A choice weapon of every femme fatale, the red lipstick is a timeless accessory. Rebellious, chic, sexy and deceptive, the red lipstick is definitely not for the faint hearted. The scarlet artifact has been known to break hearts and win arguments, and why shouldn’t it? Queens and empresses have worn it, actresses and starlets have worn it, business women and politicians have worn it - everywhere, the colour red denotes power, control and unrepressed sexuality.
It’s said that ancient Mesopotamian women were the first to invent actual lipstick by using crushed precious jewels. The lipstick used by Cleopatra, who demanded a deeper red, was made of crushed carmine beetles and ants. And apparently, Queen Elizabeth I used a recipe of beeswax and plant derived red dyes to get that perfect vintage red pout. However, she preferred darker shades of red, that almost looked black, which were quite fashionable in her time.
Over the decades, we’ve seen the crimson palette change shades to best fit a generation’s signature style. From the blackish reds of the 30s and 40s (the era of silent, black and white cinema) to the wine reds in the 60s and 70s to the darker, more goth burgandies in the 80s, to the garish purples of the 90s and finally the classic red in the new millennium, the red lipstick has travelled full circle.