The impact of Billie Eilish’s British Vogue June cover reached Pakistani-raised, London-based crystal artist Sara Shakeel, who then took it upon herself to transform Eilish further in her sparkly fashion.
So after Billie 2.0 left us astonished with her decision to go vogue, Shakeel’s work on Eilish’s Vogue cover landed her in the world renowned magazine as well. “She literally sprinkled fairy dust over Eilish’s custom Burberry bodices, Mugler bodysuits and McQueen corsetry,” noted the outlet, “and waved her glitter wand around Billie’s butterscotch halo in a set of twinkling interpretations of the Craig McDean portraits,” it added.
Shakeel told the publication that it took her three hours of non-stop digital ‘rhinestoning’ to make the transformation happen. She used swirling effects to suit Eilish’s reinvention and noted, “It’s the first time we have seen Billie in this way, so I wanted to create something new for her.”
From RiRi to Britney Spears, Shakeel has sprinkled her sparkle over many celebrities previously, but the artist does not care if her subject is popular or rich. “I don’t care who the person is, as long as they inspire me,” she asserted. “No matter how ordinary someone or something is, I try to make it extraordinary.”
Her page @glitterstretchmarks is representative of just that. Shakeel adds a touch of glamour to every broken piece that touches her heart, and turns her creative labour into a process of healing for herself. “People ask me to sparkle them all the time,” she shared, provided that there’s also been an influx in body builders wanting to shatter stereotypes around their physiques.
But Shakeel’s enamoring work was a product of a period of sadness, which was a result of social norms she was bound by in Pakistan. Shakeel, after staying single and failing a degree in dentistry at the age of 27, started collaging in her bedroom as a form of catharsis.
Whatever she created, found a place on her Instagram, which piqued the interest of stars, including Sarah Jessica Parker. Soon she was on a flight to Dubai to work with Reebok. Another time, on her trip to Milan, she stoned a photograph of an Emirates plane and posted it. By the time she landed in Italy, she had garnered another 300,000 followers. “It broke the internet!” she laughed.
Shakeel’s contacts with Browns Fashion and an installation at the NOW Gallery also brought her to London, where her husband is studying. “No matter how big or successful you are, crystals are mesmerising to watch,” Shakeel explained, citing her grandmother’s Swarovski collection being the source of her inspiration. “Every movement I made while playing with them when I was little changed the colours of the crystals – it was breathtaking for me,” she remembered.
Shakeel is yet to come to terms with the fact that she’s famous now – having amassed over one million followers who interact with her on her “love, light & everything nice” platform. “It’s a two-way street,” she said. “I’m a happy-go-lucky person who never dreamt of being famous, but now I’m so humbled; my work exists because of them,” she concluded.
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