From pale blue androids to facial recognition hackers and nature enthusiasts, future trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry predicts the beauty subcultures that will reign in the near futureSelfridges
As part of our Selfridges x Dazed Beauty Space, an online and physical pop-up experience – a space of resistance, imagination, and new identities – we have been looking ahead to the next 100 years of beauty.
An exciting component of our research into the future of cosmetics was working with fashion futuristic and trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry to predict six beauty subcultures from the future. Based on Geraldine’s forecast, we will be dropping Instagram face filters centred on each subculture every week and we’ll be exploring and building on her trends through live make-up, hair, and nail tutorials in the Dazed Beauty Space at Selfridges. Sign up here for a chance to be involved.
For now, read and discover Geraldine’s out of the world predictions for what might happen next for beauty, make-up, hair, surgery, filters, and self-expression.
PALE BABY ANDROID
The transhuman philosophy that we should merge with machines to extend our intelligence and life expectancy has become highly coveted with the rise of an ageing global population. Emboldened by the exponential growth of neurotech, biotech, and the appearance of the first cyborgs in the 2010s, we are redefining the bounds of the human body and chasing the fountain of youth. Meanwhile, the first baby androids are in development, in an effort to make us “more than human”. In 2017 we were already able to grow a premature lamb in a synthetic womb and brain-computer interfaces known as the brainternet. It was only a matter of time until we developed baby android mass-manufacturing.
To ease acceptance into today’s society, we introduce androids as babies and match them with human families who raise them with dreams and dysfunctions. The subculture is part robot, with exposed metal or clear silicone body parts. Their eyes and hands offload and upload data for upgrades, information exchange as well as sense checking. As a form of reassurance, we take qualities, physical traits from loved ones, even those who have passed away, and upload them into our android children as a way to cheat death and dabble with resurrection.
This subculture is in a birthplace stage, mutating. A creature is being spawned. The Pale Baby Androids represent a new life form in its cellular stages. Their skin textures vary from wet and translucent to powdery and matte, with colour gradations mimicking mushrooms or lichen. Therefore the colours are blanched, textures are filmy, cellophane-like, slimy even, inspired by pearlescent spores, bacteria, bubbles, eggs, petri dishes, and fungi as the very primary life form. The baby android manufactures saliva which mutates and has psychotropic or fertilizing qualities and if taken in excess can be toxic. Underpinning this is the idea of duplication, twins, the multiplying of cells, as well as creatures feeding off of each other. Inspired by Vore fetish, this subculture sees life, death, and rebirth as part of the same thing.
We have been on a continual quest to hack the human condition and technology made us grapple hard with being human in the 2020s, when institutions started trying to put a moratorium on facial recognition technology and we realised how hard it would be to protect privacy.
But it was too late, our digital footprint had already become the sexiest thing on earth. We were so seduced with creating highly precise services powered by our intimate data, that we failed to control hyper surveillance. We had spawned a trail of data we could never ever escape, even in the afterlife. Social ranking as a form of access to government services was already underway in the late 2010s and spread like wildfire around the globe in the years to come, as governments acquired unprecedented power to track and rate citizens.
A few decades later and our value as citizens is now intricately linked with our data. As omniviolence terrorism increases, the Privacy Hack subculture becomes the symbol of the resistance, fighting for humanity’s freedom and Artificial Intelligence exclusively used for the greater good of the people and the planet. They rose up during 2019’s social uprisings around the world, and from this was born a movement of facial recognition hackers. They joined forces with hackers who garbled social media captions as a form of art and a bid to confuse algorithms, successfully derailing internet surveillance by turning words into a mess of illegible code.
The Privacy Hack subculture has subverted all of the traditionally known data-tracking tools to create a beauty standard where our faces are adorned with data designed and garbled to confuse others, and only understood by a few. Their masks act as algorithmic signal scramblers and make members unrecognisable, equipped with a shape-shifting face filter, distorted layers of glitches and images. Freedom is being reclaimed by “virtually hacking” faces with code, illegible messages, fragments of faces. They are rebels hunted down by governments, living off the grid. Their ranks are joined by the LGBTQ+ community that have fought so hard for claiming their freedom to choose, the right to fluidity and a free identity.
Inspired by a feudal structure of society chronicled in the Aristocratic Decade (2038-2048) Dazed Beauty predicted in 2018, the Baroque Dystopians seek to escape from the anxieties of climate change and offset them with the exuberance of radical hope. They tap into the 1700s French Aristocracy and the Baroque era for hairstyle inspiration. In times of socio-political instability when visionary thinking is much needed, beauty trends lean on the eccentric types, reflecting a need to escape and indulge. Think the twenties post-War era with its glitter, luxury, and decadence. By 2038, we will experience tense separatism between the haves and the have nots, and it will manifest in nostalgic over the top beauty trends.
