Red — Rojo — Carmesí — Crimson — Colorado
This blog is about the colour red and in particular about red lips. It will meander. Right off the bat when I posted it, Canadian Poet George Bowering wrote “tinto”. Of course he is right. In Spanish it means red wine.
In March I am taking my wife and granddaughter Lauren, 14, to Buenos Aires. I firmly believe that Lauren’s ability to read music (she is studying the violin and the clarinet) plus she dances at Arts Umbrella (all by her choice and not by parental pressure) puts her at an advantage in our increasingly strange times.
To me just being able to read music opens some spot in her brain that makes her think differently and with a better scope on reality.
Unfortunately she did not do well in French at school so she speaks only one language. But now she suddenly has an interest in her grandfather’s Spanish and is busy with Rosetta Stone on the computer.
How the above will somehow lead into this blog about red lips might tempt those who are reading at this point to trust me that it just might be worthwhile.
If Lauren were here in my oficina now I would tell her that in English you have the colour red and if you are ever so sophisticated you might know of the word carmine, or the French Rouge. I do recall that favourite film of mine, The Crimson Pirate and that some of my red roses are described as being crimson. In Spanish we have the same words for those colours. There is rojo and there is colorado. My Argentine compatriots consider rojo to be low class and only use colorado! And there is carmesí (crimson) and carmín.
Just citing poetry would give you a many more chances of rhyming in Spanish or in English if you were thinking of the colour red.
My mother liked to use bright red lipstick. I recall that her choice was Revlon. My preference for and delight of bright red lips has to come from that.
I noticed red lips (which confirmed my choice) on the cover of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Jazz Red Hot and Cool in the early 60s. The cover is a beautiful photograph taken by Richard Avedon. Somehow I was told by someone that the model on the cover was wearing a lipstick called Jazz Red Hot & Cool. I have confirmed that in my Wikipedia:
The cover photograph used for this record was taken by Richard Avedon at hungry i nightclub in San Francisco and was done in partnership with the Helena Rubinstein cosmetics company. It took its title from a new shade of lipstick Rubinstein introduced in the late 1954. According to the liner notes by Brubeck’s long time producer George Avakian, while the cosmetics company launched an advertising campaign in major fashion magazines in different full-page advertisements, the ladies who bought the lipstick also got a copy of Jazz Combo Tool; a small Columbia six inch, red-orange vinyl record in 78 rpm speed which included excerpts from Eddie Condon and Turk Murphy on its Jazz Combo Hot side, and Pete Rugolo and Brubeck on its Jazz Combo Cool side.
Ever since that cover I have looked out for women who use red lipstick. Alas the one woman who had the reddest and juiciest lips I ever saw, Madeleine Morris I photographed mostly in black and white except for a few of which you can see here.!
Red lips are hardly ever subtle but I eschew those photographs of tacky boudoir where the photographer has lipstick and nails to match, perhaps with added red pumps. Red cannot shock (as it should) if it is so evident. Look at the pictures here and decide.
There are two photographs of Lauren in which her older sister Rebecca did the makeup. I love the one of her as a Chinese girl. My ancestors in the Philippines were related to the Chinese Filipino Roxas. Lauren might have a tad of Chinese blood in her. In the picture she is wearing one of my mother’s Chinese coats.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.