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Special thanks to the Japan Society
(212) 832-1155

From Hand in Tokyo:
Telephone 0120-266-841

There is a section of central Tokyo where fashion is at its cutting edge, at its zenith. This area of the city is called Shibuya. Shibuya is a vivid, forward place, situated between an area similar to New York Cityís Madison Avenue on one side, and the East Village on the other. Shibuya descends into a valley, a bowl-like vessel booming with culture, fashion and art. Shibuya has many schools, thus many students, many young people. These young people, particularly the girls, the kogyaru, the "trendy girls" or "girlettes," push the envelope in setting styles. The phenomenon of "girlettes" competing to be on the most sophisticated edge of fashion offers a feast for the eye.

Kazuo Ishikura
The Shibuya style as created by the
From Hand Makeup Academy.

Makeup and hair are as vital to the kogyaru look as are their clothes. The darkening or lightening of the face -- glitter, sparkle, streaked hair, frosted lips. The new Japanese girl -- who is also never without her cell phone and platform shoes -- is challenging the traditional esthetics of fashion and beauty.

In the midst of this vital visual art is Tokyoís premier makeup art school, From Hand, the Teruko Kobayashi Makeup Academy.

Teruko Kobayashi, one of Japanís leading makeup artists, is the Director of From Hand. From Handís philosophy is to push traditional Japanese beauty to its most sophisticated level. The schoolís message: donít get caught up in conventional expressions of makeup.

Kazuo Ishikura

Makeup is applied by hand; it is tactile. Ms. Kobayashi maintains that the skin is the most perceptive of the organs. Our skin absorbs the influences of the outside world. The face is the medium between the internal person and the exterior world. Our mental state, our physical well-being, shows on our skin -- whether we feel confident or not, happy or unhappy. The hands of the makeup artist measure, feel, touch, and beautify on the outside, but the ultimate goal is to polish the soul. From Handís is a total approach -- to deconstruct the whole person -- to use an instinctual and inspirational process to create an entire visual experience.

Ms. Kobayashi believes that being situated in Shibuya, amid the trendy young girls, offers an optimal opportunity to observe the metamorphosis of a young girl as she becomes aware of her femaleness. The constant stroking and tossing of her hair, touching her face and skin, looking at herself in the mirror, the "girlette" learns who, and what, she is.

Watching and interpreting girlsí behavior while they are still young enough to be instinctive -- not yet self-conscious -- fascinates From Handís instructors and students. At that tender age, girls display a deeply human form of self-love.

Fashion Finds was fortunate to experience a slice of Shibuya, courtesy of From Handís Teruko Kobayashi and her best students, in a fantastic makeup demonstration held at the Japan Society in Manhattan.

Half of the makeover is adlibbed by the makeup artist; the other half planned. Each makeup artistís color palette is custom made by him or her. Normally, the makeup application takes about an hour, but for this demonstration, the artists applied the miraculous makeup in twenty minutes. The subjects were twelve members of the audience, ranging in age from fourteen to fifty.

The subjects are seated on stools on the stage; the artists surround them.

First, hair pieces are fixed onto the hair. The hair pieces ranged in color from black, dark brown, light brown, auburn, to pink-blonde. The hair pieces are flat, stiff, and spiked. The ornate and complicated hair pieces are arranged with amazing swiftness and dexterity.

The lights are then dimmed; melodic, softly techno music begins. The artists stand poised, arms extended, each differently, holding sponges, powders puffs, brushes. Then they all begin, in choreographed, almost synchronized, dance motions, to apply the base of the makeup. The artists stroke and brush the face, yet they stand away, not up close, all extension.

They barely look as if they are touching the subjects (one subject told us after the show that she could barely feel the touch of the artist). A clear gel is applied.

Then what seems to be a series of foundations and powders create an almost tabula rasa, or primed canvas for the artistry that is to follow. As the artists continue to work and create, the lights on the stage get brighter and brighter, so the audience can see the full effect. The movements of the artists are varied in range and motion: from athletic, aerobic, balletic, to minimal.

Color is dabbed, lip color blended, and powder is thrown in the air around the subject, as the virtuoso artists use the lush colors on their palettes. Before application, the final colors are mixed on two-inch square wooden blocks.

The result, amazing. Color, so dramatic, so brave. Yet it all seems natural and special for each subject. Everyone appears transformed, yet still themselves. The artists truly seemed to intuit the person, then bring the inside out. One young girl was made up with primary colors: very bright. On another subject, apricots and peach colors were used. On another yellows and blues.

And here it was, what Ms. Kobayashi called a "boom of the face."

Next, step-by-step, more Shibuya-style makeovers!
Photo at top of page by Kazuo Ishikura