“J’adore ma Choupette, mais when she turns tail…it tears me apart! Everytime.”


(note the tiny man in black above!)

This is the story of how this portrait of Karl and Choupette was inspired by the annoying pony tail of my friend “Coco” (her real nickname.)  At a bar one night, Coco’s pony tail was whipping me in my face every time she turned around.

First, an interlude.  I am writing this post just as Karl’s Chanel’s airport-themed show in Paris is happening.  Strap yourself in, this is the invite to the Chanel show and now… my little story of how a kitty tail whipping revealed the heart of The Kaiser, Karl Lagerfeld.

Chanel seat belt

I came home from the bar-tail-whipping and drew this sketch of a little ponytail and wrote, “Love ‘Coco’ but when she turns her ‘tail,’ it knocks me out every time!” intending to draw the little humorous scenario the next day.

Turn tail

On next day, when I began to think about how to draw Karl Lagerfeld for Paris Fashion Week coming up, I had a few sketches drawn and then my eye caught this little pony tail drawing on my desk.

I filled it in…it looked just like a sad Karl, vulnerable in a dramatic cape or dressing gown at home.

Choupette Tears Karl Up 2

Karl is one of the most confident humans on the planet…with all the sartorial symbols and attitude worthy of a distinctive, warrior-like portrait.

Karl Lagerfeld

However, drawing that would be too easy.  I find that when I follow the trail of subconscious symbols winking at me, the real portrait appears.

The tail switching in my drawing made me think of Karl’s famous princess cat, Choupette, (owner of two maids and an Instagram account.)  When she’s upset…or ‘turns tail’…this may be the only thing in the whole Universe that saddens The Kaiser!

I like seeing the vulnerability in powerful people.  Certainly Karl is a very thoughtful, sensitive man with a knowledge and interest in many subjects, although he bellows and issues proclamations, leading one to philosophical questions, beyond fashion.  Having stood in his presence several times, as he clipped out “missives” I can vouch for this!

Chanel’s signature quilting conveys status by way of comfort, a cross-hatch inspired by the tweeds and plaids of Scottish hunters as camouflage. This play of opposites is the dynamic of our world. The windows, the portes, the gates through which we frame and see the world.

Anything soft and fluffy is our emotions floating, through.

Choupette and Karl Lagerfeld

I didn’t have to do a lot of visual research for this one, I live with a cat.  In googling, I did come across this sappy white kitten, very Princess.  Her fur got me tearing up white paper for the fur in the drawing.  The white lightening soon followed.

Here is the actual Choupette:


Choupette’s fluff and kitty fur frenzy called for the seat-belt-securely-fastened-in of Karl’s Chanel show invitation.  The ‘kitty-korner’ borders, much like the Chanel interlocking ‘C’s’ came next.


Coincidence that the tail of a French girl named “Coco” inspired this image?
I must have been “Chanel-ing” the real Coco Chanel.

Karl Lagerfeld sketch of Coco Chanel

I will offer a print of Choupette and Karl soon on my site, have a look here in the meanwhile!


Love affairs with Italy are like living in a sensory masterpiece.  If you’ve never rode a Vespa in the Tuscan hills in a haze of fireflies; breathed in Lake Como’s cool, magical, early am mist; savored the earth in a Piedmont organic wine or kissed a hot Italian with long, rivulets of curly hair in a tight T-shirt wet with desire, balancing on cobblestones throbbing with the horses thundering 20-feet away in Siena’s Palio…well, then you haven’t lived.

I suppose, having done those things, I have truly lived…yet, magical beings are Great Italian Love Songs, forever a siren to my heart.

Vogue Italia, and its editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani reign as large for me as Michelangelo, Sophia Loren, Bellini, Botticelli, Fellini, or that space between God’s finger and Adam in the Sistine Chapel.

The Birth-of-Venus

When you meet her in person, as I have, she is a tiny glowing light, with cascading golden waves of hair and brilliant blue eyes like the sea of Botticell’s Venus. Radiating just as one who has re-invented a fashion magazine as a cultural flashlight, shining a light on social, political, racial, and environment sustainability issues should radiate, a beacon.

