Young people are concocting crazy looks and crafting together their own identity through beauty.
The beauty industry is being redefined for the digital era as social media democratizes creative influence and a young generation rewrites the rulebook. In September 2018, Dazed Media announced the launch of Dazed Beauty, addressing the language and communication of beauty in the digital era and how the formation of digital tribes is giving rise to a new aesthetic and definition for beauty.
Bunny Kinney, editor-in-chief of Dazed Beauty, is leading the charge alongside creative director and makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench, and art director Ben Freeman. Here, Kinney speaks to us about an anti-beauty movement, AI (artificial intelligence) makeup, and how young people are working together to save the future.
What is the idea behind Dazed Beauty?
Dazed Beauty is more in line with the grassroots beauty movement on, for example, Instagram, where young people are concocting crazy looks and crafting together their own identity through beauty, connecting with peers both in their own community and through digital communities, and forming digital tribes. Here they write about what identity means to them and what it looks like through beauty, outside of what the beauty industry would say. We saw this evolution—no, revolution!—and thought, “That’s cool, we want to be part of that,” and give power to all the young people who are rewriting the rules of beauty.
How is social media influencing the beauty industry?
Social media to some extent has democratized the conversation around many parts of life and culture, but beauty is certainly a notable category. It has disrupted an old model by which publishers, editors or marketeers have previously defined the trends. Now there’s a landscape of people, particularly young people, who don’t require that in order to get their ideas or discover new ones. Through this democracy we allow for more visibility and representation of groups that might previously have been marginalized, silenced or not visible at all, certainly within mainstream fashion and beauty communications. Now brands are responding. They realize it’s important for people to see themselves and connect with people who are portrayed in media and the beauty industry.
What beauty themes are you noticing?
I think that representation, inclusivity and diversity are still fundamental to the interests and values of the Dazed audience at large. If you’re a beauty brand or publisher and you don’t consider inclusivity and representation, then you’re pretty much completely ignorant of the way the world is moving. It’s hard because it looks like it’s a trend, especially now when mainstream brands are finding ways to weave it into their narratives through advertising, but if it’s not executed authentically it may be greeted with a degree of cynicism. Sometimes representation doesn’t have to be spoken of explicitly, it should just be inherent.
The topic of sustainability has been a huge point of concern over the last few years, if not longer. Across the board we’re moving from what felt like a message about individuality and expressing yourself to what is good for the world. What I’m noticing is an interesting … I want to call it a ‘counter movement’—that’s the next phase of this individualism—whereby people are really thinking about the world around them. I think now it’s about striking a balance between one’s own desires to be better, and being aware that that is going to be part of something bigger. Now suddenly it matters what you’re doing for the world and the community you’re in. We realize we need to work together to save the future. That’s the space we’re heading towards in the next few years.
Does this tie in with generation Z values?
Young people are seeing that they are inheriting a world that is in danger of expiring and that a lot of decisions made by older generations will directly impact them, and not necessarily for the better. In response to that, we are seeing a greater sense of value and interest in having a point of view and being an activist. I feel that’s the natural by-product of starting to feel slightly existential about what we’re all here for. As a young person, if you’re seeing all these decisions being made that will impact you that can be really scary. The pragmatic and necessary response is to try to pursue a life where you can fix those problems and you can make the world better not just for yourself but perhaps for the generations that will come afterwards. The urgency of reinforcing those values is greater than ever before.
The features on Dazed Beauty really push the extremes of what beauty can look like. They include an artist who finds beauty in the grotesque and a makeup artist who explores “mutant beauty.” What is beauty through the lens of Dazed?
There’s an anti-beauty movement going on that’s looking at more extreme manners of transformation, whether that’s through cosmetics, surgery or technology. Something we’re seeing now is this alien-beauty trend, and I think that’s just a natural evolution of how people intellectualize and creatively explore any aspects of culture. People recognize beauty as a way of transformation. Being scary or ugly is part of that. Beauty is not synonymous with looking good, because looking good is a subjective idea. Beauty is not a fixed concept. There’s an artistry to what they’re doing too.
Dazed Beauty recently named virtual influencer Lil Miquela as an arts editor. Can you tell me about that decision?
She represents interesting moments in the way we consider the virtual and the real worlds. The idea of the AI or computer-generated figurehead or model or celebrity we have seen in the course of the past five years or so. And now it’s more prominent and it’s an exciting development in culture. Lil Miquela, through her Instagram, has an interesting point of view and represents a new definition of what a model can be. We’ve been collaborating with her and we’ve been inviting her into our world more formally because we think she represents the future of beauty, and that’s the core mission of Dazed Beauty—we feel that we are the future of beauty and we want to reflect that in everything we do, and she represents a legitimate part of that evolution.
One of your articles covered an AI beauty line—another spectrum of beauty.
That’s an interesting space to watch. There’s a subculture of people who play virtual role-playing games and will download, collect, create, share and use virtual beauty products that exist only in those worlds. That’s a really fascinating development. Over the next generation we’re going to see huge amounts of progress and development in the space of AI that will have real world effects and impact not least of all beauty.
What’s next for Dazed Beauty?
We’ll be launching something in print in early 2019. It will be a limited-edition, exclusive book that will be a collection of new work and imagery and writing that is inspired by our launch theme—looking at the future of beauty.