A Shade of Red

A Shade of Red is a book I’ve been coveting for quite some time. Alyson Fox photographed over 100 women all wearing the same shade of red: Certainly Red by Revlon. They are of all ages, all walks of life, and the book seems to be more about them than the lipstick itself. I look at each photograph, and I wonder to myself, “Who are you? What have you dreamed for your life? Where are you going now?”
Alyson based her book on these two quotes:
“It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived…Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips….That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.”
– Colonel Gonin (commenting on the liberation of the Bergen-Belson concentration camp)
Now, once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of “posing,” I instantaneously make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image.
– Roland Barthes (Camera Lucida, 10)
For surely those of us who wear lipstick wear it for one of these reasons: to be unique, to show confidence (even when it might not be felt), to look glamorous, or to transform ourselves into someone else.
I have searched through, and worn, “hundreds” of red in my life: Guerlain’s Gala, Chanel’s Paris, Chantecaille’s Poppy are a few I like from more luxurious lines; Rimmel’s No. 1, Aveda’s Poppy, and L’Oreal’s British Red from the less expensive. But I can attest to the value of Revlon’s Certainly Red. It has been around since 1951, worn for its lovely blue-red shade, its creamy formula, and its fabulous price. It is my current favorite.

26 thoughts on “A Shade of Red

  1. If want a very blue lipstick, still in the red range, try Revlon's Cherries in The Snow. On me, it goes almost fuschia, but it might be what you're looking for. Also, often Walgreen's or Ulta have buy 1 get one 50% off with Revlon.


  2. Wow — fascinating! I don't wear make up myself but I do love the sociological/cultural stuff about make up — this isn't something I'd usually pick up but after your review I'm going to!


  3. When Lancome was mean enough to stop making my longtime favorite lipstick – Savory Rose (odd name) – I stopped wearing lipstick other than for special occasions. Red? Hmmm. Certainly. Why not? 🙂


  4. It is interesting to think of make up in a sociological/cultural interpretation. What we look like is who we are, or is it? 🙂 This is a wonderful book even for those who don't like or wear lipstick; the photographs capture the women in such an interesting way.


  5. Stupid Lancome…I got mad at them when they introduced the 9,000th latest and best cream even invented. What about the 8,999 I had already purchased?! As for Savory Rose, I don't remember that one. I remember in the early 90's I liked their colors Grappa and Marron.

    Your last sentence? Priceless!


  6. Fun post, Bellezza! I like the idea of lipstick as a means to feel confident. Artist Louise Nevelson used to “enhance” her eyelashes for this same purpose. (I have found the perfect “everyday” lipstick for me. It's not red, but it is Revlon.)


  7. It's amazing o me hat the same shade can look so different on each of the faces wearing it. Which just goes to show that we bring our true selves to everything we touch making I personally our own.


  8. I was a plum girl, too, years ago but now I find it shadows my face rather Han brightening it. Plus, the sticky quality of gloss annoys me. Isn't it fun to have own perspective on beauty products? Hey are so not One Size Fits All. 🙂


  9. I was delighted to see Suko mention Louise Nevelson. If you're ever in New York and have time, you should see her Chapel of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter's Lutheran Church. It's simply splendid. She's been one of my favorites for years.

    You may not be old enough to remember “Tangee” lipstick. It came in one non-color-color, and truly did turn into different shades on different people, just as advertised. It was our first lipstick as young girls.

    I've never worn red – it always seems too stark for me, too “Look at me!” I tend toward the autumn hues, especially a Revlon called “Sandstorm”.

    But it's funny – when I was sailing regularly, I never set out, whether for a day sail or an extended cruise, without applying lipstick.


  10. Linda, I remember my mother's 1969 yellow VW Beetle always had a tube of Revon's Copperglow. I don't even know if they make that particular shade any more, nor do I know if they make Sandstorm, but one thing is true: we who love our lipstick consistently wear it no matter we're going. I love picturing you on your sailboat with your lipstick on. Wish I could be there with you.


  11. I'm more of a bright pink person, but I love the reds (especially Cherry Tart and Candy Apple) in the Colorburst Lip Butter range. I do love seeing how the same lipstick looks on others – the girl on the cover looks very striking with her dark hair and red lips.


  12. I like the lip butters, owning Candy Apple, but they don't so long on me. The girl on the cover is my favorite, too, whom I most resemble(d) in my 30s. Miss those days…:)


  13. Bellezza, where do you find these books? I swear you always have something interesting on your blog and I just love it! Red lipstick is AMAZING and I love that you have found a book that attests to this notion. I loved the pics you included and the stories – this sounds like such a gem of a book. I was telling my mom about it as she is a huge fan of red lippy 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful weekend dear friend!


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