The Red Lip, Explained…


Being stylized is about making a personal statement. As a woman solidly planted in a world of female empowerment and gender equity, I choose to view my choice to be stylized, to appear as I do most of the time, as a definition of self and a power statement.

Dita Von Teese, a like-minded soul, talked recently to Into the Gloss about her so-called “drag” – the uniform of beauty, make-up and fashion that she has famously claimed ownership of for many years now. There has always been chatter about women dressing for others, for men, for women, but in my case and the case of Miss Von Teese it seems, some women dress and put themselves together wholly for themselves. Red lipstick is bold and has a difficult and precise quality. It demands attention- yes- but mostly from the wearer itself. Keeping a red lip from migrating unprettily is science, chemistry and engineering on your face.  The art of self as artifice is an ancient one that has roots from long before make up was widely commercialized.  Another day I’ll write about Cleopatra and evidence of her profound knowledge of cosmetics and self-care.  This Queen of Egypt allegedly researched and wrote about the battery of potions and lotions that lent to her well-known beauty. Cleopatra:The Exhibition currently on at the California Science center is an awesome catalogue of all things Cleopatra.  You really should see it if you are able, but I digress…

When it comes to TGFRL, it seems only fair to start with my literal commitment to red lipstick. Enter Tom Ford. Tom Ford is a man who knows about the face of a powerful woman. He is a friend to the  “take a step closer at your own risk” woman. He understands that beauty is very much about artifice and that what it means to you and the world around you is larger than an industry of peddling face paint and luxurious fabrics implies.  Tom Ford is a visual poet. His art has richness, structure and meaning.  His education at Parson’s in interior architecture is evident in his command of lines and his command of how shapes appear in space. I adore Tom Ford.

Ever since the release of Tom Ford’s color cosmetics collection last year Wild Ginger lipstick has been my go to lip-wear. It’s a boldly pigmented, gingery orange red that pops against the whole range of colors my face can be during the year.  It is always the first thing people notice when I’m wearing it AND without fail they say that is gorgeous, ask what brand it is it and where they can get it. Well you and $48.00 dollar can have this or any one of the other striking shades. The formula is moisturizing, buildable but just one swipe is perfect.


Other reds on my hot list? Hourglass Extreme Sheen in Siren. This is not day-to-day red.  It’s shiny with a golden hue. It wears perfectly alone or over a Tom Ford Wild Ginger base…I like to add a dash to the top and bottom center of my lip for a hypnotic gloss. This is super hero/event/ James Bond red.  Of course coming from me that is a bit unclear because I must admit that this red lip has made appearances on weeknight Umami burger runs and maybe a 4-year-old princess party or two. But in my world I treat 90% of everything as a capital “E” Event. You make the call for your Siren lip. I can say for certain that Siren has never made it to the yoga studio or the gym – two places I go frequently. But this is wholly a courtesy to fellow yoginis and gym companions – something about super hero lips is distracting to other people’s flow and I’m stylish but considerate.

Siren by Hourglass
Siren by Hourglass

The last in my red triad is not the expected and ubiquitous Ruby Woo from Mac (But woot woot for the easily wearable color) however my answer to vintage matte perfection is Nars velvet matte lip pencil in Cruella. As girls born before ?? know, Cruella de Vil is pretty much the most badass of “look at me” cosmetic users of all time. I am even planning my future greying hair scheme around her classic look.  Cruella is dark, stays put, feels sort of glorious which is odd for a matte but not the for the genius that is Francois Nars.


Did you know that before ladies tossed their bras and started an era of nude and white lipstick, early suffragettes wore red lipstick as a sign of freedom and solidarity?

Red lipstick. Try it, you’ll like it.


4 thoughts on “The Red Lip, Explained…

  1. Love all this! I would also like to personally endorse Dior’s Diorific lipstick in Marylin. Fab, creamy texture and it brightens my day every time – and it’s great for those of us with fair skin!

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