Christine and the Queens Was Born to Rule
Pride

Christine and the Queens Was Born to Rule

Story by Jael Goldfine / Photography by Bryan Huynh

Christine and the Queens is French — famously. But Héloïse Letissier speaks her own language. If you've followed any of the last decade of the 32-year-old musician's career, you'll know what a deeply expressive, singular language it is.

The pop star's communication is often non-verbal, which is part of why she's found such remarkable success among non-French listeners. Though many of us only hear a string of onomatopoeias when Letissier sings in her first language — outbursts, moans, hisses, cries, yelps, growls, purrs and whispers — nothing is lost in translation. Letissier spits out some syllables like poison, and chews on others like meat. She exudes sex in the way she licks up some phrases, and spells out loneliness in the way she exhales others. When she sings in English, on songs like "People, I've Been Sad," the focus track of her recent surprise EP La Vita Nuova, there's also no mistaking her emotion.

A crucial part of her language is the style of physical movement — erotic, campy, swaggering — she's become known for in her increasingly ambitious visuals and performances. La Vita Nuova arrived alongside a short film choreographed by Ryan Heffington and staged at Paris' Palais Garnier opera house. The film is somewhere between "Thriller," Suspiria, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a Bond movie. Letissier dances an opening number alone, racing across the opera house roof at sunset, punching the sky and caressing herself. A satyr, unclear if he's Letissier's lover or tormentor, follows her as she descends the floors of the theatre. With each floor, the scene changes: a dance studio orgy, a piano solo on the main stage; a flight from the grand hall in a virginal white gown like an escape from a wedding; and a final ensemble dance during which Letissier seduces a velvet-clad Caroline Polachek singing in Italian.

"I make music because I'm deeply embarrassed with having strong feelings," says Letissier. "And the only way I can negotiate it is through theatre."

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Theatre has always been a refuge for queer people. Over the last decade, Letissier's world has become much the same, with her impeccable suits, huge feelings, charisma like a genderless French James Dean (she prefers Nick Cave or Mick Jagger) and unlimited imagination. Her world is one where queerness is both essential and sensationalized, normalized and deified, the center and the backdrop of every love story, heartbreak and drama.

Few are fluent in Letissier's language like her friend and collaborator Mike Hadreas AKA Perfume Genius, a fellow sculptor of tension and emotion. When the pair discuss art, they speak their own language of meandering abstraction. It can be hard to parse, but each knows exactly what the other means.

Back in May (before the revolution), PAPER invited Mike and Héloïse to spend a Los Angeles morning and a Paris evening together on Zoom for a conversation about dance, therapy and TikTok.

Christine: Coucouuuuuuu!

Mike: Hiiii!

Christine: Hi!

Mike: How are you?

Christine: I'm good. Mike, thank you for the album.

Mike: You're welcome. I made it for you.

Christine: [Flips hair] Well yes, it did kind of feel like that. How are you doing?

Mike: My day's just starting. But I think it's going to be a good one. Why not?

Christine: How is it going with the album release in such a weird context? Is it still satisfying? I only see people raving about it, I mean my friends are raving about it. We are raving about you.

Mike: It makes me feel closer to the outside world than I have for a long time. I'm lucky I don't have to leave my house to share music with everybody. I can just give it to them [puts palms out to camera].

Christine: Right, just give it to them [mimics "giving" motion].

Mike: I also feel strange. Like, I'm in bed. Right now. I've made my bed my office.

Christine: I considered buying a really expensive dressing gown [mimes flouncing robe around]. Like, a really old dandy, flowery. If we are meant to stay a lot of time at home, I want extravagant loungewear. Make it flashy.

Mike: Yes! Loungewear, we need that fabric. How are you feeling, creatively?

Christine: Creatively, I actually don't feel drained at all! Which could have been to be expected, because, like you, I released something and then lockdown happened. I chose to self-isolate at first, so I was constantly on my own. My survival technique for being alone is writing, and so far so good. I'm working on the third album. It's quite satisfying to me.

Mike: All your home live performances feel inspired, to me. They don't feel like you're doing them just to have done them. How do you do that? I'm having so much trouble. Just being asked to point the camera at myself, in my house, and bring the same inspiration and energy. I'm having a hard time adapting.