What other fashion luminary is Ambassador Against Hunger of the United Nations World Food Programme?  Consider Sozzani’s “The Black Issue,” entirely devoted to the beauty of black women.  Her “Makeover” issue explored plastic surgery.  Her initiatives in Africa are one of the reasons we met and the L’Uomo Vogue “Rebranding Africa” issue, was awarded several international prizes.

As September 2015’s Milan Fashion Week ends, here is the behind-the-scenes story of my illustration of Franca Sozzani.

Franca-Sozzani-goldShe’s a petite powerhouse.

Exactly why this K-tel Records album cover pulsated with that 1960’s film light that runs through the blood of Italians and Italy I cannot explain.  But when great art hits you…you obey.  The golden lettering felt cheesy and brilliant at the same time.


I had just seen John Singer Sargent’s portraits of the art collector, philanthropist, and impressario, Isabella Stewart Gardner at the Met Museum in NYC.  Her tight black dress against the pattern rug, radiating, made me think of Franca’s combination of old-world Italian beauty combined with a libertine kind of flying, a way of perceiving and embracing the world…

and then, the slashing lines of futurism, whether in the Prada dresses of my favorite ad…


or a building or a poster like this one by Giacomo Balla, Abstract Speed + Sound, circa 1913–1914.

Surely the influence of my favorite album cover, Ramsey Lewis’ Sun Goddess was on my mind.

gold sun goddess copy
Accessories? I gave her Italian boots for sure:


And her most recent red carpet look, this Valentino dress, something ecstatic between flowers, tapestry and digital game patterns.

This dress perhaps encapsulates this LOVE I have for Franca.  The abstract, humanitarianism, and connection to the vital, the nature of life’s timeless expression.  Standing in a long line from Renaissance artisans to Fiorucci to Valentino and Prada and Franca’s art of expanding the role of media, this is what makes her a true pioneer.  This is my ‘love song’ to her!

Franca-Sozzani-Jade-DresslerMy illustration of Franca Sozzani will be available on my shop, The Jade Dress Shop.

Grace-Jones-Jade-Dressler“Heeeeere’s Grace!”

“I’ll never write my memoirs, there’s nothing in a book. Love me in a picture, Kiss me in a cast, Touch me in a sculpture, Whisper in my mask.”


Grace Jones has been my #1 favorite since the night I saw a video at a house party, a bright spot in a dark room full of dancing, partying people.  Her image and haunting vocals seared through my world, the first words sung describing how I felt about art, life, love, and sex.

Her romp through Paris, her life at the edge of excitement, the detached voyeur of all of it…the soul of someone living a memoir, a life off the charted map, never needing to document it.

Grace Jones at the dinner party in her honour at Les Tuleries. April 5, 1986 © Patrick McMullan

Grace Jones at the dinner party in her honour at Les Tuleries. April 5, 1986, © Patrick McMullan

Grace actually penned my favorite song Art Groupie, where she famously declares she will never write her memoirs.  The song will be forever changed when her memoir publishes September 29, 2015.

She was a must for my portrait series, however, being imagined perhaps more creatively than any other being on earth by top art directors, how very daunting to endeavor to create anything original!  Trying to do that simply would not do.  I had to “lust her in her mask.” I rolled through my favorite GJ ‘Art Groupie looks,’ interwoven in my life.  I turned her music, and just as I have since my 20’s, belted out Grace.

Yes, I had to catch the chilling androgyny…

…and the “this is so much fun” Grace laughing at it all.  It’s that turn of her head, the sideways shaman eyes.  I always draw people in movement, even here, Grace’s face in motion, turning.  The look that wakes one up, like ‘the toll of the bell.’


Once I captured that sideways eye in my first sketch,


We were on.

The iconic images were going to arise, how could they not? How could I pay homage and not weakly replicate as Grace has rightly accused the pop singers today?  How could I not think about that too much and just feel?  More Dancing. More Singing.


The 1980 video for Private Life where Grace removes her own face as a mask…

The Jean-Paul Goude elongated Shiva yoga pose of Grace evolved into a multi-legged dancer.  Shiva dances as his foot is being bit by the snake, again that moment of realization, enlightenment, dissolving of boundaries, masks.


