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Eugene Souleiman x Marcus Schäfer 11
Hair Eugene SouleimanPhotography Marcus Schäfer

Eugene Souleiman’s eerie portraits offer an alternative vision of beauty

The hairstylist teamed up with photographer Marcus Schaefer on a mystical shoot

“I wanted to create something dark, mystic and earthy and not something that felt cosmetic and traditional,” says hairstylist Eugene Souleiman of his beauty shoot with photographer Marcus Schaefer. “I wanted to style hair as it would’ve been done before the comb was invented.”

Looking to create something that offered a different perspective to the commercial vision of beauty that dominates today, Souleiman and Schaefer teamed up for a moody, hair-focused shoot which embraced, rather than rejected, imperfections and rawness. The result is a series of beautiful, eerie portraits that hint at a dark mysticism and magic. Below, Schaefer talks inspiration and what beauty means to him.

What inspired the shoot?
Marcus Schaefer: My inspiration for this shoot was the idea of “failure.” I didn‘t intend to shoot the exact likeness of someone or something, I longed to arrest all beauty and the non-obvious. Something between the lines, that you most likely catch when you are not trying to catch it. I wanted to attempt to get away from photography, to escape the banality in images we are exposed to a lot these days on social media and produce a photograph that actually wouldn‘t even look like a photograph. Something unique, using long exposure and unconventional lighting as well as playing with proportions, dimensions and perspectives to capture an unordinary shot with a timeless momentum. I believe that the unintended failure will make a photograph truly special and somehow not reproducible, even in a digital age.

What did you want to convey through your images?
Marcus Schaefer: I think of photography as the perfect tool to create your very own interpretation of reality - for me personally, a reality that is about beauty, art and aesthetics and not necessarily technical perfection. My intention was to make this story look almost like a hybrid form of a painting. By blurring outlines and modulating tones, I wanted to allow one form to merge into another to convey a magical dark sensibility. Having taken into consideration what has been discussed with Eugene prior to the shoot, I wanted to give the images a dark, absorbing, intimidating and slightly surreal, abnormal appearance.

What do you think the images say about beauty today?  What does beauty mean to you?
Marcus Schaefer: I think there is a very abstract, reversed parallel between our story and beauty today. In my eyes, beauty should be defined way beyond “external” perfection and rather be about an “aesthetically pleasing feeling” than superficial, measurable facts. 

There is a weightless and transparent nature to beauty and attraction that is almost intangible and least of all universal. In it‘s purest form it solely comes down to individual ideas of what “beauty” is. As I said, for me “beauty” is an aesthetically pleasing feeling.

Photographer and Director: Marcus Schaefer
Photographer assistant: JJ Lorenzo 

Hair: Eugene Souleiman @Streeters
1st assistant: Pablo Kuemin
2nd assistant: Claire Moore
3rd assistant: Stefano Mazzoleni
4th assistant: Liam Russell 

Producers: Eliza Murray and Megan Mc Dermott 

Make-up: Lucy Bridge @Streeters
1st assistant: Chloé Palmer
2nd assistant: Gareth Harris
3rd assistant: Anastasia Hess 

Set Design: Lisa Jahovic @LalaLand Artists
1st assistant: Tom Hope 

Videographer and Editor: Christina Clemm

Casting: Simone Schofer

Models: Anna Rubin @Next Models, Maggie Maurer @IMG Models London, Elaine @Nii, May Bell @Elite, Nayara @Established Models