Let your lips do the talking: after all, this is the age of femininity according to the female gaze. This season, unconventional, subversive pouts dominate the runway, breaking down our archaic expectations of beauty. From the ashes emerges a new brand of confidence that revels in avant-garde unpredictability.
Out are the classic, unassuming reds and pinks. From unconventionally dark chocolate or noir shades to two-tone creations that offset red lips with charcoal lines (and everything in between), something about the various incarnations of this season’s subversive lip is so gutsy that it’s immediately empowering to the wearer.
Chanel spring/summer 2023 showcases a more subdued, classier take on the trend with dark lipstick in unconventional shades of chocolate and copper, a style echoed on Blessing in season four of Netflix’s You.
In a contemporary twist, indie streetwear brands Laruicci, Botter and Fiftymade go all out with audacious pitch-black stains, sometimes featuring glitter gloss swiped over in blue hues.
Make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench brought her otherworldly artistry to both Thom Browne and Junya Watanabe by adding a futuristic undertone. She applied metallic lipstick in cool shades of green and silver in a slapdash manner for the natural lip colour to show through, creating visual depth. “I love using metallics on lips in general. They add edge and depth,” Ffrench tells Vogue.
For Junya, she conceptualised a “punk and disruptive” look influenced by the eccentric and flamboyant New Romantics movement of the ’70s.
On the red carpet, Doja Cat makes this trend her very own. At the 2023 Grammy Awards, she rocked a dark-lined pout topped with a veil of shimmery metallic gloss. Rita Ora also showed off her subversive lip at Paris Fashion Week, sporting a silver sheen atop a slate grey lip to complement her baby blue ensemble.
How to nail subversive lips
Whether it’s created by outlining bright lips with a darker shade, or by topping off a dark lipstick with a significantly more reflective lip gloss, two-toned lips dominated runway glam. A ’90s trend getting a contemporary makeover, this version of the two-tone dark outlined lip is decidedly not as conventionally sexy or feminine as its predecessor. On the contrary it’s off-beat in theory, but comes together to lend the visage an edgy look with killer sartorial energy.
On creating the perfect dark lip, make-up artist Kat Zhang suggests first using a dark lip pencil liner to outline the lips. Fill in the lip with the liner to create a matte base before going in with the lipstick, then pat loose powder over the edge of the lips. Finally, apply one more layer of lipstick to make sure the look is locked in.
Swipe a high-shine glitter gloss on the centre of your lips over your dark lipstick base to recreate this runway trend.
If you’re looking for a more subdued, wearable option, give black lip gloss or lip liner a go. “Black lipstick is a bold and dramatic look often seen on those who enjoy alternative fashion, though the style may be too overpowering for some,” says Zhang. “Try layering black lip gloss over any nude lipstick and you’ll be surprised—it will add some edge to your look.”
Pre-order your copy of the April ‘Pop’ issue of Vogue Singapore online now.