How would Leona Yamada describe her make-up artistry in three words? “Gothic, transitional, and (a) statement,” the 19 year-old artist says.
Scroll through her portfolio and you’ll see just that. It’s a mirage of the make-up artist’s idealised Japanese utopia: alien-like eyebrows, dark eyeshadow, coloured contact lenses, and graphic eyeliner art resembling a shuriken, also known as a Japanese hidden dagger.
It’s Yamada’s deliberate defiance to Japan’s traditional beauty standards which champion a woman’s purity and fragility.
Born and raised in Tokyo, Yamada has always been fascinated by the power in which make-up had to transform herself into anyone she wanted to be.
“I love the transition of me, to my alter ego. I love feeling powerful through having different makeup looks and truly presenting myself as someone strong -and maybe even a little bit scary,” she chuckles. “I’ve been doing this since I was 16!”
Now based in London, Yamada invited me to her south-east London flat to come behind the scenes of her next portfolio look.
This time, she’s envisioned a vampy seductress. Take a look at a series of photos of the look, shot by Clarabelle Tan, modelled by Yuriya Okano.
You can also view her work on Instagram @justt.leona
Featured image by Clarabelle Tan