An illustrated lookbook accompanies the Malone Souliers Summer collection, which has hit the shops for a sneak preview at la Rinascente

Even if most clothing, accessories and footwear collections in the fashion world still start their journey from the realm of ideas to the real world in a drawing, a sketch on a sheet of paper, it is rather rare to see a brand choosing illustrations instead of photography for their lookbook.

And yet, even compared to the most perfect of shots, the most sophisticated styling or the best-built still life set, line drawings and brush strokes of colour are often able to pull the audience far deeper into the idea the designer wants to communicate.

After all, photography is direct evidence of reality – the chemical or digital trace of anything in front of a lens (more or less, anyway, because for years now, everything has been totally changed by photo retouching software). By contrast, for those who succeed in mastering the techniques, a drawing is the “photograph” of an idea or of one of its interpretations.

“I think that painting appeals to the fashion world because it can move people in different ways” — from a recent interview given by Esme Chapman to the Financial Times

However, given that the aim of a lookbook is to show off in order to sell, to attract the press, buyers and customers, a certain amount of courage and recklessness needs to go into producing an illustrated one. And you also have to be able to afford it: not in terms of money — hiring an illustrator is less expensive on average than calling a photographer and his/her team, finding a location and building a set — but in terms of brand credibility and image.

For a brand like Malone Souliers — that knows how to surround itself in an aura of playful sophistication and ironic splendour, establish the perfect partnerships and secure the right celebrities — it is both a matter of credibility and exquisite recklessness.

“Paintings can convey a mood, or a moment, that perhaps a photograph cannot”

The two founders, Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt, asked a very young artist who they spotted on Instagram to do the lookbook for their Spring/Summer 2017 collection: Esme Chapman.

At just seventeen years old, Chapman is actually anything but unknown, as her parents are at the helm of a leading luxury retailer, MatchesFashion; however, no strings were pulled here, because her talent is unquestionable and the Malone Souliers lookbook truly is one of those special books that deserve to be kept and placed on your bookshelf next to the art volumes.

And there’s more: created two years ago, the brand — based in London but manufacturing absolutely everything in Italy — opened a pop up shop at la Rinascente in Milan in October, and its Summer collection is also hitting the shops for a sneak preview at la Rinascente in November.