Co-founded by Michael Harding and Hannah Elwell, Altered States is a new magazine seeing beauty through a subcultural lens
A beauty magazine through the eyes of subculture. That’s Altered States.
“Our ethos is cultural innovation and authenticity, it’s at the forefront of every creative that we produce,” says Editor-in-Chief Michael Harding, a session stylist who moved to London from Vancouver 15 years ago and styles hair for the likes of Dazed and Another Man. Co-founded with Fashion Director Hannah Elwell, Altered States was realised through lockdown as the couple prepared for another arrival: their now eight week-old son, Phoenix, who the magazine is dedicated to.
Titled Appreciation, the first issue is an energetic mix of people doing their thing, with photographers including Samuel Bradley, Will Scarborough, Daniel Ciufo, Josh Hight and Emily Lipson.
Katsu Naito has reprinted his iconic early-90s documentary of Meatpacking District streetwalkers, West Side Rendezvous. And there’s a story from hair artist Bob Recine, who, as a young punk met Andy Warhol and was introduced to Jean Louis David by the soup-erstar.
“Another documentary we’ve featured is The Russians by Nathan Farb,” shares Harding. “Nathan travelled to the Soviet Union and photographed over 500 people during the Cold War for the American Intelligence Agency. Those pictures, taken in 1977, are very relevant in a beauty sense because of the hair, the way they were photographed in portrait style and the lighting, which is very modern. We wanted to be more of a research-based beauty magazine and want people to see a continuity between the content we’re producing and the content we’re including that’s archival.”
Esteemed hairstylist (and Dazed contributing beauty editor) Gary Gill is interviewed, revealing how music shaped his outlook. Clare Shilland, meanwhile, was commissioned to photograph queer skaters in Hackney.
“I’ve been a skateboarder my whole life, so the story with Clare was important,” says Harding. “Are the LGBTQ community being supported enough? It’s only recently, maybe the last five years, the skateboarding industry has been more inclusive. It was interesting speaking to the spectrum of ages and sexualities, how they identified.
“The sincerity of DIY, build, skate and destroy, that mentality, is what it’s always been about. A bunch of people coming together, passionate about the same thing.”
“Our magazine isn’t for people that just care about eyeliner and hairspray,” he declares. “Hopefully issue two will be further impressive; we’ll work even harder because everyone seems happy with it. I don’t want to let them down.”