Christine: To be honest, [performing from home] reminds me a lot of what I was doing when I started music almost ten years ago: getting totally delirious alone in my flat, without any contact whatsoever. I would just craft weird videos on my MacBook and post them. Now, I'm back to that point now [laughs] but way older. It felt like going back to a safe place for me. Back then, I was desperate too. [Back then] I was like, "If this is the only way I can get in touch with an audience then I'll do it." I've been making [the performances] more and more sparse, because the energy's so intense. You have to give way more because you receive nothing back. That's not to insult people who comment, but it's just not the same thing as having that emotion floating around you [mimes sprinkling "emotions" around her].

Mike: Yeah.

Christine: I did lots of covers because I was wary of doing the same thing too much, like performing "People, I've Been Sad" like twelve times in a row. I've been trying to find tricks to get excited by performing. Sometimes I'll just start playing piano — and I'm shit at that — just for the sake of bringing danger [laughs]. You have to trick yourself, like a kid. But I don't see myself doing this for five more months. Maybe I'll throw secret parties. [Feigns gasp and puts hands to her mouth] The French government is going to sue me.

[Laughter]

Christine: They'll be like "Christine is a rebel!"

Mike: It's weird how we're just waiting for an official word… just because they opened the parks doesn't mean it is safe to go to the park.

Christine: I have a feeling people want orgies.

Jumpsuit: Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Boots: Christian Louboutin, Jabot: Vintage

Mike: I think that people will crave it desperately, and want orgies and contact. But they'll also have this kind of PTSD and fear of it so it's gonna kind of me this weird tension [mimics repulsion of magnets].

Christine: Yeah!

Mike: Which, I'm kind of into that.

Christine: [Laughs and points at Mike] I know! You're very good at creating that. I said thank you for the album right away because... Mike, I'm never disappointed with anything you do, but, it's beautiful to see you grw. You're one of the few artists who, I'm always waiting for their next chapter and I know it's always going to unfold something delicate and fundamental. For example, on your new record, the song "Leave" [makes "shocked" face]. I think I listened to it slightly on substances twenty times in a row. It felt like you just encapsulated eroticism in one song. I was like, "This is what eroticism is about." I just wanted to say that so it's printed!

Mike: I'm happy to help [laughs].

Christine: The tension... I think everyone is kind of having that. That tension. Erotic or not. It's vibrating when I go to the streets and the park [vibrates whole body].

Mike: I love tension. But I want the place where you can have it to be warm and safe. I don't know if that will be there for a while, for people. I think it'll just fundamentally feel wrong.

Christine: I've been remembering a lot how it was to be a teenager. I never tend to forget that anyway [laughs]. I'm stuck on being a teenager, but you find safety in it. For example, I've been listening back to the music that I loved when I was 15.

Mike: I've been doing the same thing.

Christine: Yeah?

Mike: I feel very teenage. But also, that's in tandem with a heavy void and a heavy depression.

[Laughter]

Mike: I can feel that [depression and the void] coming close to me, too.

Christine: I didn't get a chance to see your dance piece, but I am fascinated by that. It's proper live dance piece ["The Sun Still Burns Here," a performance Mike did in collaboration with choreographer Kate Wallich and The YC dance company]. What made you do that? How was it for you creatively? Did it change something for you? Because your record seems way more like a story of different bodies, of lots of different movements than in the past.

Mike: I committed to it just because I was physically feeling better and capable of it. I knew that it would rattle me, in a way that I don't really rattle myself. You know what I mean?

Christine: Yeah.

Mike: There's places with music and in my thoughts that I know how to get myself to an uncomfortable place, and that's usually where my work gets better. But that space is sometimes locked up for me. And, I knew [the dance performance] would unlock it. It was pretty overwhelming. It wasn't just an art-making thing for me. It became a very 360 experience, like with my relationship to my body, connection to other people, to being present. It kind of helped me bridge creativity. Creativity feels like this pretty dreamscape to me, someplace I go by myself. That dreamscape is a fantasy that's really important to me. My real life and my actual body feel very disconnected from that place. The dance sort of brought it all together and it blew me up. Does it feel like that to you? Do you feel that separation?

Christine: I think it's what you are saying about dance making you very present. There's a way of being sucked back into your muscles. For me dance was always a way to meditate, if meditation means being present. You disconnect the stream of thoughts that always made me disconnected with my own body. The dancing, for me, had a lot to do with acceptance also. Because you dance with what you are, you can't really escape your physicality. But you make sense out of it and you cultivate a quality of grace and anger or a strength, that makes you comfortable with who you are at that time, in the gesture. I always used it for that. But it was also a way — dancing kind of embarrasses people. Especially in France, because French people are really embarrassed by everything.

