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Peter Kaaden disney topless shoot
Photography Peter Kaadan

In pictures: it turns out Disney adults can be sexy

Photographer Peter Kaaden and face painter Janina Zais have teamed up on a playful Disney shoot that’s cute, funny and a bit creepy

“The fashion and beauty industry can sometimes be too serious and that’s not for me. I like it when it’s cute, funny and a bit creepy,” says Janina Zais, hair stylist, make-up artist and body painter. Those are the perfect words to describe Zais’s new shoot with photographer Peter Kaaden, which sees her paint classic Disney characters onto the faces of topless men. While the lighting may be moody, and the setting somewhat sinister (it was shot in Kaaden’s garage in Berlin), ultimately the sight of Goofy and Donald Duck means you have to laugh. “Don’t take life too seriously,” says Zais. “The most important message is to smile.”

The shoot started with Kaaden, who wanted to create something that felt different to everything he was always being pitched. “I really love to do beauty stuff but I didn’t want to do a ‘classic’ beauty shoot with a ‘classic’ beauty face,” he explains. “I don’t think something like a ‘classic beauty face’ should exist.” A fan of Zais’s work, he reached out to her and, after casting the models, together they decided what Disney figures would work best with the models’ faces, making sure to keep things old school by using only characters who lived in the original Mouseton (“or Entenhausen as we call it in Germany”). “I wanted to combine strong beautiful characters with strong beauty characters and that’s what we did,” says Kaaden.

After making her name creating bold, colourful buzzcuts, Zais started doing face painting a couple of years ago for fun and discovered it’s one of her favourite things to do. “I’m inspired by interesting faces and I love the process of how the character fits into a human face and becomes alive!” she says. “I could paint funny characters onto interesting faces forever.” It was the playful experimentation and sense of fun that drew Kaaden to her work, as well as the way it becomes one with the models’ faces, so that you can no longer tell where one ends and the other begins. “They look amazing but there is a special layer that’s super fascinating,” he says. “It’s impossible to really see both the model’s face and the character at the same time. Try it, it’s amazing. You always see just one.”

Photographer Peter Kaaden, make-up artist Janina Zais, casting director Pina Marlene, models Richy at Mint Artist Management and Michael at Modelwek

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