Spooky Kid’s Extreme Beauty Celebrates Acne and Transforms the Body

“I’m just really interested in the notions of beauty and ugliness,” Spooky Kid tells Vogue. “I find it really interesting to turn something undesirable into an aesthetic goal.” The French-born, London-based DJ and designer creates performative fashions ranging from pillowy cocoons to reflective inflatable suits accessorized by lobster claws and cone collars he utilizes to “create an extension of my own silhouette,” and makeup techniques intended to appear “like a skin disease, or like chickenpox.” The latter reflects his own reaction to the stress of moving from Montmélian, a small town in the French countryside, to The Smoke two years ago without a cushy setup–just one bag and a plan to learn English while finding work. “I got a really bad acne case when I first moved to London,” Spooky Kid shares. “I decided to celebrate it.”

Thanks to the universal language of basement club dancing, he found a space where his ideas could expand. Though he doesn’t always consider what he creates “fashion,” Spooky Kid pulls inspiration from designers and artists who exaggerate the proportions of the human body through clothing, like Rei Kawakubo and Leigh Bowery. “I think he really pushed this art of dressing up to a point where he would just go out and he would feel physically uncomfortable in the costume he was wearing,” says Spooky Kid of Bowery, who similarly moved to London from Australia as a party promoter, muse, and face of the underground New Romantic movement. As someone who has suffered from body dysmorphia since the age of sixteen, Spooky Kid also references the experience through his designs, which are often stuffed with balloons that can be manipulated at will. “Creating my pieces was, and is, a way for me to transform the shapes of my body,” he says.

To begin the transformation, cosmetics serve a role without taking total focus. “I pretty much always used cheap makeup, as I’m not looking for a polished result–I hate polished makeup,” Spooky Kid notes. “I just really make sure to protect and take care of my skin with products from the brand The Ordinary.” After applying primer, a stick of white foundation creates a familiar base–in his youth, Spooky Kid tried out goth looks with inky lipstick, black hair dye, and a paled-out complexion. “I was at school and a teenager told me, ‘Oh, you look like Marilyn Manson,’ and I was like, ‘Who’s that?’ and he was like, ‘Oh, just a weirdo killing chicken onstage,’” he remembers. The comparison ultimately led to his alias, pulled from the original band name Mariyln Manson and The Spooky Kids.

Today, red eyeshadow and a light dusting of Revolution Pro Supreme Highlighter serve to offset a meticulously painted canvas of inflamed “spots” and blemishes accentuated with dots of white liner. In the final flourishes of his look, Spooky Kid draws on an extended black lip that resembles the curves his signature suit might make if caught in a windtunnel. “I love to do my lips in this shape because I think it looks a bit futuristic,” he says before applying layers of novelty lenses and chalky false eyelashes. Eyebrows and hair are shaved smooth, save for two patches at the top of his head that can be waxed into sculptures to match the day’s mood. This expansive forehead landscape glorifies the stylized receding hairline look that experimental German vocalist Klaus Nomi—one of Spooky Kid’s musical references—made famous. “I’ve always listened to musicians that would represent, to me, a rebellion against intolerance, beauty standards, and toxic masculinity with repulsive or iconic visuals, such as Divine, Klaus Nomi or Rammstein,” says Spooky Kid, who started music production on his own tracks this summer and plans to eventually release a series of mixes.

Happy with his makeup results, Spooky Kid selects a cone-to-toe covering of polka dots on Eilish-green spandex for a walk through The Hill Garden and Pergola in Hampstead Heath. “I’m going to take a couple of my friends for walks because I feel like they need some fresh air after the lockdown,” he says of @trashedbaby and @traumagurlz, who wore Spooky Kid’s designs for the occasion. In broad daylight and outside of the foggy nightlife scene, the looks are often received with appreciation from locals. Still, what’s feeling new today might induce boredom tomorrow. Spooky Kid is already interested in transitioning from “turning a look to go out” to creating performances that encourage others to interact with unfamiliar body proportions. “It’s all a work in progress. In the future, I expect to evolve on what I am currently doing and take on more ambitious projects, allowing me to express myself in more compelling ways, he says. “To be inquisitive is important, I think, especially during 2020.” 

Director: Posy Dixon

Producer: Liv Proctor, LUCA

Editor: Daniel Poler

Director of Photography: Henry Lockyer

1st AC: Mitchell Collins

Sound Recordist: Matthew Groark

Colorist: Ryan Powell

Post Production Manager: Marco Glinbizzi

Photos Courtesy of: Alex Matraxia, Amber Mae Yilmaz, Anthony Lycett, ARNOW, Blanche Peulot, Damien Frost, Elle Dodds, Ethan Jones, Gemma Bell, HE.SHE.THEY., Isabella Barter, MØNSTER QUEEN, [ NO ONE_STUDIO ], Spooky Kid, TREMORS

Special Thanks To: Traumagurlz (Melanie Joseph), Trashedbaby (Michael Cotter)

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