The Baroque Dystopians thrive in raves and underground social spaces. They are street wanderers with unsurpassed exuberance, adorned with eccentric hair braiding, exaggerated bouffant volumes decorated with pearls and golden roping, brightly hued and boldly curled hair, dental braces and face jewellery worn as their crown.
They use found jewels and stones, metal wires, industrial metal scraps reworked and moulded into vine shapes and alluring face gear. They represent the dichotomies between classes and blend the superior airs of royalty with the edge of life on the streets. This subculture also harnesses cross-cultural style references, inspired by the opulence of Middle Eastern clothing and jewellery. They navigate cultures and races, with a DNA so mixed it is unclassified, only known as the world’s new diaspora subculture, untethered to anything but their community, their street savviness and exuberant self-expression.
We have reached technological singularity and the year is 2045. In the era of the integrated circuit according, our technology year 2020 was doubling every 14 months. Today it has reached endless processing power. Us humans can’t keep up. Nonetheless, we see opportunities in renewing our identities by applying the same principles of recycling and the circular economy to the principles of owning the legal rights your face, a need that emerged in the 2010s due to the rise of deep fakes.
The concept of face recycling gains momentum as people agree to swap faces. They can opt to do this in the digital realm or in real life through transplants and plastic surgery. In the digital realm, a popular filter is inspired by surrealist collages, juxtapositions of different faces. Another trend for face swapping and recycling uses simple solid colour overlays. These hues connect to personal data and can change shades with changing moods, biometrics, or even weather patterns. And for extra cash, our augmented skin includes advertising for the next e-sports world championship.
For those who cannot afford a new face IRL or a fancy augmented filter, the growing practice of using recycled materials to mask your face or adorn it with found objects creates a surprising space for what is considered new precious jewellery. Adornments are created from yesterday’s relics: microchips, concert ticket stubs, an old barcode, even an old kitchen utensil, wonderful memories now used to proclaim and celebrate our post-consumer history.
Humans have evolved into elongated fairy-like creatures both ethereal and lethal. 90 years earlier a small group of biotech companies and scientists had developed age-reversing technologies. And the end of the second millennium allowed us to reconnect with our primordial animal instincts of hunting and feeding on only what we need, as we ran short of natural resources and needed to create new ways of getting our nutrients.
At the beginning of the 2100s, scientists and bioengineers have now developed skin cells able to harvest essential vitamins and if lucky, flowers. This has enabled us to become closer to nature and has given society an opportunity to reflect and long for what we once had and took for granted. Flowers lost their perfume but fortunately, scientists were able to engineer tattoos that release a floral scent. As the lines blur between the natural, virtual and the human, we use bio-sensitive smart tattoo inks that change colours and come to life through augmented reality, visually mimicking orchid petals and dragonfly wings.
Humans have become avatars of flowers and produce nutrients to mimic pollination. From this, we have created unlikely bonds with insects that appreciate our skin’s nourishment, especially ladybugs and iridescent worms. Our bodies have been engineered to be a part of the earth’s geology, as we are now able to produce face crystals mimicking nature’s wildest patterns. The adornments are packed with nutrients, allowing us to recharge just for a night or even minutes as part of our wellness routine. With the power to design our ideal future self, we are presented with a menu: from a floral creature to a fairy, feathered eyelashes to crystallised skin, the choice is ours.
The planet has drastically changed due to global warming. We have grown used to living in the dark due to heat reaching dangerous heights during the daytime. Pollution levels and microparticles in the air have darkened the light. Besides, the world is now overpopulated, and we cannot all work at the same time, therefore society works in split day or night time shifts, with global time zones now dictated by heat and density of population.
To navigate this world, we have developed ways to see in the dark and become accustomed to heat mapping cameras and infrared vision. We glow in the dark through our tattoos, contact lenses and make-up. But much like a cheetah or a lioness, we understand the importance of camouflage, being stealth. Therefore our tattoos can move and switch to nothing, powered by swarms of nanobots running through our veins. This subulture wears soft robotic body parts as masks or nose extensions, a clever development after the invention of soft computer parts such as the octobot in the 2010s.
Neon green prevails, with other hues inspired by tropical fish and coral accustomed to limited light in the depths of the ocean. Our perceptions evolve, natural evolution makes us reconnect with our animal instincts in a move to mimic the intelligence of wild animals with feather or fish inspired brows, pointed earpieces and increased senses such as hearing or smell. Piercings increase our spatial awareness and protrude, mimicking the spikes of hedgehogs for protection, in the form of metal insertions that help us navigate the dark and sense our surroundings. We can also opt for the less aggressive and equally alluring markings of jungle beetles. These adornments double as a symbol of status and tribal ranking, varying from solid silver to bright tropical hues.