We get a play-by-play from the man behind UNIQUE’s cover beauty
Wonder’s quarter-year history of covers will tell you this much: I can’t keep color off pretty faces. There’s just something about smearing glitter-packed pigment on gorgeous Filipina features that feels liberating and powerful. That makes rosy, sun-kissed skin look even better when finished off with a generous smudging of rouge. That makes layering blush and blending it into the space normally occupied by eyeshadow the only logical course of action when the subject’s eyelid real estate allows.
Things only got better in April, when UNIQUE––beautiful boy, talented musician and photogenic love child of monochrome and grainy filters––came into the picture.
Since the dawn of his career as a soloist, UNIQUE has kept to his blacks and his whites. His comfort zone looks like black turtleneck shirts and bare eyes behind his trademark cat-eye glasses––and while all that definitely looks good, I can’t lie: I couldn’t wait to ease him out of his usual look. With a canvas like that, the possibility’s aplenty.
It was like this––with a lot of excited planning and narrowing down color options––that our April cover with UNIQUE came to be.
A move like this didn’t come without its fair share of backlash, though. We saw it coming: put a boy with a little color on his face on a magazine cover and you’re bound to read the worst kinds of comments. Trust us when we say we’ve seen them all. If anything, it’s made this cover and this concept ring synonymous to fulfilment.
UNIQUE’s cover ended up being something of a beautifully packaged, strongly raised middle finger to the close-minded––those who seem to think putting a little makeup on a man is a capital sin. This cover is definitive proof that boys can do beauty and pull it off just as well as women can. Who’s to say what we can and can’t do based on gender anyway?
To help bring the vision of bleached blue brows and ethereal green-lined eyes to life, the Wonder Team recruited a good friend, wildly talented hair and makeup artist Zidjian Floro. Up ahead, Zid shares the secrets to achieving the show-stopping aqua brows and green-smeared eyes from the #WonderxUNIQUE over.
Wonder: What were your first thoughts upon seeing the mood board for UNIQUE’s cover look?
Zidjian: When I saw the mood board for UNIQUE’s beauty looks, I was really excited because the colors would pop on his skin tone. It was a very new look for him.
W: How about those striking green under-eye smears?
Zidjian: When it comes to editorial makeup, I always like to layer products. I first applied a green-based cream, then set it with an apple green eyeshadow so the cream doesn’t move underneath. It’s always better to take your time with makeup if you can. Layering powders over creams adds more dimension and longevity. Eyebags, by the way, add more of a realistic look so I try not to cover them so much.
W: There’s been quite a stir regarding UNIQUE’s look in our cover shoot. What do you think of the current perspective of men’s beauty standards?
Zidjian: I’d like to believe that most people are now leaning towards the acceptance of diversity. Although there is still a very long way to go, there is progress. I really can’t wait for the time to come when everyone can buy and use makeup––but not because they think that they have to look a certain way, but with the pure intention of wanting to look however they want to without minding whatever “beauty standards” there are.
Moving forward, I think what I can contribute most is continuing to create, doing my art and collaborating with artists who share the same vision as me. I also want to create a bridge between people and create a community that just helps and supports each other. Lastly, I would love to enable and give a helping hand especially to young queer people who want to create. I already started last year when I met a high school student from Zamboanga online. I sent him some makeup, like decent foundation colors that he can use mix on his clients. We help the people we can and work more towards helping others in the future.
W: Having worked with UNIQUE a couple of times, you must have a pretty good idea of what beauty looks work best for him. What look do you hope for him to try out IRL?
Zidjian: I really would love for UNIQUE to bleach his brows, or maybe just remove them! [Then, he could] just pair this look with baby bangs and messy hair. Also, I would like to give him a semi-drag gender bender David Bowie makeup look. I think he’d also look cute with Palomo Spain clothes.
Keep up with Zid’s scene-stealing hair and beauty work over on the ‘gram!
Still haven’t read Wonder’s April cover story with UNIQUE? Get on it ASAP; here’s a link. You’re welcome.
Cover Photography Colin Dancel
Behind-the-scenes Photography Tamia Reodica
Art Direction Alexandra Lara
Styling Nicole Blanco Ramos
Beauty Direction Cessi Treñas
Hair and Makeup Zidjian Floro using Laura Mercier
Shot on location at The Chroma Studio
Special thanks to OC Records