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Japan To London: Japanese Pin-up Luka Watabe Talks About Her Experiences As A Pinup In London

Before the Meiji era, Japan isolate itself from western culture. People only wore traditional japonse clothing; such as the kimono. During the Meiji era, Japanese people started to slowly adapt to western culture and fashion.

Japanese men started to wear suits, and women of a higher class started to wear western style dresses. Western attire for women was only worn by women who were married to diplomats or of a higher class.

Kimonos were still frequently worn, but combined with western accessories. After WII, western clothing was seen as a symbol of sophistication; Japanese women started to wear western clothing in everyday life, and men’s attire became largely influenced by western culture as well.

Some women in Japan still wear vintage western attire to this day. I spoke to a Japanese women by the name of Luka Watabe - a vintage fashion enthusiast and singer that’s originally from Japan, but living in London, what her experiences is like as pinup in Japan vs London.

Before the Meiji era, Japan isolate itself from western culture. People only wore traditional japonse clothing; such as the kimono. During the Meiji era, Japanese people started to slowly adapt to western culture and fashion.  Japanese men started to wear suits, and women of a higher class started to wear western style dresses. Western attire for women was only worn by women who were married to diplomats or of a higher class.  Kimonos were still frequently worn, but combined with western accessories. After WII, western clothing was seen as a symbol of sophistication; Japanese women started to wear western clothing in everyday life and men’s attire became largely western aswell.  Q: You’re originally from Japan, but moved to London. How do people react to the way you dress in Japan vs in London?  A: “I’m from a small city near Fukuoka. I always stood out, people stared at me. Not really in a negative way, but they looked at me curiously. I was lucky that I had friends and teachers from beauty schools who had unique styles too and who understood and liked my style.   In London, I feel like I can wear whatever I want and be comfortable in my own skin. I sometimes get compliments from strangers and I always appreciate that. London is a big city with a diverse people and I think that helps me to feel ok to express my style.”  Q: How did you first get into vintage fashion and lifestyle and why?  A: I always loved classic movies, music, and especially photography. Such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Patrick Demarchelier. I love looking at classic photography and they always make me feel elegant and happy. That’s how I got into the lifestyle - I want to bring that style.”   Q: What’s your favorite era to dress in and why?  A: “I love the 1950s, I find the era very classic and romantic. I’ve just been to the Dior exhibition in London. I loved every minute there. The hair, makeup, and fashion emphasizes my feminine side. It makes me feel sexy and elegant at the same time.”   Q: You’re a makeup artist as well. What’s your advice for putting on makeup for a pinup/vintage look?  A: “Makeup is a transformation. Whatever makes you feel great that’s the best look for you. However, it sometimes takes some practice to get the right look. I still try different makeup styles depends on occasions. The more you wear makeup and experiment with it, you’ll know better for you and what suits you. Knowing what looks good on you gives you confidence.”  Q: You lived in Japan before moving to London. Do you think living in London has influenced your style? Or have you always dressed the way you do?  A: “London definitely influenced my style. As I said, I always loved vintage photography, films, and music -  but I never dressed like I do now.   Since I moved to London, I started styling my hair and make up like a pinup girl, and wearing vintage style modern clothes. I only recently started buying actual vintage clothes but there’s a large community for vintage lovers in the UK, and I’m meeting a lot of people who also influence me.“  Q: Do you have any advice for maintaining a pinup look?  A: “ I style my hair and makeup everyday, but not always in 100% full glam. It’s good to know how to do a quick version of your styling. For me it’s a simple nice updo that I can do in 5 minutes, with red lipstick and a nice scarf. You don’t have to be always glamorous but knowing a few tricks can maintain the look easily can help you save time when you’re in a rush.”  Q: What’s been your experience so far as an Asian pinup?  A: I’ve recently started putting my pictures on Instagram and people are interested in my style. I didn’t expect it but I’ve started getting more modeling opportunities that I enjoy and meeting a lot of exciting people. I never thought that I would model because I’m short and petite. However, nowadays people are looking for more diversity and the same thing is happening in the vintage/pin up industry. It doesn’t matter what size, age, nationality you are anymore, these things actually make you very unique and original.   Q: What is your advice for women who would like to start dressing in pinup fashion?  A: “Having an idol is always helpful. I look at their pictures and get inspired by their look. I also found out that wearing cat eye style eyeliners and red lipstick always makes you look retro. You can wear something very simple like a pencil skirt and a top but your hair and makeup will add a vintage touch. Having an elegant scarf is also a nice item that adds a vintage element. “   Q: Any up and coming projects we can look forward to?  A: “I love vintage music and I’m singing jazz. I’m quite new in the music industry, so I’m planning to make more videos soon. Hopefully in the near future I can express myself as a vintage style singer and show my style of singing and passion for vintage look.

