Hanro has been reinventing luxury intimates and underthings for more than 135 years – and an artistic bent has long been a part of their DNA. In recent years, artists the likes of Izak Zenous, Esther Bayer, Petra Dufkova, Marc-Antoine Coulon, and Miles McMillan have all been enlisted as collaborators.
Fittingly, then, the’ve just transformed their New York City flagship into a veritable work of art, with the installation of a one-of-a-kind, hand-painted mural by Blair Breitenstein – the celebrated fashion illustrator whose work has been previously esteemed by the likes of Prada and MAC. Recognized for her expressionist take on contemporary fashion and beauty, she has garnered a loyal following, and has been has been featured in Vogue, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar.
Influenced by fashion photography, Breitenstein exhibits an emphasis on the imperfect line, with layers of crayon, marker and acrylic – making her work instantly recognizable.
BlackBook was treated to an exclusive preview of the mural, now gracing Hanro’s Meatpacking District boutique, and were dazzled by the artist’s trademark use of slender figures, and strikingly angular faces, brought to scale in this larger-than-life piece. While staying true to that aesthetic, Breitenstein has also cleverly tapped into the essence of Hanro, showcasing a deliberate delicateness, with a soft color palette in the mix.
Following the preview, we caught up with Breitenstein to discuss this project and its importance within the context of her overall oeuvre.
We see that you use watercolor in much of your work. Is that your preferred medium?
I actually like to use markers and pastel as my preferred medium. I like the combination of textures. Markers are flat and saturated and pastels are gritty. I think the pastel elevates the marker. I also love the accessibility of those tools, you can use them anywhere – they dry fast and are clean.
What was the process of creating the mural for Hanro?
I used acrylic paint – it was different, because I had less control. When I use markers on paper, I can simply start over, and with the mural, this wasn’t the case. I had a sketch I used as a guide…and trusted myself! The key to the success of this project was not psyching myself out.
Historically, your work has been with couture and accessories, while Hanro is a brand dedicated to intimates and loungewear. How did you change your approach for this project?
I did consider the differences in how I went about it. I usually work with bright, complementary colors and exaggerated features – but the Hanro aesthetic is softer and more natural in my opinion. I discovered that I really like an earthier palette. As I planned the work, I thought about softening my usual girl – no fake eyelashes, no red lipstick: Hanro is loungewear, so the girls should look comfortable.
What inspires your design aesthetic? Over time, how have you evolved as an artist?
I love fashion photography from the 60s through the 90s – some of my favorites are Sam Haskins, Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin. I have evolved as an artist in that I tend to create artwork based on what I love, versus thinking about what people want. I think this makes my artwork better, more genuine and passionate.
We are privileged that below is an illustration that Blair Breitenstein did exclusively for BlackBook.