If you associate futuristic fashion with Joan Jetson’s gravity-defying triangular collar, Simon Huck would kindly ask that you rethink things.
The publicist and longtime friend of Kim Kardashian West just launched A. Human, a body modification line and immersive theater experience.
The designs include bulging neck implants (as seen on Kardashian West), stilettos built into heels, and vestigial tails growing every which way out of a ribcage.
“Our elevator pitch was that A. Human is a futuristic fashion brand,” Huck said at the brand’s opening. “Instead of selling clothing, we sell body modifications.” (A. Human actually does sell clothing—a $40 white t-shirt that comes customized with a bespoke heart.)
Depending on your ick factor tolerance, A. Human (an autocorrect-defying name if there ever was one) will freak you out or turn you on.
The SoHo pop-up, which costs $40 to enter and runs until September 30, follows the Instagrammable tradition of similar concepts like Color Factory or 29Rooms, except it eschews brightly colored ball pits for protruding spinal cords. “Think of it as an adult Disneyland,” Huck said.
Though a spoken-word intro to the experience warns some of its content might make you queasy, Huck insisted that the motivation behind A. Human was meant to be spirited, not spooky. As the longtime sci-fi enthusiast said, “We kept asking ourselves, ‘How do we approach this in a way that doesn’t feel horror, or dark, or dystopian?’”
Huck enlisted a team he called Society of Spectacle to dream up the space. Contributors include Nicola Formichetti (who’s perhaps most fondly remembered as the lead stylist behind Lady Gaga's infamous “meat dress”) and Isamaya Ffrench, a makeup artist who recently painted the face of Rihanna on Vogue UK’s September cover.
Huck’s influences vary—he said his team took reference from “architecture, fashion, art, and Instagram accounts”—but he dismissed the idea that his work should live simply on the platform.
“Instagram is just another form of showcasing your life that’s popular right now, just like Facebook or any older social media,” he said.
Rather than merely garner double taps, Huck hopes that the experience will empower viewers to reimagine how they view—and perhaps blur—the difference between clothing and the body.
The modifications are silicone prosthetics, which took 2 to 3 hours to apply to Kardashian West. Sad news for Halloween costume shoppers: you can't buy them in-store, although A. Human hopes you visit the installation, and imagine a future where it's possible to express yourself in the most ghoul-chic way.
Indeed, many people at the opening treated the experience as an Instagram thirst trap. It's hard not to, as the maze of activations include photogenic beating hearts, a sculpture made out of dozens of hands, and a model showing off her bespoke marble teeth. (And if you’ve gone to the event stag, don’t worry—staffers abound at the exhibit, and are eager to donate their photography services to each guest.)
Plus, prior to the pop-up’s debut, Huck enlisted his famous friends to hype the line. Along with Kardashian West, Chrissy Teigen shared her own neck implant. The model Andreja Pejic wore shoulder spikes A. Human designed in tandem with Nicola Formichetti, and Tan France wore a faux-ruffled collar worthy of a 24th century production of Hamlet.
Given Huck’s marketing background, strategic celebrity placement was smart. “All of those people tell stories on a daily basis through their social media and voices,” Huck said. “When I approached them with the concept, there was no hesitation. They immediately wanted in.”
Huck told Vogue that his team “didn’t want to root any of our modifications on the idea of existing insecurities or discomforts.” That mentality is a sharp departure from the airbrushed, aesthetics-minded social circle Huck has made his name in.
Eight years ago, Huck starred in The Spin Crowd, an ill-fated reality show covering the goings-on of Command PR, a firm he founded with former business partner Jonathan Cheban.
As the Huffington Post reported, the show’s most notorious scene involved Cheban disciplining a staffer for not getting the lip filler he wanted her to. Later, Huck chastised Cheban, calling his behavior “ludicrous.”
Cheban was at the event’s opening, along with other celebrities such as Katie Holmes, Olivia Palermo, and Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness. Holmes wore a violet, rouched Isabel Marant dress that was less-than-futuristic—a fitting reminder that Huck’s work is more rooted in expert branding than it is in reality.
A. Human is at 48 Mercer Street, NYC, until September 30. More details here.