Fashion

Raisa Flowers Inspires Herself in Calvin Klein’s Pride Campaign

Raisa Flowers has stayed booked and busy throughout the last year, pandemic be damned. The New York City-based makeup artist is responsible for some of our favorite beauty looks—including that Rihanna Essence cover—and is a regular contributor to editorials and campaigns alike. Her artistry is instantly recognizable: flawless skin, bold and imaginative eyes, and equal parts inspirational and picture perfect. Beyond her impeccable face beats, Flowers is also a fierce advocate for representation of all types in the fashion industry. She’s been vocal about the pushback she’s received as a plus-size, black and queer makeup artist and works hard to ensure inclusivity for all types of bodies and faces.

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Calvin Klein tapped her for its Pride campaign for just this reason: she lives her life out loud, fearlessly and against the odds to flourish as a creative in a field where homogeneity is the norm. Her allyship is seen through her painting of all faces, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender identity, or color. Calvin Klein is honoring the voices of eight members of the LGBTQIA+ community, a natural extension of the #proudinmycalvins movement, photographing them in intimate settings and asking them to define a moment when they felt most accepted. For Flowers, it came when she was still in school: “I was in Catholic school…when I first shaved my head. My principal was like, ‘We need to watch her because she’s going to be wild.’ I felt like a badass.”

Calvin Klein is also committing to funding organizations that work directly to advocate for equality and safety for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Their plan includes a two-year partnership with The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis center intervention organization for LGBTQIA+ young people. The brand will also work closely with ILGA World and donate funds to the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, with the continued support of the onePULSE Foundation and BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation in Australia.

Ryan McGinley

Below, ELLE checks in with Flowers about her plans for Pride this year, her go-to CK pieces, and what makeup look she’s pushing this summer.


What’s the look of Pride 2021 in your words? Tell us your ultimate beat.

Bleach brows, black eyeliner, lashes, and brown lip liner.

How are you celebrating Pride with your community this year?

Hopefully, I’ll get to have a fun moment with my close black queer friends that will feel safe and COVID-free. Safe space for us is so important and we are being more vigilant about creating that. People take safe space for granted.

What was it like shooting the Calvin Klein #proudinmycalvins campaign?

It was a major moment for me. Calvin is iconic. So to be me, and be celebrated for me, feels powerful.

What are your go-to CK pieces?

Bra and underwear, obviously.

raisa flowers proud in my calvins campaign queer black ryan mcginley calvin klein underwear

Ryan McGinley

Who are some of your queer idols or inspirations that you look up to?

Hmm, Queer idols, do they have to be queer? I think there are a lot of people culturally that inspire queer people because they insist on being themselves. I think that is a more interesting question. People that have inspired me to be the fullest version of myself are Missy Elliot, Da Brat, Kelela, and Misses Boogie.

What’s on your hot girl summer playlist?

Stamina by Junglepussy, Preservation by Eartheater, and Du Rag Activity by Baby Keem.

Fill in the blank— if you leave the house with one beauty item, it better be:

Lipgloss.

What’s one of your favorite makeup looks in the last year that you’ve created, whether on yourself or a client?

Imaan Hammam for M Le Monde, AREA Couture with Precious Lee, and obviously Rhianna for Essence.

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How do you think the beauty industry helps uplift the LBGTQIA+ community?

Makeup is about expression so it helps people feel seen. But I wish that the beauty industry was using more of us in front of the camera. If makeup is for everyone then I want to see EVERYONE in it and feel beautiful in it.

You are the ultimate beauty inspo on social media. Who on Instagram are you following for beauty inspiration?

Honestly, I really try and keep my creative inspiration out of the social media realm. I take inspiration from nature, my close friends, and my physical surroundings. I mean… I am a black woman; I am my own inspiration.

What’s the best makeup tip you’ve learned from working in the queer underground club scene?

You can be anyone you want to be, any character, and people are here for it.

What’s your motto for the summer?

Soul II Soul said it best, ” Back to life, back to reality.”

The Calvin Klein Pride collection is available now. Shop and find out more about their alliances with LGBTQIA+ organizations here.

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