Sponsored: She might be inspired by a striking roster of beauty icons, but artist and Nisnass ambassador Rhea Jacobs has built up her very own distinct look.
Rhea Jacobs is everywhere, the default position of someone whose gaze is at the core of her magnetic field. You’d be hard-pressed not to see her doe-eyed, cherubic face fronting a brand campaign, glossed up in magazine editorial or in her personally curated content.
But 24-year-old Jacobs, originally from India but raised in Dubai, who is an artist, makeup maverick and content creator, isn’t propelled by a tired PR machine that pummels her in every which direction with skewed pursuits.
She aligns her own stars. She set out what she wanted to do, keeping true to who she is, and then the brands (most notably Nisnass and Marc Jacobs Beauty, for whom she is a brand ambassador) came running.
Such is the phenomenon of today’s influencers, who are their own image-makers, setting the scene and paving their own path, however they see fit, undeterred and brought down by a one-size-fits-all restriction.
But, there’s strategy involved in enjoying the freedom of self-engendered and lasting success. That strategy, for Jacobs, was simple.
“The idea has always been to create a statement but also maintain my identity as an artist as well as an individual.” The statement she refers to is her aesthetic – you cannot possibly refer to Jacobs’ appearance as a ‘look’, as it doesn’t do the completeness justice. Both in real life and iPhone resolution, she is cover-ready, poised, and holds herself slightly aloof, but not unaware, from others.
She breaks out in little giggles as she presents her personal pitch and what she’s all about, in a dulcet tone, as if she herself can’t believe that her influence is as enduring as it is.
She typically sports an uncomplicated, no-nonsense knot, whether on or off duty, but her approach to her aesthetic is akin to an artist’s creative process, as captioned in one of her recent Instagram posts: “art is where work meets love”.
“It’s the same way I approach an oil painting. The only focus is colour and expression. I don’t dive in thinking, ‘OK this is exactly what I want to do’. Makeup is like art. It’s always different with each look and person. My process begins with a base and the rest is just creativity”, she says, adding “just” as if it were an effortless flick of an eye-liner, which for her that is probably the case but for the rest of us, requires a deft and dexterous wrist.
“Each look that I’ve put together takes around 20 to 45 minutes. Of course for finer strokes it can take longer and if there’s music in the background, that takes a whole lot longer!”
The result can be pored over for hours. You’re not satisfied with a side-eye flash, it’s a proper, gallery level of observation that takes hold, where an intricate story is told, “an equal balance of fashion, art and beauty”, wherein the likes of Cher and Audrey Hepburn lend their influence to her own, without losing her sense of self because “the industry is saturated but individuality, you’ll always be set apart no matter what”.
You can see traces of the aforementioned (you can even find her tribute looks to them on Instagram) but there’s still something distinctly hers – something which you may not be able to pin point, but perhaps that’s the point. That elusive quality is what pulls you in and keeps you there.
The influencer of today is rarely just about how stylised or thoughtfully filtered their photographs are; they need to actually speak to something that means as much to them as it will to their high-scoring following. Jacobs is moving with the times and is fast-becoming a pillar for her generation’s e-brands.
With the advent of Nisnass, the millennial equivalent to the UAE’s online luxury portal, Ounass, she is on the front lines of this celebration of “Gen-Z’s varied and unique stories. It’s about time we had an online destination catering to our individual style needs.”
With e-commerce sites creating a voice of their own and becoming an authority in fashion, in much the same way as a magazine does, Jacobs applauds the “one step further” approach to allowing shoppers to be inspired and go on a style journey.
“As creatives, we are aware of trends and what’s in and what’s not, but the way these sites present their aesthetic sheds light on something you might not have visualised before so it helps to refresh your imagination. Editorials are not only for magazines – we need them in our e-commerce sites too.”
And as Jacobs ticks off a calendar of projects, she’s so much more than just famous for being famous – an eye-rolling reality that comes with the accessibility of social media.
She’s far smarter than the floaty notion that by simply being you, you can inspire others to creative zeniths. She’s left her indelible mark and aim of putting a “dent in the fashion and beauty industry” through an authentic process of self-exploration and genuine talent.
“I want to work until I no longer have to introduce myself – that’s my goal to achieve for the coming years.”
Images: Courtesy of Rhea Jacobs