Simplicity is an underrated virtue – particularly when it comes to fashion illustration. At times the best means of getting a point across is the least complicated one. Armed with little more than a skillful use of watercolor and precise cardboard cutouts artist Mats Gustafson is able to translate some of the most intricate designs into minimalist abstractions. His works are as powerful as they are restrained – take the series of muted profiles Gustafson created for Tiffany and Co. Though the company itself is known for having the most scintillating gems around there is no excess to be found within the ads – just softly fading almost transparent colors outlining a set of spare sirens. Even the strings of pearls and diamonds are nearly intangible, blending into the trademark Tiffany blue so subtly one might think they were illusions.
The illusory has a place within Gustafson’s work – the women he portrays are somewhat vague and detached from reality. The mystery that surrounds his female subjects verges on anonymity. Women are nameless, faceless and defined only by their style of dress. Clothing either merges into their bodies or eclipses them entirely. While such portrayals of femininity can spark interesting debate on gender, one has to wonder if Gustafson is making a commentary on the nature of fashion itself. Perhaps a knowing wink at the power clothes maintain over our identities.