Every single way to wear this season’s dark lips trend

dark lips fall 2015
Photography by James Cochrane

In the vast colour spectrum of lipstick, red represents a classic brand of bombshell glamour, while the shades just a few notches below it are something far more enigmatic. “Dark lipstick gives off a tough attitude,” says makeup artist Nick Barose. “It’s moodier and less prissy than red or other pretty bold shades.” On the Fall 2015 runways, mouths were painted in varying degrees of darkness. Fittingly, this season, Chanel is releasing a limited edition collection that includes a lipstick inspired by its beloved black-red nail polish, Rouge Noir, to mark its 20th anniversary. “The dark-lip moment is happening because it’s less expected,” says makeup artist Francelle Daly. “It’s easy to go to that classic red place, but these shades are a bolder way of making a statement.”

Berries and plums

As seen at: Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Ermanno Scervino
For dark-lipstick novices, the berry family, from magenta to plum, is the easiest, least intimidating entry point. “They still have a hint of red in them so they feel feminine,” says Barose. The berry par excellence was seen at Carolina Herrera, where lips were a vintage-style semi-matte deep raspberry. “The good thing about these colours is that because they are not bright, they won’t clash, and it can be more about texture,” says Barose. “I like to go slightly sheerer for fairer skin so the darkness is not too strong, and with darker skin, I opt for something more opaque so there’s contrast.” At the plummy end of things, the fall runway had purple expressing its royal roots. “This time around [the shades] are richer and moneyed-looking in appearance and feel,” says M.A.C senior artist Melissa Gibson. At Ermanno Scervino, lips were coated in a nearly matte bruised plum, while at Marc Jacobs, the designer’s distinctly modern interpretation of high-society swans called for a burnt eggplant lip with a velveteen finish. “You can also take the blackened purple or plum shade and use a soft eyeshadow brush to do more of a stain as opposed to a really intense finish,” says Gibson. “There really is a way for everyone to wear it.”


As seen at: 3.1 Phillip Lim, Julien Macdonald, Marchesa
No lipstick colour symbolizes a decade better than brownish-red does the ’90s: There was Drew Barrymore in the opening scenes of Scream, Winona Ryder in Reality Bites and Claire Danes as sulky Angela Chase in My So-Called Life. It was that era that Daly had in mind when dreaming up the creamy brick red at 3.1 Phillip Lim. “The oxblood tone was reminiscent of the Dr. Martens we all used to wear,” she says. “It had a brooding element of punk but was also classical and beautiful.”

Classic beauty was also the call of duty at Marchesa, where hair and makeup referenced ’20s-era, Gatsby-like glamour. Makeup artist Gucci Westman gave models a luminous brick lip, layering lipstick over a brown lip liner. And at Julien Macdonald, brick was tinged with dahlia and finished with a silvery gloss. You can experiment without fully committing to the hue, says Daly. “Ease into it by using your finger to press colour into the lips.” Although your other features should take a back seat, don’t ignore them entirely. “Address the canvas in a simple way, maybe with a tinted moisturizer, a nice brow gel and a highlight of blush,” says Daly. “But leave it about the lip.”


As seen at: Emanuel Ungaro, Giles, Ashley Williams
The most pigmented of the dark-lipstick spectrum is, of course, black. “It’s easy to reference goth or punk rock, but it doesn’t feel that way when you are looking at these shows. There’s something really contemporary about these blacks,” Gibson says of the satiny ink lips at Emanuel Ungaro and the patent-leather pout at Giles. The key to keeping the look out of gloomy territory is applying lipstick precisely and pairing it with a nearly bare face. “The lack of everything else is what really makes these black lips special,” says Gibson. “It’s like wearing the Hope Diamond. You don’t need anything else.”

Apply yourself

Because all eyes will be on your lips, give them extra care. Pre-application, Daly exfoliates lips with a dab of sugar mixed with moisturizer but leaves them bare (no balm). Then, Gibson advises running a soft brush around the mouth with a dab of concealer to obscure any faint lines. For the most precise application, artists agree that you should reach for a brush. “You don’t have as much control if you put lipstick on directly from the tube,” adds Daly. Barose’s M.O.: “Apply it from the centre and swipe outward toward the corners so it will be symmetrical. Follow with a similar shade of pencil, carefully sketching along the edges, or a clear wax pencil to keep colour from feathering.” Though a runway lip often features sharp, angular edges, for the real world, Gibson suggests something softer, especially with darker shades.