Fashion meets fiction

HERSELF magazine is biannual fashion magazine with a difference: every image (including every single ad for brands such as Gucci, Jil Sander, Givenchy etc) is illustrated. We talked to its art director to try and find out a little more…

HERSELF magazine is biannual fashion magazine with a difference: every image (including every single ad for brands such as Gucci, Jil Sander, Givenchy etc) is illustrated. We talked to its art director to try and find out a little more…

“HERSELF celebrates the staggering power of fashion, the beauty and seasonality of its clothes, the overwhelming status of brands, the never ending fascination with celebrity and icons,” says Thorbjørn Ankerstjerne, the magazine’s art director.

“It consists of 248 entirely illustrated pages which allows us to break boundaries of time and space, travelling everywhere,” Ankerstjerne continues. “We talk to legends and fairytale princesses as we recognise in them the contemporary taste for endless possibilities.”

And so it is that in the pages of HERSELF, fiction and reality blur and we find actress Kristen Stewart pictured next to Disney’s Snow White (as on the cover, top most image), Cleopatra next to Elizabeth Taylor, and Kirsten Dunst next to Marie Antoinette. There’s even  fashion stories starring such cartoon characters as Pocahontas and the Little Mermaid modelling clothes and jewellery.

Yes, that really is Princess Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin (above) and Pocahontas, below.

So who does all the illustration? “Lula and her small team,” is the response from Ankerstjerne. Lula (no surname) is listed in the magazine as editor in chief and creative director, but just who is Lula? We visited the editor’s blog at which showcases images of an illustrated female character “on shoots” with various other, er illustrated characters…

Is Lula a fictional editor character created by Ankerstjerne?  “No,” says Ankerstjerne, “she is a very real creative director and editor in our HERSELF world.”

After our exchange, the only thing we’re certain of here at CR is that Ankerstjerne is playing his cards close to his chest. We tried one more question: does HERSELF have to get express permission from all the fashion brands that advertise in the magazine to create illustrated versions of them? “All the brands that we featured in the magazine, they all love it,” comes the reply.

To attempt to find out more, visit



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  • Monique

    It looks very pretty and is a very quirky and refreshing idea.
    But two problems with it: It must be very hard to produce and, a very big problem, it does not show clothes well at all.

  • Nice idea but the illustrations hurt my eyes.

  • AA

    I don’t find any problems with this publication whatsoever. I think it’s great that finally someone tries to do a fashion magazine which isn’t just a copy of Elle, Vogue etc. It’s inspiring and clearly shows that fashion isn’t just piles of clothes but lost of ideas coming out of many designers’ heads and minds – and expressed in an object. I think the magazine conveys that quite well.

    Would love though to see the illustrators in the magazine staff go even crazier and take the editorials even further out and not always go the normal fashion spread way.

  • Charlie

    It’s an interesting idea but the illustration is pretty grim. I think there’s strong potential but in my mind its falling a little short right now.

  • Monique

    @ AA
    Yes I agree, the problem is more that it is currently very conventional. If you are going to go to all this effort, then push form and truly turn it on its head. Why use illustration like a camera?

  • Love the overall concept of the magazine, a great way to do something new with a fashion publication and it’s really encouraging how they (seemingly) managed to convince brands to go with doctored ads.

    However like some of the comments on here I think the actual illustrations let the magazine down – they’re all too similar and some just aren’t that strong. Related to this point would a reader really be able to wade through 248 pages of illustrated fashion without disengaging? I certainly couldn’t.

    The editors would have been better chopping down the number of pages (can’t imagine how difficult/stressful it would be to be create that many illos and remain motivated/focused on doing something different each time) and then ensuring that the stories/illustrations were diverse and out there. I think reducing the size of the publication would help realise it’s potential.

  • Good idea although using one illustrator makes the whole project seem a bit flat. Maybe invite more illustrators next time. Also, making all images illustrations is not so unique an idea have a look at Second Life’s “Avenue Magazine” (only as a online magazine).

  • I have to agree with Gregory that using ONE illustrator does tend to make the project seem very “samey” from page to page.. if it was less pages the idea might have been stronger, and no doubt it is a great idea, and the fact that the BIG advertisers have jumped on board with submitting their ads as illustrations shows that this is a unique and strong idea. I just hope that they open the pages to undiscovered talent who could use a leg up and this would be a wonderful showcase of talent if done right.

  • I agree – love the idea but the illustrations feel quite samey in terms of style. Would perhaps be more interesting to send out some open briefs or get the advertisers to commission their own illustrators.

    I’ve always thought Amelia’s Magazine is very good at this exact thing – illustrated fashion. It was one of the best print illustration magazines around when it was still in hard copy (RIP the printed magazine!), and now online they do a lot of illustrated fashion reviews etc which are often very interesting.

    Nice concept, could be better executed.

  • But surely the point is that having one illustrator provides consistency within the magazine and that in itself creates the brand image, this is possibly what they were aiming for. They could have actually asked the design houses themselves to provide allternative illustrations and copy, they are usually willing if the content is relevant of a high enough quality that would reflect in their own fashion brand, just a thought!