As Japan says goodbye to the Heisei era, Shiseido looks back on the last three decades, from the bubble economy to yuru fuwa iyashi otono kawaii joshi.

At the stroke of midnight on May 1, Japan’s Heisei era, coinciding with the reign of abdicating Emperor Akihito, will come to a close, and the new imperial era, to be called Reiwa, will begin. The changeover has all of Japan (even ATMs) taking a moment to reflect on the 30 years of the Heisei period, and for cosmetics company Shiseido, that means a special look back at three decades of Japanese women’s beauty trends.

Shiseido’s stylists divided up the Heisei period, which started in 1989, into six five-year blocks, starting with what it calls the “Bubble Gorgeous” trend of 1989-1993, with the fading light of the bubble economy of the 1980s still present in its raised bangs, vivid lipstick, and pronounced eyebrows.

Things change dramatically for 1994-1998, though, with the rise of the Amura look, inspired by J-pop’s number-one recording artist, Namie Amuro. The Okinawan-born songstresses had a huge impact on the fashion world, with her long, straight hair (dyed brown) and thin, arching eyebrows becoming the defining trends of the mid ‘90s.

As different as the first two Heisei styles may look, however, that’s actually the same model demonstrating each of them. In fact, Shiseido employed the same model for the entire project, which next heads to 1999-2003, when the gyaru, or gal, look brought bleach-blond hair, bronze-toned skin, and heavy eyeliner to the fashion forefront.

But the attention-grabbing aesthetic of the gyaru may have been a bit too extreme for long-term mainstream popularity in Japan, and for 2004-2008, much of it was undone in favor of a classically soft and feminine look, and while women of this era didn’t go back to the perms of the 1980s, they did start adding a bit more volume back into their styles, with light twists resting on the shoulders becoming the go-to choice for dates, parties, and other special occasions.

This would evolve into the “yuru fuwa iyashi otono kawaii joshi,” or “loose, soft, soothing mature cute girl” trend of 2009-2013, which represented a desire for relaxed, understated looks, with rosy cheeks and puffy eyes seen as desirable physical traits.

And then, proving that if you wait long enough, everything eventually comes back into style, since 2014 there’s been a resurgence in the brightly colored lipsticks of the bubble economy years, though this time paired with straighter hair than the first time around.

Finally, Shiseido closes out its retrospective with a look towards the future, offering a potential combination of hair/makeup trends for the start of the new Reiwa period.

Finding out whether or not that predication proves true, though, is just one of the may things we’ll have to look forward to in the new era.

Source: Shiseido
Featured image: Shiseido
Top image: Shiseido

Insert images: YouTube/資生堂 Shiseido Co., Ltd., Shiseido
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