Skip to main content

making faces :: fall in, part 3 [the vamp stamp]

this post is almost a repeat, since i did a post including three favourite vampy lipsticks a while back, but even then, one of them [mac "tribalist"] was no longer available and in the interim tom ford has seen fit to discontinue "black orchid". that's a shame and i suspect that we'll see a mad rush on these on ebay, with buyers demanding ridiculous prices. i'm glad that i still have plenty left on mine.

but for those of you who are still searching for that perfect dark lipstick to set your halloween-loving heart a-flutter, i'm here to help. and by help, i mean recommend places where you can spend your money.

first, a word about what i mean by "vampy". there are lots of dark lipsticks. every company has darker shades. but truly vamp shades, the kind that channel silver screen icons like theda bara [ok, you only ever got to see her in black and white, but the term "vamp" was coined for her, so she's my go-to example], are a particular breed.

they are exceptionally deep, for starters. chanel "fatale" is a great fall red, but it's not a vamp colour. it's too bright.

but as dark as they are, they're not black. black is cold and sharp and modern. to me, there's something antiqued about a true vamp shade. 

by my definition [and it's my blog, so i get to impose these], there is no such thing as a purely cool vampy lipstick. ultra-dark cool purples are also too modern, just like black. a vampy purple will have a hint of red.

to that end, vamp shades are somewhat difficult to define in terms of colour, because they tend to be a mix of dark red, dark brown and dark purple. they may lean towards one, but the best ones contain elements of all three.

so given those points, here are a few of my very favourites that you can buy now and for the foreseeable future.

609, sorry for the finger smudge
armani :: rouge d'armani 609

this was initially released as a limited shade with a small collection called "downtown". the collection was just half a dozen lipstick shades, but i'm assuming that it was successful, despite a ridiculously low profile, because every single one of the shades has migrated into the permanent collection, including this one, which may be the be-all, end-all of vampy lipsticks.

it has the strange distinction of appearing somewhat sheer when swatched, but on lips it's completely opaque. for those who mourn the loss of "black orchid", this is the closest thing you're going to find. it's a bit browner, but they're very, very close. also, i prefer the rouge d'armani formula, which technically means that this one, in my books, is an improvement.

armani at its finest is a wonder to behold. pure class.

611
armani :: rouge d'armani 611

this is a recent release that i've reviewed already, but i can't not include it. you can see how it's redder and more opaque than #609, a little more cabernet to 609's barolo. i've nothing to add to my original review. i hope that this one is being made permanent, because it truly deserves its place in the department store sun. because it's a more opaque shade, i find it's just a little more dramatic than #609, despite being a wee smidgen lighter.

how i love thee.

chanel :: controversy

if you think all glosses are light on pigment, meet controversy. a new [and possibly permanent, i've heard conflicting things] addition to the chanel extrait de gloss line-up, it's a long-wearing, nearly opaque shade that truly meets the definition of vamp. it's not a deep colour done sheer. this is the real deal. yes, this is chanel's "heavy duty" gloss formula, but the fact is that i generally don't find them that close to opaque. but "controversy" is truly an untamed beast.

controversy
dark brown predominates, but there's definitely a healthy dose of purple and just a smidgen of red at work. it's a great colour that doesn't make me look drained, as many dark browns can do.

the greatest thing about this product, though, is the formula. dark glosses are notoriously uneven, which makes them annoying to apply, wear and layer. not "controversy". it goes on smooth, layers evenly and wears extremely well. it fades over a few hours to a stain with remarkable tenacity. so for once, it's a gloss with all the great properties of a lipstick. bravo, chanel. bravo.

[and lest we forget, the last time i did a list like this, i recommended chanel's "ballet russe" rouge coco lipstick. this remains an absolute favourite of mine, a deep plum brown with purple undertones.]

yves st. laurent :: prune avenue

there are a lot of things that yves st. laurent does well, but one thing that they've come to do better than anyone is deep, dramatic lipsticks. they increasingly own the dark end of the colour range like this shade, from their fall collection and possibly an addition to the permanent rouge pur couture range. [again, i've heard conflicting things.]

prune avenue
the purple predominates in this shade, but it has the bloody red-brown undertone that's just autumn perfection. applied, it's smooth and satiny, nearly matte, but not quite. i find it's difficult to overdo the colour, too, because it goes on in lighter layers. it isn't perfectly even on dry lips, but it's still good. maybe make sure that you exfoliate and dab a little balm, or use a lip primer if you believe in them. the formula is neither hydrating nor drying and the lasting time is terrific for something so lightweight.

yves st. laurent have a lot of dark options and, as mentioned above, i think that if you want a quality deep colour, they should be your first stop. [or armani, clearly, although they don't have the number of dark shades available that ysl does.] they all have that easy layering quality, which makes them adjustable to various situations, day and night. other shades to check out would be the deep berry "pourpre carmine" and the icy dark purple "pourpre divin". of course, they also have a fantastic selection of what i'll term the "near darks".

Comments

Bellyhead said…
I'm not a gloss kinda person, but the Chanel Controversy is glorious! That layered over a lipstick would be killer!
You have a really beautiful vamp collection!!
Kate MacDonald said…
Thanks Belly. Believe me, the vamp collection swatches could go on and on... Controversy is a gloss, but it almost leans toward being a liquid lipstick if you layer it. Definitely something to win over the gloss-averse girls like you and me.
Lucinda Veen said…
I agree that YSL does deep shades beautifully. One of my favorite lipsticks ever is Rouge Pur Couture in Belle de Rose, a dark purply-fuchsia berry. It's probably too bright and clear to be truly "vampy" by your standards, and it has no brown at all, but it's a gorgeous fall color.
Kate MacDonald said…
Hi Lucinda! Would you believe that I don't own Belle de Rose? From photos, it does look almost dark enough to meet even my overly-strict definition of a vampy lip.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

long suffering

i've been meaning to write this post for a while, but, every time i get started, something happens that makes me rethink portions of it, to add or subtract or consider a different way of looking at things. the post was originally going to be my take on a #metoo statement, but i ended up making that post on my personal facebook page. [it's not that i don't love you all, but there are a few things i'm not comfortable putting in the entirely public sphere.] but beyond joining the #metoo juggernaut, i wanted to write something about the wave of sexual assault revelations that continues to swell over the north american media landscape that wasn't about me. then i realised that that was a little more complicated than just writing "so, lotta sex rapes happenin' these days, ain't there?" or whatever it was that i was going to say.

so i tried writing something about just a part of it: the media coverage or the entertainment industry or the politicians or …

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…