Flower power: The De Villeneuve sisters

Daisy's an illustrator, Poppy's a photographer – and together the De Villeneuves are taking on the art world.
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The Independent Culture

It isn't always easy being sisters, but the stylish "It" girls Daisy and Poppy de Villeneuve appear to have pulled it off. London-based illustrator Daisy, 33, and her model-turned-photographer sister, Poppy, 29, who lives in New York, have embarked on their first artistic collaboration.

"The distance helps. There is an ocean between us. The time difference allowed us to work with space," says Poppy.

"Who knows what will happen when it comes to hanging – but we work well together," says Daisy.

Now a series of four paired works comprising Poppy's photographs of chivalrous men, mirrored by Daisy's illustrations, will be shown opposite each other in London.

The daughters of the Sixties fashion photographer Justin de Villeneuve – who made up his flamboyant surname and discovered Twiggy – and the Ohio-born Jan de Villeneuve, who was also a top model in the Sixties – these socialite siblings have led a bohemian life.

They grew up in Kent and then Sussex with their mother, when their parents divorced in 1984. While Poppy was sent to Bedales, Daisy went to a local school. "We were surrounded by art and photography books. Our mother is the type of woman who picked us up from ballet wearing an ostrich coat," says Poppy.

Despite living in different countries – the two sisters keep in constant touch, sending each other pictures and messages via BlackBerry. "I think we are closer now that we are older because the age gap gets smaller. When you are little, four years is big," says Poppy.

But up until now their creative missions and individual styles have never crossed.

Daisy has written and illustrated two books, including He Said She Said, on relationships, and I Told You So, which looks at bitchy friendships, both illustrated with her quirky drawings. She has also illustrated a range of household products for TopShop with her signature felt-tip drawings and customised Moët and Chandon bottles for Colette in Paris. She studied fashion design and fine art at Parsons School of Design in New York.

Her younger sister, Poppy, who at 17 found modelling dull, switched to the other side of the lens. She is now a fashion and portrait photographer whose clients include Vogue, Dazed and Confused and Jimmy Choo. Her exhibitions include The Strangers, featuring portraits of lifers at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Other photographs, with a David Lynch-vibe of motel rooms and petrol stations, were inspired by 1950s America.

She studied photography at the London College of Printing before she headed off to live in Manhattan. She collects stuffed birds and black-and-white photographs of couples. London-based Daisy collects anything with her first name on it and vintage clothes.

The artistic collaboration between the sisters kicked off with Poppy's brief to find four images of men whom she found inspiring and who portrayed an image of chivalry. She used an image of a long-bearded Daniel Day-Lewis as her starting point: "He encompasses both the look and action of chivalry," she says.

Then she cast four men who replicated that essence, including an English photographer, Bill Gentle, and the Indian American actor/jewellery designer Waris Ahluwalia, who has had small roles in his friend Wes Anderson's films, including The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

"These four are modern, talented, confident men, the type of men who are spending less time on themselves and more time on me," says Poppy. "For me, the portrait is about revealing things in the most understated way you can. It's about the personal connection we feel in men who are sensitive and real, which these four are."

Daisy then took Poppy's photographs and reflected on them in her particular illustration style. "I wanted to mirror Poppy's photographs – but make them slightly different," she says. "I work with felt-tip pens, so I did a black-and-white drawing of each guy and then added a golden colour."

This project was commissioned by Chivas Regal whisky, using Dazed and Confused co-founder Jefferson Hack as its consultant for a three-day cultural event in London that brings together design, fashion, art, music and mixology. Chivas Studio is open to the public (by registering online, see below) on 7 November.

It was the springboard the sisters needed to collaborate. "Daisy and I have very different styles and perspectives – but similarities because we have come from the same upbringing," says Poppy. "We have wanted to collaborate – but we couldn't work out how. When we were commissioned to do this project, it seemed the perfect time. I couldn't see where our meeting point was, but I realise Daisy's illustrations are direct, like my photographs."

There were minimal disagreements in the collaborative process. "We have grown up being encouraging of each other because when you are freelance you never know when you will get your next job. We have mutual respect as you have to be so self-sufficient," says Poppy.

Now Poppy wants to get her older sister Daisy on board for another photographic project. She has just photographed sextuplets for a group portrait show at London's Bloomberg Space in December – "but I am opening it up to a bigger project about family dynamics," says Poppy. "Daisy and I come from a bizarre family and I'm sure we can use this in our work. The dysfunction is confusing and we want to explore this."



Chivas Studio is open to the public on 7 November at 1 Marylebone Road, London W1. To get on the guest list, visit www.chivas-studio.co.uk and enter code: independent

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