Kiss of Death

Mistresses of the night shed light on fashion’s latest beauty trend 

Text by Mengly Taing

Something wicked this way comes in lip colors so dark they’re to die for. It used to be that black lipstick could only be found once a year, but now the elusive hue is coming out of the dark and landing on the beauty counter. The look was more morose than rosy when silent film actresses wore black lipstick to enhance the appearance of their lips on the silver screen. In their respective roles as Lulu in Pandora’s Box and Elena in The Temptress, screen sirens Louise Brooks and Greta Garbo brought on the downfall of every man who dared lay his lips on theirs. The look was inviting, yet sinister, just like that of John Galliano’s perennial cast of femme fatales. And this season, they weren’t alone. Luella Bartley, Giles Deacon, and Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte all looked to horror films, goth-punk and everything macabre for their fall runway looks. Meanwhile, Stefano Pilati looked to the future bringing new meaning to Coco Chanel’s proclamation that “Fashion must die and die quickly, in order that it can begin to live.”

At Yves Saint Laurent, Pilati painted his android models with black lips for a modern minimalist look. Off the runway, the austere appearance can be achieved with YSL’s limited edition Gloss Pur Black. One wash of the transparent gloss turns lips a dark plum. Another will black out lips for a patent leather finish that’s full of shine without the sparkle. Leave sparkle for Lancome’s Piha Black glitter lipgloss, which comes paired with a red matte lipstick. Worn individually they produce two different signature looks, but together, they form a unique layered look as hauntingly thrilling as a brand new pair of Louboutin’s Glittart peep-toe pumps. The red base peeks from behind a shimmery black curtain. The idea of wearing black lipstick can be terrifying, but pulling off the look doesn’t always require the darkest of all colors. A bold lip can still be achieved with dark reds, plums and browns depending on skin tone.

“Complexion color and lip color are related,” says Urban Decay Executive Creative Director and co-founder, Wende Zomnir, who reintroduced lipstick to her line this season. “Deeper skin tones can and should wear bright and/or deeper colors while fair-skinned girls can stick with lighter shades.” Urban Decay’s Apocalypse is a blackberry hue that adds a blackish-purple tint for a subtle dark lip. The shade comes in a shiny, purple metal cartridge pierced with a mini gunmetal dagger at the end. A limited edition cap is also available with a translucent purple case wrapped in an ornate gunmetal outer shell, making it the weapon of choice for many a gothic goddess. However, Urban Decay isn’t the only brand to turn lipstick into a wicked accessory. Givenchy’s Black Plum from its “Rouge Interdit” collection comes in a silver engraved bullet with a black ribbon attached at one end. The lipstick unlocks from a black lacquer case to reveal a deep plum shade, which complements a variety of complexions based on application.

To experiment with a full spectrum of bold colors, try any of MAC’s offerings varying from Film Noir’s deep brown to Underworld’s brownish-burgundy to Hang-Up, a rich berry from their limited edition “Cremesheen” collection. Soft and smooth, Hang-Up provides full coverage with just one application. Experiment with different textures and shades to get the desired effect. To prepare lips, Zomnir suggests exfoliating and applying a lip plumper because dark shades made lips appear smaller. Wipe off excess before applying lipstick. She also suggests keeping eye makeup to a minimum for a more dramatic effect. A bold lip is best worn with a clean, polished face. Avoid heavy eye makeup. Less is more so let the mouth make the statement. When done right, dark lips can be classic and modern, yet daring and decadent all at the same time. It’s sure to be a trend that will be brought back to life time and time again.