In our new 'To Buy For' column, Victoria Woodhall ends her relationship with nude lipsticks and takes up with a sophisticated modern classic
A strange thing happened to me this week and it led me in a roundabout way to a lipstick discovery that I think you should know about, because it has cheered me up no end and will make your day, in fact your whole spring, a little rosier.
I’ve been sleeping badly lately - a combination of hormones, a very vocal cat and wakeful tooth grinding because my bite splint has snapped and is going to cost me the same as four Eurostar tickets to Avignon for our summer camping holiday. My pre-bed BBC news habit hasn't helped either; Tuesday's feature-length KFC chicken ‘crisis’ story (600 restaurants closed! For a bit!) tipped me over the edge.
I stomped off to bed to read, reaching for some escapist reading in the form of DV by Diana Vreeland. The collection of biographical essays by the legendary US Vogue editor was published in 1984, five years before her death and was described by one critic as “one long champagne party” (the book not the death).
On her first day in the job in 1963, DV was said to have swept into the copy room and told everyone to write with quill pens. She was old-old school. She'd previously been Fashion Editor of Harper’s Bazaar - a role she'd won simply by being seen out dancing wearing a white lace Chanel dress with some style. Here, her big idea one day was to ‘eliminate all handbags’ - they were a complete waste of time. Not an obvious call for a magazine reliant on luxury advertising revenue, admittedly. The entire issue was to be devoted to pockets. ‘Look at me, I carry much more than most people,’ she pronounced. ‘I’ve got cigarettes, I’ve got my lipstick, I’ve got my comb, I’ve got my powder, I’ve got my rouge, I’ve got my money… it should all go into pockets.’
I lingered over this minimalist list of makeup essentials and considered my own weighty kit bag. I tipped it out to find that 90 per cent of the contents were lip colours in matte, gloss, oil, bullet and cream form - all in varying shades of nude, because I’d never really found ‘my red lip’ and was constantly playing safe. I didn’t go to sleep; instead, I made a Vreeland-style micro-edit for myself of one blusher , a foundation compact and a lipstick. But which lipstick? What would DV do?
All her life Vreeland had pursued the perfect red, she said. The famous Horst P. Horst photo of her New York apartment leaves this beyond doubt. It is a riot of scarlet – red walls, red swag curtains, cushions, carpets and sofas. Her gown was red and so were her lips - and probably her drawers too.
Knowing that my nudes would have little to tempt her, I figured she would go for my boldest and most sophisticated shade, Charlotte Tilbury’s K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in The Duchess, £24, which I hadn’t yet tried, afraid that it was too strong for me. I do think that DV and CT would have got on, with their 'darlings', their hyperboles and love of drama.
Now, I won’t be parted from this gorgeous shade, this tea-rose-with-attitude. It will lift every skin tone and convert die-hard nudies like me as well as bringing committed red lovers over to the pink side. It’s spring in a bullet, rich, full and pretty. It goes on subtly with a gentle swipe in the morning but layers up to a more punchy date-night deep rose. If you need a bit of extra wattage, you can always blend in a bit of Tilbury Lip Cheat pencil in Walk of Shame or Bond Girl . (If Vreeland had fags, I can have lip pencils.)
The Duchess is of course inspired by the Duchess of Cambridge but has the rock ‘n’ roll edge of Charlotte Tilbury’s other favourite Kate – Moss. The texture is just divine, you’ll want to keep pressing your lips together just to get a feel.
It’s those pink tones that disappear from the face as we get older and this clever little thing, I swear, knocks a couple of years off. If it’s not your normal shade, buy it anyway. It’ll be the only lipstick in your bag (or pocket) from now on.
Want to try it? Buy Charlotte Tilbury's The Duchess here , £24, and let us know what you think.
Follow Victoria on Instagram @victoriawoodhall and Twitter @vwyoga