…the pen is her determined legs slowly marching up the steps in Libertango…


The plumed pen central for the writing and…

Feather dance
…then I realized it recalled the feathers on the top of masks.

And then I saw the mask right in front of my nose!  The mask sculpture, on my desk, which gave her the beard…

Grace’s purple skin was perhaps the last element.  I was most impacted by the feeling of these two images:

Grace Jones 1
I loved the eye in this 1938 Harper’s Bazaar cover, for the feel of Paris that floats through Grace’s music.

Grace Jones-Harpers-eye
In the midst of drawing Grace, I visited the John Singer Sargent show at the Metropolitan Museum and was struck by the makeup of Madame X and Sargent’s portrait of Le Carmensita, the capturing of enigmatic performers and ‘self-possessed’ women.

Madame Xla-carmencita

In pondering The Face of Grace, one of my favorite images, Kim Novak entering Ernie’s in Vertigo, came up on my screen with its hot purple, red and turquoise.  There it was again, that sideways look of a woman ‘in a mask’, a double…and Grace became purple.  Doubling again, the visit to an art museum, gazing at a portrait, the resemblance. Again my life echoes adventures with Grace!

vertigo-blue-green-evening-dress-800x448 copy
This is why Grace is purple.  Go back to Nightclubbing image, it was the blue-black-purple of her skin that entranced!

Completely unconsciously, the word ‘Memoir’ on her lips evolved, perhaps for the intense way a word curls off Grace’s lips.  As I played, it alternately read ‘Me Voir’ (French word for To See) or ‘Me Noir’ and hmmm, the red paper I chose for her lips hovered in red-ball gag territory.  And is that an alien at her third-eye?  Not planned!

Grace-Jones-Jade-Dressler A giclee print of this Grace Jones illustration is published on the day her memoir hits the shelves, here on my shop, www.thejadedressshop.com.
The lyrics to Art Groupie:
I’ll never write my memoirs,
There’s nothing in my book,
The only way you see me an Art Groupie,
I’m hooked.
Some people like to be used,
I’ve been used and amused,
But that’s the way I see me,
My Art Groupie look.
Love me in a picture,
Kiss me in a cast,
Touch me in a sculpture,
Whisper in my mask.
Don’t ask me any questions,
My personal life is a bore,
Admire me in glory,
An Art Groupie. That’s all.
Love me in a picture,
Kiss me in a cast,
Touch me in a sculpture,
Whisper in my mask.
I’ll never write my memoirs,
There’s nothing in my book,
The only way you see me an Art Groupie,
I’m hooked.





The Glamorous Mariner

Number 3 in my illustration series of magical people.
London Fashion Week opens. Who personifies London fashion? There’s just one answer. Daphne Guinness.
Royalty. Singular Vision. Eccentricity. Rarity Among Women. Obsession.

She is an artist, an icon, a muse.  I begin delving into photos, videos.


The process of capturing the essence of an icon, already endlessly captured and dissected…becomes like making love.

  1. I have a porn-fest, watching hours of videos on her
  2. I capture stills in my mind and online
  3. I run around studio like a shaman picking up visual clues, inspirations.

“She is a tiny insect, a fish out of water,” I thought and astonished that the classic fish of Dr. Seuss matches what I already had as a pencil sketch!

Fish out of water
I go to my Hammond’s Nature Atlas, circa 1960-ish, for insect research and open to this image of a sailfish, a ‘Glamorous Mariner’ …the complex, pointy, flying insect/fish/mammal living between worlds.

I scan the sailfish, I love the fin, it’s like Daphne’s hair for sailing in the air…a “fish out of water” that can fly.

Realizing my first sketch already channeled the Dr. Suess blue fish’s fashion pose, I begin to relax into the experience.

Sailfish blue fish

Let’s make some more love…

  1. I edit more stills
  2. I dance to UK garage and house music
  3. Stretch, breathe, feel the sheepskin from the UK on my chair
  4. Breathe deep, touch, tweet, connect

Daphne-Guinness-Instagram 1

  1. I take stills and make into a new movie, I play with my tweets;-)
  2. Everything I thought is turned upside down
  3. Daphne’s rhthym is taking over

I scan the sailfish and a large oak leaf I pressed in the book falls out.  That’s her too.

