Why Women Always Return to Red Lipstick


Backstage at Mary Katrantzou SS 2017. Photo by Luca Tombolini / Indigital.tv
Backstage at Mary Katrantzou SS 2017. Photo by Luca Tombolini / Indigital.tv

Bold lips are back in the spotlight. An abundance of Fall runways showed shades that will take a certain kind of chutzpah to rock outdoors; Christian Dior painted their models with almost-black violet lips, Marc Jacobs went a full shade of black, and Marni and Rodarte debuted a gloriously deep purple.

Every designer at the moment seems intent to give women the boldest, most attention-grabbing lips they can, in wild and unexpected colours. They seem to have momentarily forgotten that, as a group, women have long declared red the bold-and-beautiful go-to for centuries. Scarlett, crimson, coral, burgundy, ruby…. Call it what you want, but never forget that red is the primordial bold lip colour and will be for another few centuries to come. Why? It’s simple: no other piece of feminine iconography (not the LBD, not a Chanel quilted purse, not even the red sole of a pair of Louboutins) can make a woman feel as sexy, beautiful and, yes, powerful as a swipe of red lipstick.

Women in the public eye have always displayed their dominance on their lips; Cleopatra crushed bugs to achieve the perfect shade of red, Queen Elizabeth I elevated the colour to royal heights, while Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor used theirs to create unforgettable femme fatale personas. Think even, of a few of our favourite on-screen characters: Scarlett O’Hara, Sally Bowles, Morticia Addams, Mia Wallace, Jessica Rabbit, and Maleficent. Their unshakable authority was never shown without the perfect red pout.

But it’s not the colour in itself that exudes power. It’s the confidence it takes for a woman to call such attention to herself. The sheer act of applying a red lip signifies to onlookers that you’re ready for the world to look right at you and hear everything those lips have to say. This, really, is why red lipstick is iconic. It’s why no matter what shade might be the shade of the season, women will inevitably go right back to red.

It’s with that consistent colour faith in mind that brands are dedicating entire collections to the steadfast shade. Shiseido’s Rouge Rouge lipstick collection features 16 shades of the hue, and Chanel’s latest global creative makeup and colour designer, Lucia Pica, dedicated her entire first collection for the brand to the shade with “Collection N°1 Le Rouge.”

So let it be known that a woman who dares to wear a striking shade of red on her lips will have everyone stopping in their tracks and taking notice. And if you’re so inclined, find your perfect rouge and embrace the power.


Seeing Red

Try one of these beguiling new hues


Chanel Rouge Vie; Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips lipstick in Karina; Urban Decay Vice lipstick in Disturbed.