There's a new, all-illustrated fashion publication in town. We try to find out if editor-in-chief Lula is real or if, as Marylin Monroe would put it, "It's all make believe..."
The world of fashion is sometimes a weird one. The web-sphere can be, perhaps, even weirder. Densely populated by fantastical characters (and/or creatures), both worlds never cease to amaze, intermingle and cause a great deal of confusion. This modern, mystical marriage gave birth to Lula, weird, fantastical, confusing – an illustrated girl, no less. The prodigal offspring started as out as a simple sketch before moving to the digital realm, gaining feathers, leathers, silks and high-heels. Before the world could say Prada, TheSubjectIKnowBest, the blog where she parades her infinite, drool-worthy wardrobe and shares whimsical conversations with an A-list of powerful friends that could drag any industry mogul to shame, became a cult pit-stop for fashion lovers, already snatching collaborations with Swide (Dolce & Gabbana’s blogzine) and Vogue Japan.
But the once-upon-a-time illustrated love story doen’t stop here for Lula. The next venture for fashion’ next superhero is a print one, where Lula fills in the shoes of editor-in-chief or HERSELF, a magazine where everything, even the ads, is illustrated. Featuring in-depth interviews with the likes of Maria Callas, Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Imelda Marcos – as well as portraits (and self-portraits) of dear buddies Frida Kahlo, Anna Dello Russo, Michelle Obama, Marie Antoinette, Grace Kelly, Diana Vreeland and even Barbie and Cinderella, HERSELF is all about posing questions and giving free reign to imagination, not a place for fashion solutions and suggestions. Like any good hero though, Lula is surrounded in mystery. Is she real, or is she ‘just’ a sketch? Is she the fashion answer for Superman and who is the Clark Kent behind her alter ego? We catch up with the girl who best describes herself through the words of Jessica Rabbit: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way”.
Dazed Digital: What is the ethos of HERSELF?
Lula: We celebrate the bold the beautiful, the infinity and beyond. We celebrate Fashion, its designers, brands, icons and their staggering work. In Ourself We Trust. Way to go.
DD: How did you prepare for the herculean task of making a magazine?
Lula: I didn't. I could never do something I fully understand: where would the surprise be? How could I be wrong then? How could I find a new path if not by loosing my way?
DD: Why print? And why now?
Lula: Why only digital? Why not now? I was born online, but for HERSELF, we felt that, wherever we want to go, we must start from paper. It's very prestigious, now more than ever.
DD: What are your personal definitions of: possible, impossible, creativity and the web?
Lula: I guess both creativity and the web are the sensational co-existence of possible and impossible.
DD: Who are your legends and heroes?
Lula: Amongst many: myself aged six. I always try to be like her: a hard believer with boundless imagination.
DD: Why a portrait issue?
Lula: I think the unconditional love for oneself, makes one think that when looking at someone else's beautiful portrait, one is staring in a mirror...
DD: What do you see when you look in the mirror, and what does the mirror see when it looks back at you?
Lula: I look in the mirror and ask "Who's the fairest of them all?". The mirror goes "Snow White". So I think, I'd better be a gorgeous illustration...
DD: What is the connection between Anna dello Russo, Frida Kahlo, Jessica Rabbit, Maria Callas, Jackie Kennedy, Cinderella and the greek goddess Athena?
Lula: It might look like they belong from different worlds: cherry hats, iconic mono-eyebrow, bombastic breast, divine voice, pink Chanel suit, crystal shoes, superpower... But they all are their very own self and it's a rare thing. They posses in-confutable style and express themselves with paradoxes of such frivolity and wisdom that never fail to awake everyone's imagination.
DD: And why did you launch a collection of silk scarves alongside the magazine? What's the story behind it? Please tell me more about your pet leopard...
Lula: We love paper. We worship paper. But who can resist silk? The collection consists of seven silk scarves: they are made in Italy (Como), set in the jungle and feature our leopard pet Tancredi. He has a wild heart, but behave exquisitely well. He was elegantly playing around all these jungles created for the Portrait Issue...a black and white frame came to mind and there was no place on earth better than a square of silk to capture this moment.
DD: How did you come up with all this crazily brilliant/brilliantly crazy concept behind Lula, TheSubjectIKnowBest, HERSELF...? Or even, where did it all come from?
Lula: At this point you must know I'm very close friend with the gorgeous Frida Kahlo, someone very associable both with brilliance and craziness. I'd wear flowers on my head too, but I really don't wanna copy her signature style. Like her, I always draw myself (because I'm the subject I know best).
Like her I don't paint (draw) my dreams or nightmares...I paint(draw) my own reality. So The Subject I Know Best is my time, a white space functioning as a diary, a pad, a digital mirror, with the great excitement of being online.
HERSELF is the wonderful world where, together with Thorbjorn and Fabio, I feature the illustrated fashion reality as perceived in an illustrated world. It's made of association, synesthetic imagery, and always the very latest fashion.
DD: This can almost start a philosophical debate: are you real? Are you really Lula? Is Lula yourself? Is Lula HERSELF? Is HERSELF yourself? Who is HERSELF?
Lula: Let's cut it then, with philosophical elegance: I'm an illustrated girl, running on high heels and never forgetting to apply black mascara whose soul lies in the world of HERSELF where its chaos...gives birth to a dancing star. (I had to borrow from my friend Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche for this one...)
DD: Do you follow your dreams, stalk your dreams, or chase your dreams?
Lula: My dreams and I are inseparable, bounded to the core, consumed by love. I live for them.I'm dedicated, faithful, honest. My profound commitment is proved by arguing and fighting with them. Pushing them away, pulling them back, thinking weather they are really what I want, making them jealous at times. They tear me apart, make me wonder, but they are always there for me with such strength. They are the ones!
DD: Do you want to change the way that illustration is perceived?
Lula: I have changed the way I perceive it. It's not strictly for decoration or explication . It's not only design at its birth. Its the ultimate ticket to everywhere.
DD: Peter Pan never wanted to grow older, Pinocchio was a wooden boy that wanted to be real, Ariel was a mermaid that wanted to belong in the human world, Lula wants to belong in the fantasy world...is there a pattern here? Did you get all you wished for?
Lula: I'm not even half way! I don't have a lamp, or a wand. My shoes are Alaia, Louboutin, Givenchy, not crystal. My wish list is still full of un-thicked boxes.
DD: What are the future plans for HERSELF? And what is the future of traditional media?
Lula: HERSELF has a million plans, using different media, keeping exploring, translating everything into everything. The "Like" button is a blue version of Caesar's thumbs up.
I think traditional media still has a long life because it can feed the new, like the new will always count on traditional, creating each other and us. The web is the best possible place to celebrate traditional media and... they'll live happily ever after!
I think Lula is on to something....she's definitely made a fan of me.