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.
Dolce & Gabbana’s signature red lip, winged liner, and rose hair crowns were signatures of the house’s dolce vita glamour, and oozed sensuality and regality. Controversial as they may be, the design duo have consistently sent a procession of women in all shapes, colours, and ages down the runway in a true celebration of the feminine divine. As Monica Bellucci started and closed the Spring/Summer ’19 show, one couldn’t help but to recall her role as the Sicilian beauty in Malèna, in which she walked down the cobbled streets in heels, hair dyed a fiery auburn, lips painted red as blood in a pivotal moment of owning her own narrative among small-town chatter.