Redder is Better

Red never fails in fashion and here’s why
Photo credits: Marskinryyppy
November 23, 2023

Designers know it. Colors have the ability to express our emotions, to paint the canvas of our mood. They whisper the unspoken, stir the soul, and remind us that the world is a masterpiece of all the shades put together. “Colors… speak to the soul in a thousand different ways,” says Oscar Wilde.

… but then there is RED– in all its nuances- which, in fashion, always provokes a sense of majesty or eroticism. It commands attention and exudes a sense of strength and desire… and as far as The Aesthete is concerned, never fails as a lip, nail, or shoe color.

Here to convince you ever more are some proven facts along with some quotes from notable artists, designers and personalities with an acute sense of RED’s stand-alone commanding power:

1. “The colour is so arresting that it seems to burn the memory on to your retina. Only red has such impact. It’s the colour of revolution, of cardinals and jezebels, horror films and high art..” (Alice Newbody and Joy Montgomery)

2. According to the Red Nail Theory, a woman allegedly enjoyed a multi-six-figure income thanks to her dedication to wearing crimson nails. Could it truly be??? THAT WEARING SCARLET NAILS COULD MAKE YOU BOUNTIFULLY RICHER?

3. Christian Louboutin so keenly understood the effect of red that he established an entire luxury shoe brand renowned for its iconic red soles.

4. A study (by researchers Nicolas Guéguen and Céline Jacob of the Université de Bretagne-Sud) found that waitresses who wore red lipstick earned 50% more in tips than those who wore brown, pink, or no lipstick at all.

5. Red goes with everything and red goes with nothing. (Chloe Thurlow)

6. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. (Terry Tempest Williams)

7. Don’t paint the apple; paint the red. (Arthur Lismer)

8. Red is one of the strongest colors, it’s blood, it has a power with the eye. That’s why traffic lights are red I guess, and stop signs as well… In fact, I use red in all of my paintings. (Keith Haring)

9. I love red so much, I almost want to paint everything red. (Alexander Calder)

10. Red-red wine, you make me feel so grand.
I feel a million dollars when you’re just in my hand. (Neil Diamond)

11. I feel a million dollars when you’re just in my hand. (Neil Diamond)

12. The shield of his mighty men is red; his soldiers are clothed in scarlet. (Nahum 2:3)

13. I like the color red because it’s a fire. And I see myself as always being on fire. (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

14. I always liked red. It’s a picker-upper. (Nancy Reagan)

15. If you want a man to notice you, just wear red lipstick. (Monica Bellucci)

16. Lipstick is the red badge of courage. (Man Ray)

17. Red lips like a living, laughing rose. (Adela Florence Nicolson)

18. Any time that I have a bright red (lipstick), I’m like, ‘Here I am. Who’s ready for me?’ Even if no one’s ready. (Issa Rae)

19. I love your lips when they’re wet with wine and red with wicked desire. (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)

20. Our love is like a red, red rose… and I am a little thorny. (Jim Carrey)

21. I’m in love with red. I think it’s such a passionate color. Every flag of every country pretty much has red in it. It’s power, there’s no fence sitting with red. Either you love it or you don’t. I think it’s blood and strength and life. I do love red. (Bryan Batt)

22. I always liked red. It’s a picker-upper. Red, of course, is the color of the interior of our bodies. In a way it’s inside out, red. (Anish Kapoor)

23. Red isn’t all about sweet love. Sometimes it’s anger and blood! Red protects itself. No color is as territorial. It stakes a claim, is on the alert against the spectrum. (Derek Jarman)

24. The red carpet can hide more than just blood stains. (Anthony T. Hincks)

25. Never trust a man in red trousers. (Mika)

26. In red, you feel naked even when you are dressed. (Chloe Thurlow)

27. If I decide to make a coat red in the show, it’s not just red, I think: is it communist red? Is it cherry cordial? Is it ruby red? Or is it apple red? Or the big red balloon red? (Lady Gaga)

28. I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color. (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

29. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. (Proverbs 23:31)

30. The red was something none of them could contain. (E.J. Ko)

31. Doubt is a great worm in a crispy, red apple. (Sally Gardner)

32. Red’s power found its place in Givenchy’s autumn/winter 2017 collection, where, in honor of Riccardo Tisci’s 12-year legacy at the house, the designer’s greatest hits were reimagined in a striking matte scarlet known as “Givenchy Red.”

33. Valentino is a brand intimately tied to this color as its defining signature.

34. For the fashion house Alexander McQueen, red has always been imbued with a deep sense of historical and cultural notions of devilry, paganism, and mischief.

