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The Lipstick Index
Signs of summer. Usually, this would include: Blue skies, cherry blossoms, and barbeques. But in my mind, walking down Rodeo drive, are thoughts of new swimwear, open toe sandals, vivid fun nail polish colors and a new cherry red lip color.
As I entered Barney’s in LA this past week, the woman standing at the YSL makeup counter was the epitome of both the sign of summer and LA. There she stood in a bright cherry red t-shirt, extremely well fitted to all of her curves. She was the perfect LA woman and a sign of summer. Her long blonde hair, her perfect face made-up including that cherry red lipstick that matched the exact Pantone color of her cherry red t-shirt. You could not help but notice her. There was not a single exterior flaw. Her plastic surgeon definitely worked overtime and was a craftsman. Even my boyfriend as he glanced her way, said “ Jesus…”. This woman was a symbol of the perfect Barney’s customer and every man’s fantasy.
In economics, Leonard Lauder introduced the lipstick index in the early 2000s. It was used as an economic indicator as to the fact that women substitute high-end purchases for lipstick in periods of economic downturn.
This woman got me thinking, first do I need a new lipstick and second what is the perfect woman? As women we are judged always on our outside appearance first and then the inside if we are lucky enough.
Contemplating the exterior of this woman and how beautifully crafted she was, I wondered if she was really happy.
Later on in the afternoon, I had the extreme pleasure of visiting the studio of the artist Rachel Lachowicz.Her thought process is along the lines of exactly what I had been contemplating during the day judging of women solely on the outside without giving much thought to the inner workings of us.
Rachel works with beauty products and transforms them in ways that one would not imagine. This piece almost was a reflection of the landscape of the way women are judged solely on the outside. And the thought of other uses and forms of a beauty product such as lipstick.
Rachel went on to fascinate me by telling me about one her earlier works of art, where she dipped bird-cage in lipstick. Her inspiration was flipping through magazines where almost every wedding or bridal ad she viewed, there was always a small cage somewhere small in the corner of the page. She explained she thought “ is this woman being coveted? Does it mean because we are women and wear lipstick should we expect to be coveted and kept?”
This thought of course led me back to the woman in cherry at Barney’s. How coveted and kept was she?
As I got ready to go out to dinner that night, I turned to my boyfriend and asked him, should I wear a red lip? His reply “ you look so much better without that.” A true gentleman and one to covet.