Bunny Kinney, Creative Director at NOWNESS
NOWNESS, in case you didn’t know, is a digital video channel from Dazed Media that has been running since 2010. As Creative Director at NOWNESS, and former editorial director of Dazed, Bunny Kinney has been at the forefront of making them both a major success.
Born in Canada and raised in Texas, Bunny’s creative history is an impressive one. Before joining Dazed in 2017, he worked with i-D, leading projects for brands like Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Chanel. He also works as a freelance filmmaker, digital consultant, and creative director for clients including Dior, MAC, and L’Oréal. Whatever the project, he never fails to bring his own distinct perspective to it.
He now lives a pebble-throw from the seafront at Hastings. We took a little time from his busy schedule to learn about his life in and around the fashion world.
Were you always interested in fashion?
Not at all. I had quite literally never heard of ‘fashion’ until university. I went to high school in suburban Dallas before information was ubiquitous and easily accessed. It was pre-Wi-Fi, pre-social media. Trends still felt very local and contained. Distinct personal style was hard to come by – the only brands anyone knew were the ones at the mall. I was an outlier to some extent, in that I exclusively wore clothes from the bargain bin at Goodwill – and got made fun of for it!
I think the first time I really thought about luxury fashion was when I saw Project Runway in my first year of college. I remember it dawning on me that fashion was in fact, a creative industry – and a powerful one. By then, I was living in a big East Coast city with many shops with arty magazines like i-D and Dazed, the pages of which educated me on style in a subcultural context. Around that time, I got really turned onto 80s Japanese fashion designers like Issey Miyake, too. But I was studying film with no specific aspirations to work in fashion.
What were your earliest inspirations as a child?
Halloween. Space. Snoopy. Sailor Moon. Where’s Waldo? Nickelodeon. Puppies. I was very into reading, and I was very, very into television. I still really love kids’ entertainment: cartoons, comics, picture books. I’ve become re-obsessed with Richard Scarry’s Busytown recently. I saw a meme someone posted with a photo from Busytown saying something along the lines of “This is what I thought adulthood would be like” – I really feel that!
You studied internationally – what did you study and where?
I first studied film at Emerson in Boston and then later creative writing at Oxford. I also did post-grad degrees in cultural studies and linguistics in the UK, and did some stints abroad as an exchange student in Taipei and Paris, which were more formative experiences than all my other years of education combined.
What was your first break into what you do now?
While I was finishing up my first master’s degree, I was working as a nanny and had a few friends working in film and video production. My friend Pegah Farahmand asked me if I wanted to help her do some story research for some documentaries she was producing at Vice, and after a few months there, I joined them full-time and started producing and creatively directing various productions and projects. That job led me to i-D a few years down the line.
Are you always conscious of what you’re wearing?
Yes, embarrassingly! I’m told it’s a Libra thing. I can’t help it – I really like getting dressed.
How did you get into filmmaking?
After studying it at school, I was really turned off by the idea of filmmaking as I had understood it back then. I had concluded that it wouldn’t really be possible for me to be a director of any kind, as there were so few opportunities. I figured even if I moved to LA and found a leg up into the industry, the endpoint would likely be some other role that I didn’t particularly want. So I moved to New York, interned for some magazines and dabbled in the fashion industry unsuccessfully. It wasn’t until I moved to London and went back to school that filmmaking came calling – because by that point, the world was moving to digital, and there was a growing need for multimedia content that required many of the same skills as traditional filmmaking but was less hierarchical, more anarchic, and thus favoured the young and inexperienced such as myself to assume positions of creative leadership.
Is there one project that stands out in your career so far?
I love the work I did with Chanel called The Fifth Sense. That was a really special project. I particularly loved working with Es Devlin on Mirror Maze, her art installation in Peckham. Launching Dazed Beauty with Isamaya Ffrench and doing our zine with Kylie Jenner and Genesis P-Orridge on the covers was incredible. Working on the music videos for Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album, Thanks for the Dance, was something I could have never predicted, and I was so proud of the films we made.
What’s the one lesson you’d pass on to others?
Slow down! Be nice. Stay curious.
Do you still have unfulfilled ambitions?
So many! A novel!
What does the future hold for you?
Finishing that novel!