reign to create a unique, artistic look that you can’t replicate with a camera. He focussed on the model’s beauty and her fearless stare, so that the illustration rises above all the other elements of the cover’s design.

And Nuno concludes: “I’m super happy. We created pure fashion pop Harper’s Bazaar style, and now it’s part of the magazine’s legacy, which is crazy if you think about it. Cover illustration doesn’t happen very often in fashion magazines, so each one is to be treasured. I hope I did everyone proud and helped open up that conversation a bit more.”

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