Q: You’re originally from Japan, but moved to London. How do people react to the way you dress in Japan vs in London?

A: “I’m from a small city near Fukuoka. I always stood out, people stared at me. Not really in a negative way, but more out of curiosity. I was lucky that I had friends and teachers from beauty schools who had unique styles too and who understood and liked my style. 

In London, I feel like I can wear whatever I want and be comfortable in my own skin. I sometimes get compliments from strangers and I always appreciate that. London is a big city with a diverse people and I think that helps me to feel ok to express my style.”

Q: How did you first get into vintage fashion and lifestyle and why?

A: I always loved classic movies, music, and especially photography. Such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Patrick Demarchelier. I love looking at classic photography; it always make me feel elegant and happy. That’s how I got into the lifestyle - I want to bring that style.” 

Q: What’s your favorite era to dress in and why?

A: “I love the 1950s, I find the era very classic and romantic. I’ve just been to the Dior exhibition in London. I loved every minute there. The hair, makeup, and fashion emphasizes my feminine side. It makes me feel sexy and elegant at the same time.”

Before the Meiji era, Japan isolate itself from western culture. People only wore traditional japonse clothing; such as the kimono. During the Meiji era, Japanese people started to slowly adapt to western culture and fashion.  Japanese men started to wear suits, and women of a higher class started to wear western style dresses. Western attire for women was only worn by women who were married to diplomats or of a higher class.  Kimonos were still frequently worn, but combined with western accessories. After WII, western clothing was seen as a symbol of sophistication; Japanese women started to wear western clothing in everyday life and men’s attire became largely western aswell.  Q: You’re originally from Japan, but moved to London. How do people react to the way you dress in Japan vs in London?  A: “I’m from a small city near Fukuoka. I always stood out, people stared at me. Not really in a negative way, but they looked at me curiously. I was lucky that I had friends and teachers from beauty schools who had unique styles too and who understood and liked my style.   In London, I feel like I can wear whatever I want and be comfortable in my own skin. I sometimes get compliments from strangers and I always appreciate that. London is a big city with a diverse people and I think that helps me to feel ok to express my style.”  Q: How did you first get into vintage fashion and lifestyle and why?  A: I always loved classic movies, music, and especially photography. Such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Patrick Demarchelier. I love looking at classic photography and they always make me feel elegant and happy. That’s how I got into the lifestyle - I want to bring that style.”   Q: What’s your favorite era to dress in and why?  A: “I love the 1950s, I find the era very classic and romantic. I’ve just been to the Dior exhibition in London. I loved every minute there. The hair, makeup, and fashion emphasizes my feminine side. It makes me feel sexy and elegant at the same time.”   Q: You’re a makeup artist as well. What’s your advice for putting on makeup for a pinup/vintage look?  A: “Makeup is a transformation. Whatever makes you feel great that’s the best look for you. However, it sometimes takes some practice to get the right look. I still try different makeup styles depends on occasions. The more you wear makeup and experiment with it, you’ll know better for you and what suits you. Knowing what looks good on you gives you confidence.”  