Mercedes-Benz How To with Rina Sawayama

“I’m torn between what I’m offended by and what I think is a stunning cultural exchange.”

Former GAY TIMES cover star Rina Sawayama fell down the beauty rabbit hole during Mercedes-Benz’s How To to deliver looks, beats and wigs!

During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico City, Rina collaborated with a host of emerging designers and creatives, from jaw-dropping wig sculptures, to makeup artists who are incorporating technological and creative skills in a quest to reimagine beauty in the digital age. 

Makeup artists Lyle Reimer and Sweet Mutuals, and hair sculptor Evanie Frausto were on hand to reinvent Rina in a variety of looks, from the feminine and soft to the avant-garde and grunge.

The project featured MBFT designers Julia Seemann, Amesh Wijesekera, Sandra Weil, Vivetta, DB Berdan, Benito Sanchez, Nobi Talai and William Fan.

Speaking on her How To experience, Rina expressed: “It’s surreal to be here in MBFW Mexico City, being inspired by the people and architecture. It’s been such a reinvigorating experience to creatively reimagine what beauty can be, learning from a cast of inspiring international and Mexican artists, especially with a partner like Mercedes-Benz.”

We sat down with the starlet to discuss queer expression, her beauty inspirations and more.

The world of beauty has become integral to queer and individual expression. When did you start experimenting with beauty, and realise this was an important means of communication?
I remember the first moment that connected fashion and music for me was Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance music video. Since watching that I always knew that fashion and music had to go hand-in-hand, and beauty was always a huge part of runway shows – I always think about the work Pat McGrath did in the 2000s. Beauty for me is part of a total fashion look, and as my fashion has evolved so have my beauty looks.

We live in a generation of reinvention, you have gone through so many signature looks and wigs, where do you get your inspiration from? And is there pressure to constantly switch it up?
I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram and 1990s to 2000s fashion archives. I love switching it up because the fashion concept really provides the job of a character on stage – it allows me to reinterpret the song or performance in many different ways without having to change anything about the song.

Is it important for you to incorporate your Japanese culture when serving looks? Do you think the fashion industry could be more sensitive or inclusive when involving and referencing other cultures?
I’m torn between what I’m offended by and what I think is a stunning cultural exchange. My favourite era of fashion is still Galliano at Dior, despite there being lots of references that would not fly well now (and Galliano himself being a problematic person), I can’t deny the effect it had on my love of fashion at an early age. However what I do get bored by – and something that I saw in a ss20 collection of a famous up-and-coming brand – is the rehash of Asian stereotypes such as Kawaii. I’m extremely disappointed and bored by that

Queer people and fashion have always been intertwined. Why do you think this is?
Simple… taste!

What did you learn from the city of Mexico, and being surrounded by their rising creatives there?
The people in Mexico was so warm and welcoming, and the rising creatives there reflect that in the creative process.

How was your ‘How To Reimagine Beauty’ experience with Mercedes-Benz?
It was wonderful! I got to go to Mexico City, a place I’ve always wanted to go to for the food, and meet creatives not only from Mexico but also from all around the world. I’m constantly working to innovate and reinterpret through my art and it was an amazing experience to further this through beauty, guided by Mercedes-Benz.

What advice would you give upcoming creatives, musicians, artist – who are crafting and exploring their own image and identity?
I would say live life to the fullest and use your art document it, not Instagram or Twitter or Facebook. Always think about the work and enjoy the work, not the rewards.

Follow @MercedesBenzFashion to explore @rinasonline’s journey to learn a new skill from experts. #BenzKnowsHow #MercedesBenzFashion