[Laughter]

Christine: No, but really, the physicality of the performer is different in France. People really expect to see someone sitting with a guitar. I kind of arrived with contemporary moves, being really unashamed of it. I think I wanted to fight shame in a very deliberate way. By almost being sometimes not conventionally appealing. love physicality in the performer. You've always had kind of had a physicality yourself, to me.

Mike: Just like you're saying, in the beginning it felt rebellious. Like, throwing myself onto the ground and not wearing any clothes, as a protest against myself, wanting to cover up. Dancing felt like a "fuck you" to me and my own shame.

[Laughter]

Jumpsuit: Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, Boots: Christian Louboutin, Jabot: Vintage

Christine: Yeah!

Mike: [Dance] helped me be more kind and gentle to my body, not as an idea but the actual thing. It made me start thinking about where I am, and who I'm with. It simplifies something, but also maintains something ancient and deep at the same time. That's what I had a hard time figuring out before. I thought in order to find all the ancient, supernatural, magical stuff, I had to go in a dark room by myself and just think and play and sing. I didn't realize I could do that in my own body, with these people, in this room, with like an officer chair or in the dirt, whatever — and still get that blooming magic that I thought I could only access by myself.

Christine: Dancing with other people is, at first, terrifying. For me, at first it was terrifying because it was a lot about surrendering and trusting. If you go over that first fear, it really opens up drastically new perspectives, and you're like "Oh! I can actually explore here." Do you think it's going to change how you — when gigs start again — how you perform?

Mike: Well, I like writhing around. I like just screaming. Just because technically I have more knowledge now, I don't think I'll change [my performance style]. But I do want, like, a pile of dirt or garbage or something to roll around in on stage.

[Laughter]

Mike: When you're writing music, do you always think about the performance? Do you think about movement?

Christine: Yeah, I think so. Music is the core of what I do, because I discovered it later in life, and it's the language of the heart, in a way. But I also need to tell myself a story. I make music because I'm deeply embarrassed with having strong feelings and the only way I can negotiate it is through theatre. Because theatre is extravagant, so it makes me feel more comfortable with always feeling too much, I don't know how to say it.

Mike: No, I understand.

Christine: For La Vita Nuova, I was kind of feeling cracked open and I was like, "I'm going to tell the story." Once I found the story, the songs were flowing way more. Because it feels like I'm scoring a movie in my head. Every record is kind of like a failed movie [laughs].

Mike: How do you start building the whole 360 of the world? I'm selfishly asking because I have a lot of ideas all the time, but then I'm like, "I have all these ideas, what do I do now?" [holds out hands].

Christine: I can imagine you, like, holding all these ideas in your hands, [imitating Mike] "I don't know what to do with them!" For me, it's just when it all comes together. With Chris, the second record, it started with some sound that sounded like some G-Funk thing. It immediately sparked the feeling of having like muscles and being sweaty and lustful. And then, "boom boom boom," the character arrived. And then the Dam-Funk energy and then "da da da da" and then they lost me [throws hands up]. I was too far away. My record label was like, "She's gone again." This time around, it's different. I had an image come to my mind, a really strong one and I was like "Oooh," I want to score something for that iteration of Christine. Then you can arrange everything around that plot.

Mike: World-building.

Christine: When you write a song, does it feel cathartic? Like do you feel that you heal yourself writing a song? Because your lyrics are always so precise and at the same time, they invite in the listener.

Mike: It feels very cathartic right then [laughs]. That feeling of searching and then finding something. When I get into that place, I'm not comfortable doing anything else. I feel like I'm just pretending to be someone that walks around and answers the phone. I'm like "hello!" [awkwardly]. But the further I get from that room, usually, the further I get from the feeling. Now, I'm more being able to bring it out with me or let others in on that catharsis. That place felt very lonely, I didn't let anyone into it for a long time. I thought bringing people in would mess with it, and since it's the only time I feel that way, I didn't want anyone in there. But your collaborations... I just watched the whole film, from the editing to the styling, just the filmic energy around it, the performance, like everything, felt so thoughtful. How do you make sure you give the tender attention to each of those elements?

