Subiksha Shivakumar shares a surprising revelation right from the start as our interview kicks off: “You might find it weird, but my grandfather inspired me to start experimenting with makeup.” She allows a moment for my reaction and elaborates, “Growing up, I was fascinated with the crease between his brows. So, I would go to my room and use makeup to try and recreate it on my forehead. I’ve always found the unconventional to be so beautiful,” she explains, adding that our insecurities do tend to push us to embrace makeup. In her case, it was her dark circles, “It’s genetic, passed on from generation to generation like a gift. I used to hate them, but I’ve grown to love them. As much as I’m not scared of showing them I do acknowledge that sometimes they do make me look a little tired.”
The 24-year-old model and beauty enthusiast’s Instagram feed could be a Pinterest board of exciting fashion and experimental beauty looks. Her aesthetic is a melting pot of cultures, having grown up between the United States, Vellore in Tamil Nadu (the place she calls home) and Bengaluru for fashion school. “I think all three places have helped me celebrate who I am — I’ve had to navigate being a brown girl in America, and then being dark-skinned in Tamil Nadu (“ironic, no?”) and finally feeling liberated in Bengaluru because the city allowed me to be who I wanted to be,” she says. Shivakumar’s passion for fashion and styling propelled her into a successful modelling career. It all started with DIY shoots for college seniors, and from there, she has ventured on to model for renowned brands such as Coca-Cola, Raw Mango, and Manish Malhotra, among others.
“Editorial shoots sparked my interest in fashion styling and makeup. I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with proportions,” she says, citing makeup artists Shantanu Dhope and Rowi Singh as her influences. With a penchant for blurring the lines between ethnic and modern, Shivakumar is self-assured in how she presents herself and even admits to making her own clothes, a flex she isn’t shy to flex. “When I dress up, I channel my alter ego. I honestly don’t feel human when I tap into this other persona of mine. I’m so confident. I become that girl. There’s nothing that can faze me. I get my sh*t done. And just flawlessly. That’s how I feel, at least,” she confesses.
Does she have sage advice for anyone looking to play with makeup? “Starting early is key; there’s no time like the present. When I began experimenting with makeup, it felt like mixing, matching and clashing colours, lines, angles, and everything in between. The more you try, the more variations you discover. It’s crucial to understand that there’s no concept of ‘wrong’ makeup—every attempt is a different expression.” She suggests beginning with a classic winged liner and gradually introducing colour. Shivakumar recommends investing in quality coloured liners to open up new possibilities. “Embrace the creative process and let your experimentation lead to unique and personalised styles,” she signs off.