If the phrase “I am woman, hear me roar” were a colour, your dollar would best be placed on red. From street walkers and wiccans to old Hollywood sirens and women in power, no other colour cosmetic has quite the same impact as the red lip when it comes to making a statement and challenging the status quo. “Red lipstick is, in fact, about female strength,” said author Madeleine Marsh in an interview with Public Radio International. “The first and most famous manifestation of red lipstick was in New York, when the suffragettes took to the streets, banded together, and as part of their defiance and fight for the vote, they all wore bright red lipstick.”
The US celebrates its 100th year of women’s right to vote in 2020, while during Trump’s State of the Union address in February, newly elected Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with a majority of women lawmakers from the Democratic party, dressed in a “suffragette white” cape, as a message of solidarity against the Trump administration. Paired with gold hoop earrings and what’s fast becoming her signature red lip, Ocasio-Cortez’s look signalled a spirit of change. A reflection of the current times, the red wave, as seen on Spring/Summer ’19 runways, came as no surprise as the present climate of equality reaches a crescendo, one that has gone beyond the initial cacophony of pink pussyhats post-Harvey Weinstein, and is now finding its voice and taking calculated strides to making real change.
Rodarte carried on in similar vein—rose-red lips on skin as white as snow for a different sort of happily ever after. Make-up artist James Kaliardos was heavily inspired by Pablo Picasso’s portraits; he used vibrant shades of cerulean, mustard, and fuchsia on the eyes, and anchored the abstract approach with a vivid red lip. Consider this a modern retelling of the women who suffered the madness of an artist.