The Tale of Kerrie & Marcel Hess
Kerrie Hess might have lived everywhere from London to Hong Kong to Paris, but her elegant Queenslander home in Brisbane is distinctly inspired by her time spent over in Paris. Over a year ago, the renowned international fashion illustrator moved back to her hometown with her son Marcel and transformed their house into a chic Parisian-inspired abode.
“When I found this house, the walls were yellow and the flooring was orange,” says Hess, laughing. “There were beautiful old Queenslander details in every corner. I couldn’t wait to just paint the whole place bright white, sand back the floors to the original wood and stain them a glossy dark walnut,” she says. She got to work and has since converted the space into a bright, airy home filled with a mix of old and new. There’s Hess’s beautiful canvases on virtually every wall, chic chandeliers, antique mirrors and piles of beautiful coffee table tomes.
Downstairs is where Hess works her magic. Her sleek office is located next to the garage, which is where she spends hours painting. While there might be pops of colour on her canvases, Hess’s house is very monochromatic. “I like colour in my office and son’s bedroom, but keep the rest of my house very neutral and monochrome because I find that most calming. These classic Parisian tones feel like a lovely mix of European styling in a Queensland setting,” says Hess.
The talented illustrator has worked for luxury brands such as Chanel, Printemps Paris, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, Collette Dinnigan and Net-a-Porter and had her work featured in publications such as Vogue, Talter and Harper's Bazaar. She is also the author and illustrator of style book Shoestring Chic, as well as a range of limited edition fashion prints. “I was that child in school that was drawing all day during class and painting on weekends. I then worked as a graphic designer in London at The Independent newspaper magazines. There was a week that a stock image didn’t come in so I illustrated the space of the editorial as we were going to print. The feedback from this one published illustration was really positive and I decided to try one year of my life as an illustrator at 19 and just see if I could pay my rent from painting. I didn’t know anyone at the time who was a fashion illustrator, so it was many years of finding my way.” That moment was over 16 years ago and Hess hasn’t looked back. While she might be kicking seemingly countless career goals, ultimately her greatest achievement is her son. “Although I honestly love the work that I am able to do, even billboards in Paris don’t compare to the feeling of knowing that my little guy is happy and healthy,” she says.
Hess has long been inspired by graceful women and applies this elegance to both her personal style and home interior. “I am inspired by strong women who have had independent careers as well as those with a sense of elegance more so than beauty. Grace Kelly is an inspiration in many of my illustrations, and Audrey Hepburn is the main inspiration around my new capsule range of ballet flats with Ballettonet.”
Kerrie’s little list of loves:
Buttery croissants in Paris
Peonies in bloom
Swimming in aqua blue water in Hawaii
The Cristal Room restaurant in Paris
Brisbane weather (where I live)
My son climbing into my bed for cuddles on weekends
Reading Life and Love by Lisa Messenger
Taking a morning coffee back to bed on the weekend
High Tea at The Langham in Melbourne
Picnics in the park in Bulimba near my place
Photography: Grace Alyssa Kyo Words: Georgie Abay