Christine: I was kind of in this feverish urgency of doing it. La Vita Nuova was talking so much about extreme loss and heartbreak, that I felt like properly ready to unfold everything [hands to heart and exploding away from body]. I was lucky enough to work with Colin Solal Cardo, the director, who knows me well. The film is a result of people knowing each other well. He knew what I was going through so I didn't have to explain. We both adore the same kind of theatrics, that tell deep secrets. It was like two nerds talking for hours. And Ryan Heffington, the choreographer, arrived at the right moment in my life to collaborate on that cathartic deep thing. And he did the most extreme like drama [jazz hands]] choreo. Everything worked because of the energy around it. I'm a bit like you, I have a hard time to be comfortable. It feels so painful, at first, when I have to explain what I want and how I feel. Sometimes I shy away from collaborations because of that. But this time I felt in a really safe space with people I trusted. So we could go into full on delirium [laughs]. It was the most joyful shoot of my whole career. We had two days and a half for the whole thing which was insane. Oui, insane. The end scene with Caroline [Polachek], I think Caroline had just one take of her performance because the guys from the opera had their finger on the switch, they were really strict, they were like "we are shutting it down."[Laughs] And then Caroline nailed it.

Mike: Wow. She only needed one take. I respect that.

Christine: Oh me too. She can do no wrong for some reason. She just arrives and it's working. That's Caroline.

Mike: I would like to ask her some questions about process too [laughs]. Every little thing she puts out feels so considered. I always feel like I'm just flailing around.

Christine: Sometimes it's considered, but sometimes not. Like, "People I've Been Sad" wasn't expected. I started to sing, and I remember my boyfriend was about to go home and I was deeply upset. I was like, I think I'm depressed! The song told me! In a ruthless way. For me, your song writing is so precise and really quite emotional. It makes sense you struggle with collaborating. It's hard to bring in other people without making gimmicky music — not saying gimmicky music is wrong, I just wouldn't know how to do that. Like the activity of "finding cool hooks."

Mike: But you are finding those cool hooks.

Christine: It's a nightmare [holding her hands to her temple]

Mike: Do you ever watch movies and when classical music comes on, write a hook over it? A and then I'll be like [sings in "pop star voice"].

Christine: Yes! Also, Vivaldi the composer — hooks on hooks on hooks. Like, on record, the thrill of the ancient times.

Mike: People were just losing their fucking minds in the chamber [laughs].

Christine: [Laughs] I wonder if Vivaldi came somewhere, do you think, and people were like [whispering], "It's Vivaldi!" Like groupies, like, "'I really love 'The Four Seasons'! Especially spring!" And he'd be like, "Stop bothering me."

Mike: Like stan armies? I hope so.

Christine: I was wondering... has anyone ever asked you to be in a movie?

Mike: A movie? Well now that I'm in LA, I feel like that's kind of the thing. Someone asked me to be the voice of a cartoon.

Christine: Really?!

All clothing: Palomo Spain, Sash: Vintage

Mike: I'm not going to go too deep into it, but years ago I was asked to be in a movie that was hyper pornographic, but with a pretty famous actor. It didn't end up happening. But I was terrified for weeks. I was like at my mom's house talking about it with the director, being like, "Oh that's cool, yeah, I can totally do that." Then being like, "I can't do that." It was also shot on an iPhone, which was like... I don't know if I can get that gritty. Thank God it didn't happen.

Christine: But you said yes?

Mike: I did say yes.

Christine: Interesting, because I really see you in movies. You're character material.

Mike: I want to make like a meditative, slow, longform dance film. Which I have been informed by other people no one would want to watch.

Christine: I'd watch. I think you could reinvent the format. This is the ideal moment where people are receptive to something drastically different. Like your album and how deeply satisfying it was listening to the Fiona Apple album during lockdown. People are receptive to chaotic energy and new ideas.

Mike: I like that too. But I feel like so many of my ideas before this involved other people and like, dirt fields, so how do I adapt?

Christine: Do you keep up with all the dancers?

Mike: We keep in touch, yeah. I'm really close with Kate, the choreographer. Me and her take it to another level. We're kind of ready to have a big ranch. That's kind of my dream right now, is just to have a big queer open ranch with people just like, making things, and rolling around and helping each other. It's very utopian in my head. But there's no rules. It's a dream. But I mean, we have weird careers. We have weird jobs. If anyone can make that happen it's probably us.

Christine: I guess so.

Mike: But at the same time it's very escape-y, in a way that feels problematic. A lot of people do not have the luxury of leaving and going to some ranch and making their own world up.