Q: You lived in Japan before moving to London. Do you think living in London has influenced your style? Or have you always dressed the way you do?  A: “London definitely influenced my style. As I said, I always loved vintage photography, films, and music -  but I never dressed like I do now.   Since I moved to London, I started styling my hair and make up like a pinup girl, and wearing vintage style modern clothes. I only recently started buying actual vintage clothes but there’s a large community for vintage lovers in the UK, and I’m meeting a lot of people who also influence me.“  Q: Do you have any advice for maintaining a pinup look?  A: “ I style my hair and makeup everyday, but not always in 100% full glam. It’s good to know how to do a quick version of your styling. For me it’s a simple nice updo that I can do in 5 minutes, with red lipstick and a nice scarf. You don’t have to be always glamorous but knowing a few tricks can maintain the look easily can help you save time when you’re in a rush.”  Q: What’s been your experience so far as an Asian pinup?  A: I’ve recently started putting my pictures on Instagram and people are interested in my style. I didn’t expect it but I’ve started getting more modeling opportunities that I enjoy and meeting a lot of exciting people. I never thought that I would model because I’m short and petite. However, nowadays people are looking for more diversity and the same thing is happening in the vintage/pin up industry. It doesn’t matter what size, age, nationality you are anymore, these things actually make you very unique and original.   Q: What is your advice for women who would like to start dressing in pinup fashion?  A: “Having an idol is always helpful. I look at their pictures and get inspired by their look. I also found out that wearing cat eye style eyeliners and red lipstick always makes you look retro. You can wear something very simple like a pencil skirt and a top but your hair and makeup will add a vintage touch. Having an elegant scarf is also a nice item that adds a vintage element. “   Q: Any up and coming projects we can look forward to?  A: “I love vintage music and I’m singing jazz. I’m quite new in the music industry, so I’m planning to make more videos soon. Hopefully in the near future I can express myself as a vintage style singer and show my style of singing and passion for vintage look.

Q: You lived in Japan before moving to London. Do you think living in London has influenced your style? Or have you always dressed the way you do?

A: “London definitely influenced my style. As I said, I always loved vintage photography, films, and music -  but I never dressed like I do now. 

Since I moved to London, I started styling my hair and make up like a pinup girl, and wearing vintage style modern clothes. I only recently started buying actual vintage clothes but there’s a large community for vintage lovers in the UK, and I’m meeting a lot of people who also influence me.“

Q: You’re a makeup artist as well. What’s your advice for putting on makeup for a pinup/vintage look?

A: “Makeup is a transformation. Whatever makes you feel great that’s the best look for you. However, it sometimes takes some practice to get the right look. I still try different makeup styles depends on occasions. The more you wear makeup and experiment with it, you’ll know better for you and what suits you. Knowing what looks good on you gives you confidence.”

Q: Do you have any advice for maintaining a pinup look?

A: “ I style my hair and makeup everyday, but not always in 100% full glam. It’s good to know how to do a quick version of your styling. For me it’s a simple nice updo that I can do in 5 minutes, with red lipstick and a nice scarf. You don’t have to be always glamorous but knowing a few tricks can maintain the look easily can help you save time when you’re in a rush.”