The oak leaf has fins at the end, tiny, tiny hair like curls.  The sort of finish that Daphne’s constructed frail/strength is.  Like the amazing ends of house music anthems I have been listening to.  A crush of beats to immerse in and at the end a tiny cymbal flash, or one note.  Like the Sanskrit word “iti” I always loved.  It means “and so on…” “Infinity.”

Giselle Bundchen-Chanel-lef

I open another book, Harper’s Bazaar Greatest Hits, just for random fun to this portrait of Gisele Bundchen in Chanel, taken as her then new boyfriend, Tom Brady walks in the door. It’s that new love ‘fan’ of excitement that I also want to capture in the Daphne portrait.  After all, in the classic myths, she is a nymph, a tiny new-born insect, changed to a tree by her father to escape Apollo chasing after her.  A laurel tree whose leaves will crown winners in many cultures.
I love this ‘between all worlds’ feeling.  If I am in it, then so is my creation.  I see a little ‘sketch’ I did last week of one of my favorite photographs.  I will incorporate this in Daphne.  The umbrella.  The Sea.


The wings of this moment play off this photograph representing the end of a era with a certain boyfriend.  Another aspect that Daphne embodies…the fragile Angel, a Victorian, Gothic, deathly pale Morticia…

Her tight black suits, her love of armour, hoods…

Daphne-Guinness-in hallway
…like a fallen leaf, swirling on its way down from a tree, propelled by its stem, like Daphne’s famous heel-less shoes.  (Yes, this includes her delicate fall at Alexander McQueen’s funeral, a fall that was sadness itself.)


I made her shoes end in a delicate stem of the leaf barely touching the earth for her changeling status, gave her metal gauntlets, and two topsy-turvy bowls of vulnerable goldfish to balance on her pert shoulders.

I wanted digital portraits of her and the sea to be the scales of her fin and I dangled portraits of her from her umbrella as her public image is part of her armour.

Finally, balancing a square, digital world of interface gave the ‘reason’ Daphne is a magical being navigating the modern world.
You can purchase a giclee print of this Daphne Guinness portrait here.




NYFW- 3-for-the-Front-Row-Jade-Dressler3 for the Front Row. The Lion Queens.

Meeeow! All hail the Queens I would love in the front row for my New York Fashion Week show!

Caitlyn Jenner, Anna Wintour, and Beyonce make a nice trio of Kittens for the Catwalk!

The inspiration began with Anna and her iconic, yogic Eagle pose she curls into when in the front row.

As prime eagle eye of the fashion industry, her pose is perfection!  Beside her famous dark glasses, and Egyptian coif, she repeatedly sports simple golden lizard kitten heels.

I was struck how this pose reminded me of my favorite guardians in New York City, the row of Sahkmet goddesses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Cat Goddess Sahkmet
Caitlyn came next…who else will be the Star of NY Fashion Week 2015?  She declined to walk the runway and I don’t know if she is attending, however, this lioness deserves to lounge on the front row. The “Hello Kitty” on her dress was not planned…I just heard it in my head after drawing Caitlyn as a large kitty. In part this is due to the “Call Me Caitlyn” greeting that forevermore will be her mantra.

My image of her was also inspired, of course, by her Vanity Fair cover…

…and this behind-the-scenes portrait, which I love for her soft look on her face.

Beyonce is #3 Goddess, just for her bouncy all-around, wholesome goodness.  That’s 95% of the crowd at Fashion Week and her golden dress and tresses from photos inspired her innocent “Me! Wow” meow comment.

The image of serene Beyonce while North West wailed was my starting point as I love her golden, ego-less, not-my-kid, put-a-drink-on-it, Lioness image:

Beyonce in the Front Row
On top of it all, the way each person rarely relates to the other, and affects an isolated “game-face” while sitting in the front row is as endlessly fascinating (sometimes more than) what pads by on the runway.

Today is the opening day of NY Fashion Week 2015…let’s see if this trio of Lion Queens becomes catwalk history!

NYFW- 3-for-the-Front-Row-Jade-Dressler

You can buy a print of this sassy catwalk illustration by Jade Dressler here.

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