From a lipstick ad featuring a close-up of punk musician Dani Miller’s gap-toothed smile to runway looks with mascara “tears,” false-eyelash eyebrows, and glossy lips and lids on models of all genders, Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele’s vision for Gucci Beauty is invariably clever, inclusive, and subversive. As Thomas de Kluyver, Gucci’s global makeup consultant, puts it, “It’s about self-expression, identity, and fluidity.” During the film presentation of Aria, Michele’s opulent fall collection, both boys and girls walked the runway while applying lipstick and checking their reflections in glamorous gold compacts, simple gestures that defy conventional notions of beauty and manage to turn ordinary makeup objects into covetable accessories.
“There are so many different characters at Gucci,” de Kluyver says. “Sometimes they’re very natural, and it’s all about gorgeous, healthy skin, and other times the makeup is extreme.” Whatever the case, he certainly doesn’t believe in toeing a particular line when creating looks or developing cosmetics. In fact, his work is all about transcending trends and expanding the definition of beauty. “We try to create colors that will work on everyone,” says the Australian-born, London-based de Kluyver, who got his start by experimenting on himself and his friends as a teenager. “It’s such an important part of what Gucci Beauty is—and what I am about—that makeup relates to everyone, and that we can all be creative with it.”
For this story, de Kluyver enhanced models’ features with an alternately moody and sweet color palette inspired by the work of artists Matthew Barney, Vanessa Beecroft, and Rebecca Horn. “I’m obsessed with all kinds of references,” he admits, adding that the mood board in his studio is currently crammed with images from the 16th century, as well as photos of punk rockers, synchronized swimmers, and Isabella Rossellini in Wild at Heart, with her bleach-blonde crop and heavy black brows. “I’ve been watching a lot of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch films lately, and I also love this book of ’80s Araki photographs that I found during lockdown,” he says. “I love to pull things from all different places to create something completely new.”
Makeup by Thomas de Kluyver for Gucci Beauty at Art Partner; hair by Kiyoko Odo for Crazy Colour at Bryant Artists; manicure by Jenny Longworth at Streeters. Models: Yasmin Kakané at IMG; Jan Baiboon at Wilhelmina London; Hella Lund and Mary Maguet at the Squad Management; Jay Taylor at Menace Models. Set design by Danny Hyland at Streeters.
Produced by Kerry Danson at Danson Productions; photo Ttam: Max Hayter, Dan Douglass, Isabella Sporle; lighting technician: Aj Numan; retouching: Aly Studio; fashion assistant: Hollie Williamson; production assistant: Jonny Faulkner; hair assistants: Kyosuke Tanzawa, Chloe Frieda, Anoushka Daniel; makeup assistants: Lauren Reynolds, Abbie Nourse; manicure assistant: Nichole Williams; set assistants: Joseph Burke, Luke Spence.