The Ultimate Makeover

In MOVE!, James Kaliardos and Cecilia Dean are challenging gender boundaries with makeup.


With their ongoing project Move!, Visionaire founder Cecilia Dean and artist David Colman connect visual artists with fashion designers, to often surprising effect. The fourth iteration of Move! opens this week at Brookfield Place in the Financial District (Friday and Saturday, Oct 2nd and 3rd, 12-8; Oct 4th, 12-7) and features Rob Pruitt, Ryan McNamara, Proenza Schouler and Italo Zucchelli, just to name a few. In advance of the event, Dean and makeup artist (and fellow Visionaire founder) James Kaliardos give us the inside scoop on one of the seven installations—a gender-bending makeover session, aptly entitled Crossover.

How did Crossover germinate? James: Ever since Cecilia started doing Move!, in 2010, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get involved. We wanted to do something with makeup, so one idea we considered was mud wrestling in makeup pigments with my assistant. And then we thought transforming one gender to the other would be great. Cecilia: And very timely. James: Not because of Caitlin [Jenner], either. We’ve been thinking of this for a long time. Whenever I’ve transformed a woman into a man using makeup, this radical thing happens. She is suddenly allowed to behave any way she wants to. They become much more bossy, strong, and aggressive. C: When we did this to [British DJ] Chelsea Leyland for our film, her whole personality changed, and you can see it on camera. As soon as she saw what she looked like, the entire way she acted and sat, and looked and tilted her head, changed. It was really fascinating.

And what happens when you transform a man into a woman? Cecilia: I feel like we’re more used to seeing that. James: A few years ago, I would’ve done it more “draggy,” but I’ve seen how you can feminize someone in a subtle way. Also, I just want to add that this is not about making fun of transgender people. Transformation is something I’ve been working with my whole life, whether transforming someone into movie star or a creature or even a junkie from the ‘90s. And when you’re just doing someone’s face (versus their entire body), there’s this revelation: how you see yourself when you step into this other version of yourself.

So you how will it work at Brookfield Place? Cecilia: You show up, you sign up, sit in a chair and James does your makeup. And it’s all documented on film, so everyone can watch it. We’re also going to try to set up cameras from the makeup artist’s perspective so people can watch the transformation in real time. James: So people can see the real energy and effort that goes into it and their reactions. Cecilia: So you can see you all of James’ tricks of the trade. James: Well, yeah, but because it’s the opposite sex, it’s a different set of tricks.

What about the other installations? Cecilia: Ok, I’ll give you one. “Pose” is a collaboration between performance artist Ryan McNamara and Diane Von Furstenberg. You enter into Ryan’s space and choose a DVF wrap dress. Then you get a very quick hair and makeup, go on set with Ryan and he puts you in these very precise poses and you get photographed. It’s done out in the open so people can watch. Then, instantaneously, the photos uploaded on a computer, silhouetted and made into a textile pattern. Then you can go to and order a DVF wrap dress with the textile print of you on it. We did one as a test. James: Then Cecilia wore it to a meeting at the DVF store. Everyone there was like, “Oh my god! What’s this dress? We don’t carry that dress!” Cecilia: I plan on wearing it to the installation, so I’ll have a DVF wrap dress with a print of me wearing a DVF wrap dress! W: So Meta!