“A crimson mouth was an essential component of Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell identity; her pursed, full lips and the soft, sulky voice that emerged from between them oozed sex appeal and a magnetic, ultra-womanly allure. Along with her platinum blond hair, red lipstick was the cosmetic equivalent of the slinky, low-cut dresses and high heels that were her sartorial trademark.
But it was more than that: red lipstick served to enhance many of the characters she played. In roles like Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondesand Cherie in Bus Stop, red lipstick was the ideal accessory to underscore her characters’ femininity and seductiveness.
The application of red onto Monroe’s lips on film sets was methodical and strategic: her makeup artist, Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, used several shades of the color at a time, with a darker iteration near the edges of the lips and lighter versions toward the center to create an intensely accentuated pout. But the actress’s seductive persona wasn’t limited to just her movie roles: even o duty, a staple of her look was a liberal application of her favorite shade, Max Factor’s Ruby Red. Although that brand is no longer available in America, it’s still popular in Europe, where four wearable versions of red were introduced in 2016 as the Marilyn Monroe Lipstick Collection. One of the options is her beloved Ruby Red.”
Marilyn Monroe: The Unknown, a new exhibition featuring the collection of Ted Stampfer, opens at the Historical Museum of the Palatinate (Museum Der Pfalz-Speyer) in Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities and part of the Rhineland-Palatinate region this Sunday, December 16, for a six-month stay. There is an accompanying programme of events and you can also purchase special edition lipstick and wines.
Marilyn has been chosen as the face of the 1950s in a Marie-Claire article about changing beauty trends over the decades.
“Elegant hair updos are making a comeback on the fashion week catwalks, but their history is firmly rooted in 1950s fashion. Few beauty muses are more iconic than Marilyn Monroe, whose hourglass figure was the most desired female shape of the decade. She’s probably also a big reason why the best red lipstick is such a timeless classic beauty look.”
“When I read about why women wear lipstick I see words like: sexuality, rebellion, deception, arousal. I see a dangerous woman in a black and white movie…Was I like those women? Did I have what it took to wear red — or would the red wear me?
Red-lipsticked women are women who make history: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Lucile Ball, Paloma Picasso and Isabella Rosselini to name just a few. Stage actresses began the trend, wearing red lipstick so they could be seen from the back of the theater. In black-and-white movies they wore red lipstick because, in the absence of color, it was the quickest way to convey a deep, dark lip. Lips that meant business.”