Rendered in bold primary hues, the femme characters in Amber Vittoria’s illustrations tend to have proportions that are far from realistic. A stippling of blue triangles portrays body hair; limbs elongate in ways that are not humanly possible; outsize hips are many times the size of tiny heads.
The comically oversized nature of Vittoria’s characters contrasts with the thin and hairless body typically seen in fashion imagery. Shown reclining in bikinis, practicing yoga, striking a pose, the women in Vittoria’s work are elegant and playful, unmistakably self-assured.
“My aim is to break down the stereotypes society has set up for women, both physically and emotionally,” says Vittoria. “Showcasing women who fall outside the societal convention of female beauty, and having those pieces resonate with people, will incrementally widen what is accepted as ‘beautiful.’”
Vittoria cites the painters Dana Frankfort and Jenny Saville as inspiration. Like Vittoria’s illustrations, Frankfort’s abstract paintings are often imbued with a pop sensibility, full of contrasting colors and scrawled lines of text. Saville, on the other hand, is a British painter known for her grotesque images of women, often depicted deformed or brutalized. The effect her work gives is unsettling, but it’s easy to see why Vittoria looks to Saville; she, too, shows the female form in a starkly different light from what is usually expected.
Vittoria has worked with Teen Vogue, Refinery29, Saks Fifth Avenue, and a number of other high profile brands and fashion-minded publications. A recent commission for 7 For All Mankind’s Instagram was one of her favorite works. “Showcasing women that don’t align with societal tropes of femininity is key in ridding of said societal tropes in the fashion world,” Vittoria says of this project, which features a series of hairy women in playful poses. Situating her work in the context of luxury brands, Vittoria offers a way forward into a different kind of fashion world—one where high fashion is no longer at odds with most bodies.