“It might sound crazy, but I promise you it’s true – red lipstick can change the course of the night entirely”, says fashion designer Mini Mortimer. Lipstick also changes the course of history. It writes long, passionate, sexy, hot, rebellious, magical scripts. We have known it since Cleopatra. In order to “seduce” Caesar, she mixes wax, red ochre and “something special – small, powdered red beetles, ants and fish scales. She put the mixture on her lips and whispers “The gods are merciful, they always leave a gap through which we can reach each other”. Yes, perhaps lipstick is a gift from the gods, or some other higher power? Queen Elisabeth I believed that crimson lips on a milky-white face have magical powers and could defeat death.
It sounds like an oxymoron – don’t the lipstick formulas contain lethal white lead? The “stylo d’amour” or “love pen”, as courtesan Sarah Bernhard called it, is in women’s grasp to ignite male fantasies, to make them dream about the intimate moments in the boudoir. And the suffragettes? Of course, they also “color” their lips and use lipstick as a weapon in the battle for women’s rights. Maurice Levy also takes advantage of the “female passions”.
The first rotating metal tube appears right after his meeting with the French cosmetics manufacturer Anthony Gouache. During the Great Depression, when housewives were “in charge”, 58% of women had at least one tube of lipstick, bearing in mind that at the same time only 59% owned a jar of mustard.
Not long after Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubenstein and Max Factor launch their multi-million-dollar businesses. Conditions are perfect. After World War I there is an abundance of scrap metal at abysmally low prices, and Vogue will soon announce that lipstick is “the most important cosmetic accessory for women”.
Lipstick even touches Hitler’s icy heart, but not to melt it. He fears female power and is disgusted by “that thing”, which is made of “animal fat from the sewer”. His claims, however, do not reach many people during World War II. In the USA, wearing lipstick is a sign of feminine power and patriotic duty. After all, they have to look beautiful for when the men return from the front.
Chemist Hazel Bishop comes up with the idea to create a durable lipstick, promising it would last for 24 hours. The time for the “Lipstick war” between Helena Rubinstein Waterproof Lipstick and Coty 24 has come. They rely on the clever slogans like “You’ll love yourself from the morning” and “When you don’t want to wake up with faded lips …”. Lipstick can also be the cause of love drama. By the time Connie Francis sang “Lipstick on Your Collar”, the spot on her own boyfriend’s collar was bright red… And she was wearing a baby pink herself!