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Brooke Candy's look while playing an underground club in Berlin last week can best be described as the alien from Alien, but with a penchant for 1920s finger waves. Candy, the 26-year-old rapper/singer, was in the German city to give a performance in celebration of her just-released MAC makeup collection, which is the second collaboration she's done with the cosmetics company. It seems like a no-brainer partnership, since Candy's on pace to overtake Lady Gaga in the weird beauty looks department – she knows how to wield an eye gloss.
Candy has an interesting resume. She's been a stripper, an assistant to Rachel Zoe, and dressed mannequins at Hustler, where her dad was the CFO. She broke out in 2012 after appearing in a Grimes video, and is a frequent collaborator with Steven Klein and Nicola Formichetti. Sia has since taken the singer under her wing, and she executive produced Candy's latest song, "Happy Days." With all of these influences, it's not surprising that her look runs the gamut from deranged Barbie doll to goth showgirl.
Racked sat down with Candy the day after the performance to talk to her about how drag queens influenced her look, her beauty regrets, and the coolest places she shops.
What products did you absolutely have to have in the collection?
Probably the Boot Black eye liner and the eye glosses, which can be used several ways. To me that's so simple, so modern. No makeup and just gloss on the lids, like sci-fi. It's cool.
What was the inspiration for the campaign shoot? How would you describe it?
I would describe it as a gothic surrealist Grace Jones. Grace Jones and surrealism is always part of the inspiration for what I do. I worked with Steven Klein and he always adds that gothic element.
What is the white pigment that's all over you?
It was paint. It was actually intense. It was a process. We had to apply and apply in layers, because it was full body paint. It would dry and we would shoot for a few hours and then I'd have to take it off, get in the shower, get fully cleansed and then do it again, then shoot, then change the look.
Makeup is obviously a huge part of your persona. What are some of your early makeup memories?
I first started when I was 12, and it was a lot of peer pressure. I had to fight for it. I had strict parents who were slightly conservative when it came to that type of stuff. I didn't have to sneak it really. I was about 12 when I bought my first MAC product actually. It was the Studio Fix powder and all the girls were wearing that, so I was like, Oh, I have to wear that! The makeup for me evolved rather quickly. By the time I was in tenth or eleventh grade I had purple hair and I was doing conceptual makeup looks. That's when I really started to experiment.
How did you learn how to do it?
In high school, I was self taught and I watched other girls around me. When I left the town I grew up in and I moved to San Francisco, I met drag queens who kind of raised me a bit. They taught me how to clean it up, how to contour.
What are some of the best tricks that you picked up from them that you still use?
Face tape! I actually have it on right now. It's just tape. You buy these elastic cords and you tie them together and you tape near your hair line. You attach the elastic cords and it pulls you so you can actually change the shape of the face. It's more than just a lift. You can fully change your features, which for a drag queen is important because they want to look as feminine as possible. They taught me how to create more androgynous looks. Bleaching an eyebrow changes your facial shape and creates a more masculine look, which is my favorite. I like to be as androgynous as possible.
Any looks you tried that you regret or look back on and say, "What was I thinking?"
I have no regrets. Every experience in this life is important. It's a lesson. It's room for us to grow and learn, but with that being said, I have a couple of more intense looks like the braids that I was doing for a while. Also I did a bald cap. I don't know if it was the most flattering, but to me it was cool.
Do you wear makeup at the gym?
I'm an exercise fanatic. God, no. Do people do that? That is actually crazy.
What's your everyday makeup look? Do you go out like this when you're running errands? [Ed note: She had a pink mullet, purple eyes and lips and what appeared to be gray foundation.]
No, when I'm working I'm dramatic and I like to transform. It helps me feel more confident in this environment. But when I'm not working I feel most confident just bare, just simple. A little bit of mascara and lip balm, bleached eyebrows.
What about skin care?
It's pretty intense. I have really sensitive skin and I've struggled with acne my whole life. I get a ton of medical facials. I do a lot of steaming. I'll use a handheld steamer in the morning and at night, and I use Epicuren products. They're all natural. I think that's really important for sensitive skin, no chemicals. And witch hazel toner. A lot of detoxifying masks. I actually see this woman, Amy Rae, she's in Los Angeles and she really promotes all organic and all natural and just treating your skin as gently and lovingly as possible. She's actually really helping me transform my skin. I've tried for years and never made a dent and she's really helping me.
You've had a lot of jobs and experiences and worked with a lot of people. What beauty and style tips have inspired you?
I take inspiration from really unconventional things. It's hard for me to understand my creative process when I'm creating a look or when it comes to my aesthetic. I take inspiration from trees. And the spots on a Dalmatian. When I was hanging out with drag queens, they influenced a lot of the drama, like the high-intensity makeup for sure. I'm changing. Where I derive inspiration from is very weird. Like, this look was inspired by a plank of wood. That's my thought process. It's always changing. I just shape shift.
Where do you like to shop for beauty products and clothes?
The Hair Shop in LA is really cool and they have really great wigs, and cool hair accessories. Slauson's swap meet, they have some cool trinkets, like really strange hair accessories and gold teeth. Japan has this really cool store called Dog. It's all reworked vintage and all customized. They have reworked punk leather jackets that are all hand painted. It's art. It's really cool.
Do you work with any designers on a regular basis?
My best friend Seth Pratt. We work together a lot on my video costumes. Other than that I like to continuously try new designers. When I am styled up, there's a designer Ashley Williams, she's a London-based designer. To me she's the epitome of London cool. She's really creative.
Who would your dream collaborator be?
Stanley Kubrick, Salvador Dali, Grace Jones, and GG Allin.
Disclosure: MAC paid for this writer's travel and lodging in Berlin.