I love lipstick. On those rare occasions when I leave the house without it, people ask if I’m okay because they think I look “a little pale.” That’s a pretty clear message.
And yet… I’m a behind-the-scenes, producer type. While I have the ability to work just about any kind of crowd, do a TV stand-up, or speak off-the-cuff to a giant audience, I still prefer to be backstage, making things happen. For this reason, I regretfully eschew red lipstick.
Some women—like Adriana Trigiani, one of my favorite writers, and “the other Angela,” my hair stylist—wear red exclusively and always look fabulous. It was Adriana’s recent Facebook live, as a matter of fact, that reminded me how much I love red lipstick—on other people. Whenever I try it—which I often do, hoping against hope—I feel as if my lips, like overdone gold jewelry, are walking into the room five minutes before I do.
Perhaps you’re too young to know that lipstick, until the 1960s, was always red. Revlon was responsible for two of the most smashing and popular reds of all time, “Fire and Ice,” “Love That Red,” and “Cherries in the Snow.” Make no mistake: this is the lipstick that Connie Francis sang about. Note in the photo that these shades are still available, more than half a century later.
“Cherries in the Snow,” a cool blue-red, has always been my personal favorite among the Revlon reds, all of which fairly scream glamour. My mother wore “Cherries in the Snow” for years, with the matching nail polish, until dusty rose took over the mainstream adult market in the mid-60s. (We kids, I’m sorry to say, were over-influenced first by the British Invasion, which gave us ghostly Julie Christie lips, and later by the Haight-Ashbury crowd, which gave us nude ones.)
I search incessantly for the perfect lip color. I can easily waste an hour in Ulta, going from deep pinks to peachy-keen to fuchsias, from crayons to glosses to matte, in a perennial frenzy of indecision. But part of me just longs to be that “lady in red” from the 50s, when things, including lipstick, didn’t seem quite so complicated.
Aside: One of my ongoing fantasies is to be The One Who Names The Lipstick, which is kind of like being The One Who Names the Crayola Colors, or the Sherwin-Williams paint swatches. Who are these geniuses, the objects of my eternal admiration? Who first said, “Cherries in the Snow”? This inquiring mind wants to know.