Nadia Lee Cohen's "A Guide to Indulgence" Takes the Quest for Beauty to Captivating and Grotesque New Heights

text by Abby Schreiber / photography by Nadia Lee Cohen

British photographer, filmmaker and model Nadia Lee Cohen (who recently appeared in our fashion tribute to Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar), frequently captures the fine line between beauty and monstrosity, showing in her striking, color-soaked images just how subtle the differences between the two extremes may really be. In her newest series, "A Guide to Indulgence," she takes our society's quest for beauty and perfection to its distorted extreme, portraying a group of women with grotesque, made up visages. On the one hand, their looks are exaggerated thanks to masks, yet on the other, they uncannily bring to mind plenty of women (and men) with plumped up, surgically altered faces. Shot on location in Palm Springs, California and styled by Soki Mak, the series has a retro, '50s-era feel, heightened by old school props and garish jello molds, deviled eggs and other horrifying Eisenhower-Era recipes.

Cohen shared an artist's statement about the project and her intentions for it:

"The constant pressure faced in striving for perfection is so familiar in the world we inhabit. Therefore, in response to homogenous ideals of beauty I wanted to create a satirical world in which the female inhabitants have pushed their appearances into cartoonish, melodramatic and extreme representations of femininity; yet are still looking to improve them selves even further.

'A Guide to Indulgence' is an entirely personal series of images and film, which hopefully subtly exposes the cracks beneath the surface; depicted through music, darting eyes beneath masks and subtle word play, these features endeavor to puncture an environment that unless scrutinised appears entirely perfect."

It's a captivating -- but supremely unsettling -- work that appears as both a photo series, which we're excited to be premiering here, and a film that debuted over at Nowness. Click through the slideshow to see Cohen's photos and scroll down to peep the video.

Watch the accompanying short film, which premiered on Nowness, below:

Photography by Nadia Lee Cohen

Styling by Soki Mak

Hair and wigs by Sami Knight

Makeup by Beau Nelson

Set design by Victoria H Tam

Models: Chloe Black, Rachel Daily, Carina Kaissi, Genna Umansky, Isabella Ferrada, Victoria Valenzuela and Stella Morello

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