Christine: I spent a whole Sunday with friends recently. Because well, actually, I broke up again — [laughs] how French of me. And I just wanted to heal somehow. I just spent a whole Sunday with like 12 people, adorable. And I was like, "This could go on forever. We could disconnect forever." There is the temptation of just loving everybody in that garden and never letting the world enter again. But, yeah, in a way it's escapist because, you kind of renounce all the other fights that animated me. I could feel myself getting drawn to a forcefield of just doing this utopia of 12 people and just shutting down the phones. Like, "I'm done with my career and gardening flowers."

Mike: Yeah, I kind of have runaway energy. I just want to go somewhere and not talk for seven years [laughs].

Christine: [Laughs] Ooooooh. In Tibet! No, I'm joking. With Brad Pitt.

Mike: I think the dance performance made me want to physically feel different. I don't know. It made me want to find some transcendence in how I live and who I'm with and fuck that up in someway. Instead of just trying to fuck it up in thinking.

Christine: It's also daunting. I don't know it does this for you, but dancing makes me love my body and learn how to take care of it way more. The way you learn to take care of your instrument.

Mike: Yeah, I want more access with my body. I want to be healthier so I can reach farther [mimes leaping]. So I can jump and keep up with everyone else. [Dancing] became kind of holy feeling. And that was revolutionary to me. I mean it's still a balance. I'm still drinking like ten Diet Cokes a day, but also like "Yeah, running!"

Christine: It's fun because I remember when we shot the video for "Jonathan" years ago, you were already talking to me about physicality. You told me like,"I want to get really ripped, I want to be muscled." And you became really athletic even more, with the dancing. In a way, you announced to yourself what you wanted to do and then did it.

Mike: I mean I never do anything unless I want to.

Christine: [Laughs] That's a good motto.

Mike: Once I actually realized the exercising actually made me feel good, then I did it. Before it felt like... if it's just for vanity or guilt or shame, I don't do anything. Those things aren't a catalyst for me.

Christine: Preach! Do you feel like you always know what you want? Even artistically? Or do you feel lost sometimes? [Laughs] This is the worst question I've ever asked.

Mike: I used to feel pretty solid. I used to know what I want and what I didn't want. And right now, I don't. I feel very unhumble. I used to have some kind of distance, which is weird. But now I feel too close to my feelings, too close to everything. I feel rootless, with no center. When I felt more centered, that's when I knew what I wanted because I knew who I was. And now I don't really know [shrugs].

Christine: Yeah, I relate to that.

Mike: I still, if I want something, I still do it. I'm not certain always if that was really what I wanted now. Maybe it was just a feeling.

Christine: For me, a part of growing older, is being less solid about my desires. I remember being a teenager and crying for a reason and wanting someone, and then it's done. Now I feel really confused most of the time. [Makes face] Like, "Did I actually want that?" I also just started the process of doing analysis, talking to a shrink basically. Which is new for me. It's very disorienting, because you deconstruct a lot of things, even things you thought that you wanted. So you feel attacked every time, you're like, "So you're telling me I'm reproducing a neurotic pattern?"

Mike: It's frustrating. You're essentially going there because you want the shrink to tidy things up for you, to give you little solutions. But really, they just shake you up [shakes hands] and you just have to sit with this mess. But honestly, that's the transformative thing. That's the process of getting somewhere, where you can figure it out. I just don't — you'd think I would like therapy because I write about feelings all the time, but I don't like that. I felt kind of stuck there for a while. And I know eventually I'm going to feel more solid than I did before, but it's going to be hard.

Christine: Yeah, I'm in that phase where I'm kind of mad at my shrink. I'm like, "You you made it more complicated now!" [Laughs] And she's like, "See you next week." And I'm like "Noo, don't leave me for the whole weekend." Then I'm rolling in the grass screaming and then I'm writing a song. It's fun. What are you going to do after this?

Mike: I'm going to see this house. And then I have therapy! And then I'm going to try and record a cover tomorrow, so I should probably try and learn it better. I have a problem with covers where I just sing like 40 seconds of it and then I just stop. If I'm going to do a recording I'm going to need to fill out a lot more. I've been singing a lot of covers though. Have you? I'm not singing my own music, like I'm sitting down and finding the chords for like, Fleetwood Mac songs and singing them campfire style just for myself.

Christine: Oui, oui. I like the idea of covering tracks and absorbing them somehow. Some songs that I deeply love I would never dare to sing. But some songs, if I chew on them for a second they become mine. I also like the idea of slightly twisting a song and [makes breaking noise]. Usually the fans are mad about that — fans of the original — they're like "What did you do to the song?!" And I'll be like "Well it was perfect as it was so I had to break the dream."

