Alexis Stone (real name: Elliot Joseph Rentz) never saw drag on-screen while growing up. Instead, the viral artist was exposed to two transformations: terrifying monsters in action films and the late Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire. For '90s kids, there were few icons as comical or campy as the old British nanny — and this memory ultimately forged Stone's young love of costume and makeup to eventually blossom into the drag queen we know today.
In celebration of the artist's birthday and the 1993 classic film, Stone, Balenciaga and Millennium FX all came together to create and premiere 27, a new documentary chronicling Stone's change from the beloved movie icon into a real fashion girl stepping on our necks with archival looks provided by Creative Director Demna Gvasalia himself.
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The doc, directed by Stone and Liam Heely, looks deep inside Stone's transformation, following the entire ideation and creation process of ordering facial prosthetics, beating her face to the gods and posing atop a Scottish mountain naked, wearing nothing but a pink robe, oversized Black sunglasses and Balenciaga's armoured knight boots from Fall 2021. Honestly, Mrs. Doubtfire would've definitely approved.
Below, PAPER caught up with Stone to discuss the creative process, the love affair between makeup and fashion, and Mrs. Doubtfire's online beef with Cardi B.
How did this collaborative project come to be? Could you have ever imagined partnering with Balenciaga for the film?
During the first lockdown here in England, Balenciaga had reached out in regards to working together on something else. COVID-19 complicated working schedules as it has for everyone around the world. Mrs. Doubtfire was put together during this frustrating period by myself and my team, and Demna kindly agreed to give me access to whatever was needed to bring my vision to life. It is, of course, one of those "pinch me" moments when you are sent crates-worth of iconic, historic archive pieces with an archive handler.
You've undergone many dramatic transformations before. Emotionally, how was the process of turning into a beloved childhood figure different for you?
I had what can only be described as a mental breakdown seven months ago. It was planned that I would be going to a private rehabilitation center in South Africa for two months to get better. It was either that, which was going to cost me $50,000 or Mrs. Doubtfire, and we know which one I chose. I've spoken about wanting to be Mrs. Doubtfire since I was 16, it was always the childhood dream. Before drag, my only exposure to transformations was Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire and monsters in films. I was mesmerized by the makeup process even at a young age.
My work over the years has always had a shock factor — Is it real? Is it fake? — the kind of projects that make it into group chats, being picked apart and trying to understand. I wasn't trying to convince the world that Robin was alive and a second movie had been made; I simply had to do this 27 years after it originally graced our screens at the age of 27 myself. When I say this film and project saved my life, I mean it. Going from attempting to end my life to having a reason to live has been an incredibly overwhelming period of my life that I'm not ashamed of admitting.
As Mrs. Doubtfire, you're giving luxury fashion girl. Did you have a favorite outfit or accessory from the photoshoot?
Mrs. Doubtfire in Balenciaga is iconic regardless of which look it is, but seeing such a historic character in the armoured boots, naked, on top of a Scottish mountain in an archive pink robe was pretty major. The iconic S&M look was also a moment despite being attacked by midges [small flying insects].
I saw Cardi B retweeted a video of you as Mrs. Doubtfire flipping the camera off. What was your reaction and who do you think would win in a fight, Miss Bacardi or Doubtfire?
Do you know what, I actually had a feeling it would make her giggle once she saw it. Tough shout, would have to be a battle of who has the moistest WAP.
What is your personal relationship with style and fashion as another outlet in comparison to makeup?
Fashion, as well as makeup, is there for us to embody, transform and enhance. Working with a visionary like Demna at Balenciaga is a beloved experience and being trusted to take his work and my aesthetic and combine the two worlds is magical. My focus was the transformation into not only Robin, but then Mrs. Doubtfire with the incredible team at Millennium FX who I've worked with over the years on a handful of projects. Mrs. Doubtfire in the original screen-used costumes was always a possibility, but Balenciaga seemed fitting, modern and a must.
Talk about your physical transformation into Mrs. Doubtfire. The prosthetics and suit used on-set are totally insane.
I could quote the entire film to you with my eyes shut. Every detail has been studied for years, and luckily there are some amazing original references and making of films from the 1993 classic which certainly came in handy. To bring the makeup into 2021, we designed the pieces in silicone rather than foam latex which was originally used in the film. Silicone moves and looks more realistic. Working from 5 AM until 1 AM in foam latex would also face its own obstacles as it's an abnormal length of time to be in prosthetics having 10 odd costume changes. The fat suit was amazing, making sure the distance between my chin and shoulders was reduced was something I knew I needed with this one as it was a head-to-toe transformation into Robin's figure.
"Warping the lines between what's real and what's fake is at the core of what I do. I live my life like a live movie and that's not something I'm willing to compromise on."
If you could do one of your signature looks on Mrs. Doubtfire for a night out, which one would you do?
Oh fuck, that's a good one. Has to be Balenciaga, duh. I think turning up in anything floral to something like the Met Gala would be iconic. The entire reason I had her in Balenciaga was actually because of Kim Kardashian. She rocked up a few years back to the Met in florals [by Givenchy] and the internet compared her to Mrs. Doubtfire, so what a better time than Kim turning up to this year's Met in Balenciaga and Mrs. Doubtfire also dressed in the power house's clothes.
The documentary was so emotional and, as you said, cathartic. Overall, what do you want viewers to take away from such an ambitious project?
Filming and post-production on Mrs. Doubtfire was the longest working period of my life to date. From beginning to end, we spent about three months working on the film making sure it captured what happened as close to reality, but also adding a storyline and depth. There are small gems throughout the film I made sure we included, from humorous fails, magical reintroductions and original screen used props such as the brooch. I felt I had to make sure I served justice from my end in paying homage to a film that never fails to make me smile.
What's next for you? Any exciting plans coming up this year?
Honestly? I had a couple of months off. I had some working on myself to do. Slowing down mentally, recharging after investing emotionally and physically in Mrs. Doubtfire left me really burnt out. When you tick off lots of boxes on the list of life, it's beyond rewarding and I've learned that not everything has to shock the world 24/7. That being said, I got myself a new face so I'm currently healing from that before I reveal that, which will most likely break the internet as always because people are fascinated with cosmetic work. Anyone that knows me personally will note the obvious changes I've been going through as I am in a transitional period of my life and career. My working relationship with Balenciaga will continue and I'm excited to fuck shit up as I do best. Warping the lines between what's real and what's fake is at the core of what I do. I live my life like a live movie and that's not something I'm willing to compromise on.
Photos courtesy of Alexis Stone