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We will all Laugh at Gilded Butterflies Reece + Dean Jo
We Will all Laugh at Gilded ButterfliesPhotography Reece + Dean

Jonathon Kidd is the CSM designer inspired by Megan Fox’s butterfly tattoo

A new editorial lensed by rising photographers Reece + Dean sees Kidd explores his adolescence, mythical folklore, and his obsession with the Hollywood icon’s ink

Fashion is full of designers that draw inspiration from wildly obscure cultural reference points – over the course of the last few weeks alone we’ve seen Demna Gvasalia commandeer a Paris McDonald’s and subvert the chain’s globally recognised uniform, Donatella Versace dip into the 90s rave scene to pay tribute to her friend, The Prodigy’s Keith Flint, and Craig Green send out a collection inspired by the trashy mystery videos he’d watched on late night YouTube binges.

One thing we’ve never heard during a post-show backstage interview or read in a painstakingly penned set of collection notes, though, is that Megan Fox’s butterfly tattoo has proved to be a big influence on someone’s work. That is, until rising photographers Reece + Dean dropped us a line about their latest editorial, which sees them join forces with fellow CSM grad, emerging designer Jonathon Kidd, and features a model with a replica of the ink in question – as recreated by make-up artist Grace Ellington.

“I’ve just always loved Megan – but then, hasn’t everyone?” explains Kidd, laughing. “The tattoo is actually a quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear saying ‘We will all laugh at gilded butterflies’ and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since I can remember. With the collection having this fantasy feeling, and being so about wings, I knew I had to get it in there somewhere.”  

Shot in Reece + Dean’s signature cinematic style – and with the same magic and sense of unease that underpinned their recent series Based on a True Story – the shoot, which the three named Headlights, is presented in chapter-like form in much the same way as a fairytale would be. The idea makes sense, given the Brothers Grimm-esque nature of the editorial’s atmosphere and narrative.

“The concept grew over a long period of time, coming from different experiences and feelings from my adolescence when I was growing up in Fazakerley, Liverpool,” says Kidd. “The main inspiration for the collection itself was actually a drive two years ago, when this wave of different emotions came over me – I started thinking about when all my friends got their first cars and we were going on midnight drives, and what would happen if the car stopped abruptly and all the passengers just got out and ran into the woods. I started imagining what you’d see if you were driving past, and then about these ethereal hybrid teenage creatures – which is where the idea of them being like deer in the headlights came from.”

Shot in a forest-like setting, in Headlights a pack of young, suburban teens are captured surrounding a car that has swerved off the quiet country road at the sight of them, staring transfixed at the beams of light coming from its bumper. Later in the series they are beckoned by their mother deer, portrayed by model Gigi Hari, to perform a ritualistic dance in front of a bonfire.

The clothing itself reflects the teenagers’ transformation into animals, with Kidd’s collection made up of glittering tunics, faux fur hooded scarves, and voluminous chaps which give those wearing them a faun-like appearance. “For me it’s the wing-like trousers that are the most important, though. Wings are mythical, mysterious, and full of movement, which are three things I wanted the collection to encompass. And the two faux fur hats I love, because they have that kind of early-2000s scene kid vibe. I really wanted to subvert whta would usually be considered normal, nondescript clothing to really accentuate the idea of this normal teen becoming a woodland creature.”   

As our conversation draws to a close, Kidd finishes by deciding on what mythical creature he himself would become. “A peryton, which is a stag with wings – but instead of a stag I’d be a faun with wings, a bit more delicate,” he confirms. “That, or I’d be a tiny fairy or sprite. I’ve been obsessed with Ferngully since I was a kid. I’m short, and I wear skirts all the time, so I think it would be quite fitting!”