Mike: I just make everything very slow [rocking with his whole body]. I try to find a way to do it. But I've been just sing them straight-up karaoke style on my piano. Just like, playing them exactly like they are. But I'm not sharing them with anyone, they're just making me feel better.

Christine: Well, now it makes me want to hear them. I mean, share what you want. I think the choice of sharing what you want is good.

Mike: If any of them were good I'd share them, but they're all just bad so far. What are you doing later?

Christine: After this? Tonight I have a session for Pitchfork actually. I'm doing the thing you did.

Mike: Oh yeah? The listening party? That's strange to do that so late at night. Does that feel weird? No it's not actually, because it's like a show.

Christine: Yes, but you know what, it makes me sad. Because I remember the routine of a real show. So it makes me even more nostalgic. Like I ate at six, like at a show, but then I'm like "I don't actually have a stage. I have yet, again, my phone screen." My phone screen starts to feel really aggressive to me, like we're exchanging aggressiveness now.

Mike: Yeah, it feels weird because it represents so much but it's just this one thing. And you're channeling energy from everything onto this little black square.

Christine: Unrelated, but are you on TikTok?

Mike: No. Are you on it? I was recommended — they said "Why don't you try and go on TikTok?" And I was like "Okay." And then I was like [grimaces]

Christine: [Laughs] I have the feeling that you would have a great TikTok. It would be as absurd and deeply enjoyable as your Twitter. You could do like absurd TikToks of like rats or I don't know...

Mike: I was into Vine.

Christine: Yeah! TikTok is basically Vine updated. I don't know why people pretend that's not the case. It's lots of youngsters, like 12 years old. I'm triggered, because it reminds me of when I was bullied earlier on. So I feel like [those bullies] are still around [laughs] and I feel deeply uncomfortable.

Mike: I've seen some insane TikToks. I've seen some really funny absurd ones. But I've also seen some mind numbingly basic ones. Like the whitest, most basic... like it's earth-shattering, it's heartbreaking to me. That people could be that normal. Or not even normal but that like [groans] I don't know. It's really bothersome. But maybe I'll try it!

Mike: I've seen some insane TikToks. I've seen some really funny absurd ones. But I've also seen some mind numbingly basic ones. Like the whitest, most basic... like it's earth-shattering, it's heartbreaking to me. That people could be that normal. Or not even normal but that like [groans] I don't know. It's really bothersome. But maybe I'll try it!

Christine: I mean you know Caroline Polachek, whose mind is great.

Mike: Is she on Tiktok?! I'd like to see her TikToks.

Christine: I told her I was on TikTok and she was like, "You should read poems every night." And I was like, "Thank you for your brain, but I don't think the 12-year-olds will be satisfied with that." Then again, I don't know, I could try.

Mike: I'd tune in!

Christine: We could be like the resistance of TikTok. Like, [reading into a microphone] "I don't have any little choreo for you right now, I'm just going to read you a poem by Yeats. Here we go."

Mike: Let's just sit here. Maybe I'll start my seven years of silence on TikTok.

Christine: See, that's a concept I would buy. I just want to watch you being silent on TikTok for seven years.

For our 2020 Pride cover series, PAPER tapped photographer Bryan Huynh — and his team of digital art pros led by Rodolfo Hernandez and Willem Stapel — to reimagine our subjects, sculpt their bodies and transport them into otherworldly environments.

The experimental production began with a Zoom — connecting with each talent over video and talking them through the process of a face/ head scan iPhone app. Once the rough scans were exported, Huynh went back in to fine-tune facial details, humanizing the rudimentary imagery. Alongside subjects' features, Huynh's team sculpted digital bodies posing talent into positions that would match their unique environments, which were also digitally made by hand.

When it came to the fashion, stylist Matthew Josephs worked closely with our cover stars, as if they were on set, to ensure their individual aesthetics translated in pictures. Josephs sent the final looks to Huynh's team, who then built the clothing into their 3-D spaces.

Three months of dedicated hard work later under COVID-19 restrictions, PAPER is proud to present this year's Pride portfolio.

Photography: Bryan Huynh
Fashion editing: Matthew Josephs
3D art lead: Rodolfo Hernandez
Art direction: Jonathan Conrad
3D clothing design: Jiyoon Myung
3D accessories design: Joohee Jeon and Yousun Hong
3D face art: Joaquin Cossio
Retouching: Hamzah Amin and Steven Orts

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