Scary Stories to Tell Your Photographer

In this creepy collaboration with Kenneth Chia, the makeup maestro details his monstrous inspiration and translating the scare on to screen.

Monsters throughout history have always been framed as the ‘other’ – they look completely different from the norm, misunderstood, and therefore scary. At the same time, they’re the subject of endless fascination.

Many personal conversations between Minhua and I revolve around what we feel is a burgeoning, progressive aesthetic in Asian beauty and fashion. A growing movement that has yet to be fully embraced. So it made sense to celebrate the spooky season through that lens. 

Also, we both miss traveling to Japan. So this is our take on the Kappa, a popular type of yōkai (Japanese apparition).

It usually takes some time for me to think about makeup looks on personal projects. But the idea for this came pretty much immediately. I knew we had to do some sort of body painting inspired by Japanese forests, ukiyo-e prints, and the Kappa itself. 

We also had to decide whether the Kappa’s trademark water bubble and the set would be rendered in post-production. But in the spirit of practical FX artists in the past, it felt right to make it happen for real. It also was a good chance to challenge ourselves.

Our resourceful stylist, Isabella, also wanted to reflect the Kappa’s amphibian roots in the clothes. So she paired a pair of Bottega Venetta SS21 Bouclé pants with scuba fins that she hand-painted. 

And finally, special thanks to our model Jesper for lending us his body as a canvas.

Happy Halloween!