Picture this: Your illustrations rendered in opulent textiles, draped on the shoulders of nymph-like models traipsing across the Trevi Fountain. Not only did you have to be extremely talented, you also had to have lived during the early 20th century. To be more precise, you had to have been the Kay Nielsen — a renowned children's book illustrator whose art just happened to inspire Karl Lagerfeld's recent Fendi couture collection.
You could say that Lagerfeld took a leaf out of Nielsen's book when he sent the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid down the runway in a fairytale-like spectacle. If you have an eye for folklore, you'll already notice characters from TASCHEN's reprint of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. It's a collection of 15 fairy tales originally gathered in the early 1900s by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe, the Norwegian folklorists also behind Three Billy Goats Gruff. Featuring 46 of Nielson's illustrations that inimitably reflect the pastoral tenor of the fables, the finely crafted reprint is a nod to the history of Norwegian folklore.
What did Lagerfeld borrow from East of the Sun and West of the Moon? Its whimsy and artistry — you can spot the collection's appliqués and languid silhouettes from anywhere in the book. What a way to showcase three levels of storytelling, with creatives from different time periods leveraging on the talents of their predecessors, creating work of unrivalled finesse.
"The tales have proved yet again to be eternally inspiring," piqued the book's editor Noel Daniel upon seeing Fendi's interpretations of the book. "It's an extraordinary experience to see East of the Sun and West of the Moon take on a totally new life in the hands of Karl Lagerfeld, and it's an absolute delight to see how the images directly inspired his 90th anniversary show. The artistry and craftsmanship and love behind each flower, each branch, each hue of sky is unbelievable."
See the stories come to life in your hands. TASCHEN's East of the Sun and West of the Moon is available online.