35. For Prabal Gurung, the colour connects him to his homeland. “In Nepal, red is a symbol of purity, dignity and honour,” he says. “It is a colour often worn by married women and tends to evoke a feminine energy. This meaning, juxtaposed against the seductive qualities red has in the Western world, is quite fascinating to me.” He continues, “For me, red is a colour of strength and power. It is for those unafraid to assert themselves, yet it remains modern and feminine. It is the perfect colour to represent what I call ‘femininity with a bite’.”

For a much deeper analysis of this formidable color—and since I couldn’t possibly state it better—here is Charlotte Sinclair’s account of RED’s omnipotence in fashion:

“Like anything with combustible potential, red is to be approached with caution. Naturally, every woman should own a red dress. Its alchemical, job-winning, date-scoring, speech-giving, confidence-boosting, enemy-vanquishing, ass-kicking powers are not to be underestimated. (“When in doubt, wear red,” said Bill Blass.) But unless you happen to be a member of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew or a keynote speaker at the Labour Party conference, wearing top-to-toe red more than, say, once a month is exhausting to even the sturdiest of spirits. Red requires a summoning of self, a projection outwards. (Perhaps even a stern word in the mirror: “If we’re doing this, we’re doing it.”) It asserts and insinuates. It persuades. You cannot retreat in red.

Which is exactly why characters such as fashion maven Diana Vreeland lived for it. And, to be exact, lived in it. Once described as “an ornament covered with about 50 coats of lacquer that talks”, in Horst’s famous photograph of Vreeland in her New York apartment she is pictured reclining, magnificent, with her inimitable “kabuki” painted face (red lips and nails, rouge on her cheeks, forehead and ears), submerged in red, from the scarlet-flowered walls, sofa and cushions to the red carpet, tables, doors, lampstands and picture frames – a decorative style she herself described as “a garden in hell”. According to Vreeland, being bored of red was akin to “becoming tired of the person you love”. Her search for the perfect shade was a lifelong pursuit. “I can never get painters to mix it for me,” she wrote. “It’s exactly as if I’d said, ‘I want rococo with a spot of gothic in it and a bit of Buddhist temple’ – they have no idea what I’m talking about. About the best red is to copy the colour of a child’s cap in any Renaissance portrait.” When Vreeland died, she was wheeled out of the building covered in a white sheet. A neighbour recalled her “tiny white feet – immaculately pedicured, with scarlet toenails.” The red dress lingered in her imagination like a crimson smudge.

A flash of the hue – a single clarinet, rather than the entire horn section – is singularly impactful, as Christian Louboutin knows better than most. (To the extent that the shoemaker’s fierce protection of his trademark red soles has involved him in several high-profile legal disputes.) The story of how Louboutin struck upon the idea has an apocryphal quality. “It’s to a particular shoe called the Pensées, inspired by Warhol’s 1964 series Flowers, that I owe the red sole,” says the designer. “I’d made sketches as normal in colour and, on receiving a prototype in pink crêpe back from the factory, was expecting the usual loss of design which comes between the drawing and final reality, where technical limitations see heels not fine enough or arches not acute enough. I was surprised to see that although the sample couldn’t have come closer to my original drawing in its silhouette, the impact of the shoe was definitely lost. It took me a while to realise it was the block colour of the black sole.” While he was pondering this, his assistant was painting her nails. “I grabbed her red polish and painted the soles. She was not happy, but the addition of colour was a revelation. The original concept completely re-emerged.” After all, he adds, “when you turn around to watch a woman walking away, what do you see? An outline, a gait, and the soles.” No other colour comes close. “It’s a universal signpost for passion, happiness and fortune, a colour of energy and love.”

Red, worn with intent, is still the quickest, surest way to guarantee action and effect, whether that’s standing out in a sea of suits or securing the attentions of a prospective suitor. And this isn’t about the tired cliché of the skintight, tits-out scarlet dress. Even the tomato red of the Supreme branding on the label’s androgynous skater hoodies employs the colour’s ready-made impact to bolster its allure.”

Vogue “red a fashion trend” article

So there you have it.

Next time you are getting ready for an important business event or a night out, next time you are at the nail salon and not sure what color to choose for your manicure, just remember, the redder the better.

(And speaking only of nail color, do also realize that red fits ALL. It is the ONE and ONLY nail color that fits every age, every skin-tone, every occasion, and every look, every time.)

Photo credits: Iris Apfel / Carmen dell’ Orefice / Maison Alaïa shoe


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