Kurt Johnson Wants You 'Bricked and Confused'

Kurt Johnson Wants You 'Bricked and Confused'

Story by Justin Moran / Styling & creative direction by Kurt Johnson / Photography by Joel Condello / Prosthetic makeup by Julian Dimase
Oct 31, 2023

Spooky season is year-round for Kurt Johnson, the daring stylist behind latex-covered artists like COBRAH. Whether he’s transformed himself into slutty Voldemort or fantastical masked creatures in head-to-toe designer, the Australian fashion provocateur wants to create work that leaves his audience equal parts “bricked” and “confused.” PAPER caught up with Johnson for Halloween to talk about horror movies, phobias and scary “white dudes wearing bucket hats,” below.

What's your biggest fear?

I'd have to say, becoming stagnant. I'm a fucking Capricorn, the thought of being still or not progressing — be it professionally, personally, mentally — is fucking terrifying.

When's the last time you were really scared?

I went to a music festival my best friend played at, where the crowd was a lot of cis-het white dudes wearing bucket hats. House of horrors, mama.

Clothing: Balenciaga

Do you have any phobias?

I fucking hate birds. Untrustworthy beady little black eyes.

Are you interested in horror movies?

I love the Terrifier films; Hereditary, as well. Thirteen Ghosts was one of the first horror movies I vividly remember as a kid, and it's such a classic. The Angry Princess, tell me you aren't so turned on and so terrified at the same time. She really is the essence of my work, I wanna body my characters the way she did with that same energy. Leave my audience bricked tf up and asking themselves why.

(On Kurt) Shorts: 604 Service, Boots: Balenciaga, Underwear: Supreme (On Yussmin) Jeans: Vetements

What generally inspires your personal style?

Fantasy and horror, goth culture, black metal culture, hardstyle and rave culture. If it's high intensity, most people find it insufferable or too much, has an element of fantasy or horror then I'm into it. I'm just another #notlikeothergirls esoteric ass annoying goth stereotype.

Do you dress to intimidate?

Not intentionally, but I guess intentionally. I don't wake up and get dressed everyday thinking I'm gonna leave the house and scare a child or its parent, but with the media I consume and the person I am, I guess I made that choice a long time ago. I committed to the bit, and the bit is scary for most people.

Coat: Jules Bramley, Jeans, t-shirt, hoodie and boots: Balenciaga

How do people in Australia react to your fashion choices? Is it different in other places you visit?

Australia doesn't get me whatsoever. This country is full of tanned beach babes and surfers, and under all the prosthetics I'm a pale tattooed goth. Don’t make me fucking say it... Berlin gets me.

What’s your craziest Halloween memory?

I double dunked two pingers at a rave and was taking a little break outside, lost a contact lens in the back of my eye then projectile vomited from the stress. I was a baby and just started really dressing up and losing that contact was a formative moment for me. Young, dumb and full of fun.

(On Kurt) Coat: Jules Bramley, Jeans, t-shirt, hoodie and boots: Balenciaga (On Yussmin) Jersey: Balenciaga, Jeans: Vetements

What’d you dress as this year?

Nothing. I do this shit all year round, I kinda haven't put effort into Halloween since I started doing cosplay for work. Spooky Dick™️ is a full-time job, baby.

What's the trick to a successful Halloween costume?

Go as something you actually like and are interested in. Body the character, bitch. It's more fun for you and everyone else if you're really feeling the fantasy, honey.

Styling & creative direction: Kurt Johnson
Photography: Joel Condello
Prosthetic makeup: Julian Dimase
Retouching: Lochie Stonehouse
Models: Kurt Johnson and Yussmin Kapetanovic
Location: Miscellania