Beauty doesn’t always make us feel good. But we’ll get back to that.
In late September 2018, Dazed Media announced the launch of a new platform aimed at interrogating what identity is, and what it looks like, in the 21st century. Dazed Beauty is, it’s editor Bunny Kinney says, “about representing the core values of beauty which we feel represent the Dazed audience; beauty not just as a series of products and procedures, but a fundamental means of self-expression.”
As you’d expect from a publication with a history of eye-catching design like Dazed and Confused, the new proposition comes cloaked in a glossy, a la mode aesthetic that we describe to Bunny as deliciously post-internet. “If we are post-internet it’s not something I’m trying to do,” he laughs. Describing the website as just the beginning of the project he notes that the internet is where his audience congregate and share ideas about who and what they are, adding that “creatively we were excited about the fact we could invent a way showing beauty in a digital form. This is more than images on a page.”
To that end, the team — which includes Amelia Abraham as managing editor, Nellie Eden as associate editor, Tish Weinstock as commissioning editor, Saorla Houston as photographic editor and producer and Ben Freeman as creative consultant — appointed make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench as the creative director of Dazed Beauty.
What they’ve created feels radically divergent from the anodyne visual approach taken by other outlets in the beauty-sphere. This is a place where mutant metallic forms mingle with the uncanny fleshy valleys of CGI models, where bodily fluids are as prevalent as otherworldly examples of cutting-edge nail art.
Bunny is evidently excited about the appointment, telling us that “Isamaya is so into new technology and science-fiction and digital art and people using 3D scanning and other new means to create. She’s inspired by all that stuff, and it really feels like the platform reflects that.” Isamaya herself says that, “this is beauty for the social media age. Our aim is to really refine beauty itself – for everyone.”
That sense of inclusivity feels incredibly pertinent in an increasingly atomised age – especially when considered in the context of an industry that can often feel like it preys on insecurity. Most of us grow up with unrealistic ideas of what beauty is, bed by a media machine that privileges thin bodies and white skin. The standard conception of traditional beauty standard excludes the majority of us, and then sense of exclusion can manifest itself in anxious forms of self criticism. When we do not see ourselves in magazines, on runways, or plastered over billboards, we’re left to ask – what’s so wrong with the way we look?
More often than not, Bunny says, these standards are “defined by corporate white men,” and he sees Dazed’s forward-thinking approach to them as a case of “taking that power back and saying, no, we see a whole mess of young people who don’t care what corporate people say about how they look, they connect with each other to inspire each other. They do it without other people.”
Beauty, in Bunny’s eyes, is the new fashion. By that the former commercial creative director at i-D means it’s an accessible way for today’s digitally-driven youth to think about their own identity. “It’s accessible and personal in a way that fashion isn’t always.” He points to the fact that a 15 year old who wants to carve out a space in society for themselves can nip into Boots and for a few pounds walk out with something that’ll allow them to begin the process of self-exploration at pocket money prices.
Wary of adding any additional pressure to the lives of his readers, Bunny says, “I don’t want to tell anyone who that person should be. I think that’s almost too obvious to say to that audience,” stressing that an open-ended approach to the curation and creation of an identity — through beauty, through fashion, through culture — should always be encouraged. “We are here to reflect that and celebrate it and let people know whoever you want to be regardless of the motives, that’s OK. We are cool with that.”