From the moment I saw her angelic, alien, glitter-lacquered face I have been captivated by Toshi Salvino. She is truly otherworldly, from her colorful and exaggeratedly feminine makeup looks to her bright and textured outfits piled high with accessories. It doesn't seem like she puts on makeup to transform into someone else, but rather to become more of herself, and it's that authenticity that makes her so hypnotic.
And if her 70k Instagram followers are any indication, I'm not the only one who finds her personality fascinating. An HMUA and interactive performance artist, she's a doll come to life, complete with tattoos that look like doll joints. Her talents caught the eye of Sebastian Masuda who invited her to model for Harajuku fashion brand 6% Doki Doki. Although heavily inspired by Japanese fashion, Toshi’s style is eclectic and has evolved into something that’s completely her own.
Based on all of her accomplishments and her beautifully ethereal presence, I didn't even expect Toshi to reply to my interview request, let alone give such detailed and articulate answers. Toshi is genuinely one of the kindest and most sincere people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to. It’s greatly inspiring to meet someone who has put so much effort into becoming who they’re meant to be.
If you were to create a 3 song playlist to your life, what songs would you include and why? Black Sheep by Metric! I’m not sure why but this song has been a really strong anthem for me for a long time...obviously the name, but a lot of Metric’s music in general has helped me grow and good sounds for my brain to work with in multiple moods, which is really important in my opinion. I’m very easily effected by music but Metric doesn’t ever seem to be a bad choice. Not to mention the Scott Pilgrim movie being a very staple / important cultural marker for a lot of people in my generation, so it kind of ties me to my friends and those around me with a shared cultural experience.
Inner Universe by Origa - not to use another pop culture reference, but Ghost in the Shell really shaped me a lot growing up as well. Anthem for a strong female lead! Origa’s incredible vocals blew me away and resonated with my classical vocal training, while the dark/electronic elements feed into my techno-soul. Cyborg culture is really important to me and I want to be a hybrid one day. . . so this song is a beautiful alternate reality reminder for me in a way.
The third one. . . I will leave open ended. Probably something by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, FEMM, or an anime theme song opening. I don’t like restrictions. I know I will regret my choice if I make it final, lol!
How has your style changed over time? Baby child Toshi: My mom would dress me in like, Lolita looking dresses as a baby lol. Also in dresses that my grandma made to match my American girl doll.
Kiddo Toshi: Rambunctious, dirt-covered tomboy child. Zip off camouflage cargo pants, oversized black T-shirt. Mismatched shoes. I also would love to wear my pink power rangers costume like, casually.
Age 8/9/10: Gothic fairy princess. Ripped up tutu skirts. Still mismatched shoes. Add belts across chest, harness style. Lots of belts. Hair has been dyed pink for the first time! I also started wearing, like, Chobits cosplay ears that I made out of foam. Discovers makeup. . . Blue lipstick, fairy swirls around eyes.
Age 12-16: Started experimenting with “doll” style occasionally, by matching with my first Ball Jointed Doll. Really into uniforms and still quite goth, adding hipster elements like collared shirts, skinny jeans, converse, but all very different colors and patterns. Hair goes from pink to red to purple to orange to split blue and pink etc etc. Wearing too much eyeliner smudged across my face on the regular, bright red cheeks, still doing fairy swirls and stuff.
Age 17-20: Fairly hardcore goth Lolita influence and doll style. Petticoat, skirt, platform shoes every day. Accessories and doll eye make up every day, wear wigs weekly. First professional SFX makeup job and actress as doll character. Corset training almost daily.
22-25: Much more refined, but still all over the place genre-wise. Much for into casual comfortable clothes. Still love black, but now incorporates lots of bright patterns and colors. Demonia boots every day. Dress up INTENSE / hard core style for gigs/work/events but can appreciate a much more simple aesthetic for everyday life, finally. (Lol) Do you think your style will change at all in the future? Oh yes, but also no. My style has always been “mix a bunch of styles together” so in that sense, I think it will remain the same. I’ve been alternative my whole life, that will never go away.
What do you wish you had known when you were younger? Buy shoe insoles lol. Also not everyone is out to get you, sometimes they’re legitimately just curious.
How do you respond to people that are critical of your style? Honestly, i get very little negative feedback anymore, which is incredible. When i do, i simply ignore it, since they usually point out something that genuinely IS an influence, like I look like a demon clown or something. Like, lol, yes sir, you are correct. So i just try to not let it get to me. If someone is making fun of you or being negative, they are usually upset with something in THIER own life or insecure. So i try to keep that in mind that their attack is coming from hurt usually.
What is your favorite outfit?
Don’t even ask me that. But usually black+white patterned, or a super Lacey flowy situation, like what i wore one of the days of Tekko 2018.
Who are your biggest style inspirations? The original 6% Dokidoki girls, Yuka and Vani, and all the incredible OG girls who participated in the Harajuku events I’d find on google at 5am as a kid. . .
Elena Kanagy-Loux (@erenanaomi on IG) ...her mix of lingerie and bondage gear is sublime. She’s a true artist with her style and I’ve felt so much more confident and excited to wear pastels after seeing her.
@Happyunbirthday1 Tori Lydick. . . .a TRUE CARTOON QUEEEEEEN. I really can’t even explain how in tune i feel with her but she turns it up to TEN. Such variety and so much POP! I really appreciate her curation.
Honestly i could go on forever about how many cuties are out there who have influenced me. I feel like we have such an incredible community of talented stylists that almost everyone i see or meet in the Kawaii scene leaves an impression somehow.
What work are you most proud of?
Probably some of the bigger events we’ve done at The McKittrick Hotel for halloween or something. . .they’re nex-level parties with stage performances with the most incredible dancers. I love that community so much and my makeup designs must go hand in hand with the costume design which is out of this world. . . Also pretty pleased with the QUALIATIK “Mother Tongue” music video i worked on recently. It was pretty fun making alternate dimensional beings. :) Most of my favorite works are when I’m part of a whole team to create something bigger, not just me alone doing something. Although I aim to be creating some intense stuff by myself coming up, I think that having a hive-mind of artists will always get you some wild and stunning results.
What's been the most transformative experience of your life? Oof. Moving to NYC. Having real life kick me in the face going from big fish in a little pond to rainbow fish in an ocean of other rainbow fish, with lots of strong waves and pollution in the water. It made me so much stronger and I’ve gotten professional opportunities and growth i would never have gotten anywhere else. I’ve moved away recently but it will always be a very special place to me.