A few seasons ago, Michael Kors—whose runway models are typically dusted with oodles of bronzer—shook up my idea of summer makeup when instead of pairing bronzy skin with a pale lip gloss, his tawny-faced models wore a shockingly bright oraange-red lipstick at his spring 2009 show. As somone who goes through practically an entire bottle of bronzer every summer (my favorite is Giorgio Armani Beauty Fluid Sheer), I was so excited about this new twist on the look (which I never would have thought of on my own). Michael explained backstage that the makeup was inspired by a photo he'd seen of Katherine Hepburn in the '50s—it was taken right as she was coming off the beach, and she had sun-kissed skin and no makeup on except for bright red lipstick. I remember he spoke about how glamourous yet simple that was, and how he loved the energy that red lips brought to the models' faces.
Looking at the June/July cover of Paris Vogue (check it out above), I can't help but wonder if this photo of Kate Moss lounging on the beach in a vaguely '50s swimsuit and geranium lips was inspired by that same photo. The next time I chat with Aaron de Mey, Lancôme's superstar Artistic Director of Makeup and the man responsible for this gorgeous cover makeup, I'll get the scoop! But until then, I thought I'd offer my step-by-step guide for how make your lips look as red hot as Kate's.
THE PERFECT LIP COLOR:Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Lipstick in Red Temptation No. 16, a vibrant orange-y red
Step 1: Conceal. Use your finger to pat an opaque concealer (one that comes in a stick, pot, or pan, such as the Shu Uemura Pro Concealer) all over your lips. Don't put it on too thick—apply just enough to hide your lips' natural rosy color. This is a trick that many of the pros use backstage: By dulling down your lips' natural color first so they're nude, the lip color will look brighter and truer once it's on.
Step 2: Add a base. Fill in your lips with a pencil that closely matches your red lipstick (Yves Saint Laurent Lip Liner in True Red goes nicely with most bright red shades); this gives you an extra layer of pigment to help the color last. Trace the pencil along the inner edge of your lip line, then fill in the rest of your mouth and blot with a tissue.
Step 3: Swipe. You'll get the richest color if you apply your lipstick straight from the tube, so swipe it on, blot, then add another coat. Skip gloss, which can make such a strong color look cheap. Instead, sweep a little translucent power over your mouth with a fluffy brush, which will give the look a polished finish and set the color so it doesn't melt.
PHOTO FROM PARIS VOGUE