When photographer Julia Comita and makeup artist Brenna Drury first connected about collaborating, the two bonded over a common inspiration stemming from vintage advertisements. But they also recognized one major flaw. “We both immediately noticed how white and cis everything was,” Comita tells Variety. “They were very one-sided and not reflective of the world we live in, so it just sort of seemed like the obvious thing to do was work on something around that.”
The result is Prim ’N Poppin’, a project that re-creates retro beauty ads with a more inclusive spin. Drawing on Comita’s photographic eye (she’s captured shots for Saks Fifth Avenue, CoverGirl and Bobbi Brown) and Drury’s talent for makeup (her résumé includes campaigns for Peloton and clients like “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness), the duo’s goal is to shake up preconceived notions displayed in beauty advertising, a world that has been stubbornly rigid for decades.
Explains Comita: “The whole reason for this work is for anybody out there who feels they didn’t see themselves in advertising growing up.”
Settling on ads from the ’70s (“The aesthetic is so cheese,” says Comita), the two knew the most important facet was the models. “We started looking at agencies, and you tend to see a lot of similarities with the size of the models and a lot of white people in general,” says Drury. “There wasn’t a lot of diversity or uniqueness.”
Eventually, the two found an array of talent from all walks of life. One of the models featured in the first five ads is Coral Johnson-McDaniel (pictured above in the first ad, at left), a native of East Texas who identifies as nonbinary. “The fashion industry can be very linear [and] stagnant in progression,” they explain. “If representation would’ve been presented to me, then it not only would’ve made me feel normal, but people who aren’t gay wouldn’t see it as such a ‘shock.’ This project is movement.” prim-poppin.com