Dior Pisanelle Pink. However, the perfect red (or even a half-decent red that doesn't make me look like a clown, a hooker or Cruella de Ville) continued to elude me. Back in September, Katie Puckrik, a bit of a make up guru on the quiet, took up the discarded gauntlet / cudgels? on my behalf, and on the occasion of one of our whistlestop meetings at a cafe near Euston, her first act was to upend her handbag and spill a good dozen red lipsticks and lip glosses onto the table. (I wish I had taken a photograph of that!)
As a direct outcome of that testing session (on skin and on Katie in what I can best describe as the lipstick equivalent of a series of lightning costume changes), I went home and bought Revlon Sizzle Lip Gloss and Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple. Despite their being on Katie's shortlist of possible contenders for me, I couldn't quite believe in them myself. For I have a real mental block about red lipstick suiting me, partly based on my sallow colouring, but also to do with the relative thinness of my lips compared to Katie's pillowy pout. Somewhere I have taken on board the notion that red lipstick can be unflattering on mature skin. Sharon Stone gives the lie to that supposed "rule" here, but then I am not Sharon Stone, just her age.
KATIE, LOOKING EFFORTLESSLY GLAMOROUS IN A BEANIE
And then at the end of November, I was down in London again, and Katie kindly took me on a make up sampling spree in Selfridges before we headed off for dinner and the evening's (partly unscheduled) entertainment, of which more in Part 2. Sniffing wasn't so much on the agenda, as we had done a bit of that at Les Senteurs where we met up, but we did swing by the Dior display specifically so I could try Grand Bal. I am currently on a jasmine hunt for my Scandal- and Fracas-loving friend Sharon. She is a born-again tuberose lover, who is looking to branch out into other heady white soliflores, of which jasmine seemed as good an example as any. Anyway, I thought Grand Bal very pretty, like a quieter version of By Kilian Love & Tears, maybe. It was of necessity just a fleeting impression, because the sales assistant had no samples to give away. This surprised me, as Dior had always been pretty good bet for doling out those little 4ml pots in the past - hey, between me and Tara, who assiduously scored them on my behalf every time she was up the West End, I must have at least four of New Look alone!
No, the main objective of our dive into Selfridges was to slay this red lippie lemming of mine once and for all, and after a quick scope of every high end beauty counter from Yves St Laurent and Tom Ford to Benefit and Illamasqua, we narrowed the choices to Laura Mercier Crimson Tint and an Armani Sheer Red lipstick, the name of which escapes me. I plumped for the Laura Mercier in the end a) because Katie swore black, blue, white and red that it suited me, b) because it was cheaper than the Armani - I never actually got as far as inquiring, but you just know that it had to be! - and c) because my natural dark pink lip tone kept dragging the Armani red back to pinky-neutral YLBB territory. This was as unhelpful as looking foolishly scarlet, especially at that price, whatever it may have been.
ME WEARING LAURA MERCIER CRIMSON TINT, WHICH LOOKS STRANGELY HOT PINK IN THIS PHOTO
Some weeks have passed, and it is dawning on me that if I can carry off the Laura Mercier, I must have suited the other lipsticks all along, which are in similar vein really. The Revlon Sizzle is perhaps a slightly warmer, more orange-y red, while the Candy Apple is in the same sheer mid-red territory as the Laura Mercier. Crucially not too blue on my olive skin. So the upshot of all of this is that I have been wearing overtly red lipstick in public on a number of occasions since my outing with Katie. Nobody has screamed and recoiled in horror, not a single small child has pointed at me and sniggered, and no one has refused to serve me in a shop. This Christmas I may finally have overcome my irrational hang up about red lippie after all, just in time to accessorise the holly.
ME WEARING REVLON SIZZLE LIP GLOSS, WHICH LOOKS NEAR AS DAMMIT THE SAME STRANGE HOT PINK AS ABOVE, BUT REALLY ISN'T
NB Bonus points to anyone who spots Bloody Frida's pennants in the background!
Coming up in Part 2: The press night of The Card Shark Show, and an entertaining detour en route.
Photo of Dior perfume counter from speirsandmajor.com, other photos my own