Before the Meiji era, Japan isolate itself from western culture. People only wore traditional japonse clothing; such as the kimono. During the Meiji era, Japanese people started to slowly adapt to western culture and fashion.  Japanese men started to wear suits, and women of a higher class started to wear western style dresses. Western attire for women was only worn by women who were married to diplomats or of a higher class.  Kimonos were still frequently worn, but combined with western accessories. After WII, western clothing was seen as a symbol of sophistication; Japanese women started to wear western clothing in everyday life and men’s attire became largely western aswell.  Q: You’re originally from Japan, but moved to London. How do people react to the way you dress in Japan vs in London?  A: “I’m from a small city near Fukuoka. I always stood out, people stared at me. Not really in a negative way, but they looked at me curiously. I was lucky that I had friends and teachers from beauty schools who had unique styles too and who understood and liked my style.   In London, I feel like I can wear whatever I want and be comfortable in my own skin. I sometimes get compliments from strangers and I always appreciate that. London is a big city with a diverse people and I think that helps me to feel ok to express my style.”  Q: How did you first get into vintage fashion and lifestyle and why?  A: I always loved classic movies, music, and especially photography. Such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Patrick Demarchelier. I love looking at classic photography and they always make me feel elegant and happy. That’s how I got into the lifestyle - I want to bring that style.”   Q: What’s your favorite era to dress in and why?  A: “I love the 1950s, I find the era very classic and romantic. I’ve just been to the Dior exhibition in London. I loved every minute there. The hair, makeup, and fashion emphasizes my feminine side. It makes me feel sexy and elegant at the same time.”   Q: You’re a makeup artist as well. What’s your advice for putting on makeup for a pinup/vintage look?  A: “Makeup is a transformation. Whatever makes you feel great that’s the best look for you. However, it sometimes takes some practice to get the right look. I still try different makeup styles depends on occasions. The more you wear makeup and experiment with it, you’ll know better for you and what suits you. Knowing what looks good on you gives you confidence.”  Q: You lived in Japan before moving to London. Do you think living in London has influenced your style? Or have you always dressed the way you do?  A: “London definitely influenced my style. As I said, I always loved vintage photography, films, and music -  but I never dressed like I do now.   Since I moved to London, I started styling my hair and make up like a pinup girl, and wearing vintage style modern clothes. I only recently started buying actual vintage clothes but there’s a large community for vintage lovers in the UK, and I’m meeting a lot of people who also influence me.“  Q: Do you have any advice for maintaining a pinup look?  A: “ I style my hair and makeup everyday, but not always in 100% full glam. It’s good to know how to do a quick version of your styling. For me it’s a simple nice updo that I can do in 5 minutes, with red lipstick and a nice scarf. You don’t have to be always glamorous but knowing a few tricks can maintain the look easily can help you save time when you’re in a rush.”  Q: What’s been your experience so far as an Asian pinup?  A: I’ve recently started putting my pictures on Instagram and people are interested in my style. I didn’t expect it but I’ve started getting more modeling opportunities that I enjoy and meeting a lot of exciting people. I never thought that I would model because I’m short and petite. However, nowadays people are looking for more diversity and the same thing is happening in the vintage/pin up industry. It doesn’t matter what size, age, nationality you are anymore, these things actually make you very unique and original.   Q: What is your advice for women who would like to start dressing in pinup fashion?  A: “Having an idol is always helpful. I look at their pictures and get inspired by their look. I also found out that wearing cat eye style eyeliners and red lipstick always makes you look retro. You can wear something very simple like a pencil skirt and a top but your hair and makeup will add a vintage touch. Having an elegant scarf is also a nice item that adds a vintage element. “   Q: Any up and coming projects we can look forward to?  A: “I love vintage music and I’m singing jazz. I’m quite new in the music industry, so I’m planning to make more videos soon. Hopefully in the near future I can express myself as a vintage style singer and show my style of singing and passion for vintage look.

Q: What is your advice for women who would like to start dressing in pinup fashion?

A: “Having an idol is always helpful. I look at their pictures and get inspired by their look. I also found out that wearing cat eye style eyeliners and red lipstick always makes you look retro. You can wear something very simple like a pencil skirt and a top but your hair and makeup will add a vintage touch. Having an elegant scarf is also a nice item that adds a vintage element. “

Q: Any up and coming projects we can look forward to?

A: “I love vintage music and I’m singing jazz. I’m quite new in the music industry, so I’m planning to make more videos soon. Hopefully in the near future I can express myself as a vintage style singer and show my style of singing and passion for vintage look. “

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