“Everything I do, I’m predicting what the future will look like,” says Raisa Flowers. Throughout her career, the New York City makeup artist, club fixture, and model—she’s walked for shows like Gyspy Sport and Savage x Fenty—has been defying traditional beauty codes, challenging the industry’s status quo, and pushing for more Black representation in the editorial world. Amid the renewed urgency around the Black Lives Matter movement, she’s continuing to buck whitewashed beauty ideals and stretch the ordinary imagination with her ethereal cyborg aesthetic.
Welcome to Artist Spotlight #22 series on my blog.
Flowers’s latest muse, Chinese and Jamaican model Symone Lu, embodies the kind of off-kilter beauty that drives and inspires her aesthetic. “A lot of people wouldn’t understand [her look] because she has a missing tooth, but it is a part of her character,” explains Flowers. “I feel like it brings out her confidence in this way. It’s going against the traditional aspects of what it means to be beautiful, and I love that.” From slicking Lu’s lids and lips in vinyl jet-black paint to drawing on a set of high-arched, pencil-thin brows to play up an icy gaze, Flowers helps her transform into two different real-life characters to chameleonic effect.
Of course, Flowers, with her bleached brows, supernatural skin, and constellation of piercings, continues to be her own canvas, too. On any given day, her presentation can run the gamut from natural to hypernatural to out of this world. “Some days I want to be freaky and wear contacts and do a whole look,” she says of her mesmerizing mismatched gaze paired with a glossy, mocha brown-lined mouth.
“These looks are reflective of myself, and the people who I create with,” says Flowers, who works regularly with singer Kelela and Brooklyn rapper Junglepussy. Looking light years ahead, Flowers has dreamed up three high-impact makeup looks that capture the symbiotic relationship between unapologetic self-expression and out-there oddities. “It’s super alienesque,” says Flowers. “I feel like in the future, that’s how we’re going to look anyways.”
“Glossy…shiny…cool,” is how Flowers describes the graphic black and crimson color story that Lu wears. Beneath a curtain of razor-sharp micro-fringe, Lu’s lids are painted with thick, out-to-there wings and punctuated by scarlet slashes along the brow bones. An onyx lip, blurred away at the sides, finishes the job.
The ultimate mutant hero muse? That would be Storm from X-Men. “She’s a character I relate to with her strength and how powerful she is,” explains Flowers, who helps Lu channel the Marvel character with ultra-thin brows ( “I love the skinny brow look because it reminds me of my mom,” she says), an icy blue cut-crease, white-out contacts, and overlined lips. “I wanted to play off the bouffant with the crazy makeup because I feel in the future, this is how housewives will look,” says Flowers.
“I wanted it to look super mismatchy,” says Flowers of her exaggerated, intentionally clashing cat eyes; one wing saturated in chalky white with a silver-blue contact, and the other a petrol blue with a dark, pupil-enlarging lens. “With most of my work, I’ll do something really intense [on the eyes], and then something more minimal on the lip,” says Flowers, adding harmony with a neutral yet striking nude lacquered lip traced with brown lip liner.