A Brief History of Victory Red Lipstick
BEAUTY AS DUTY
The glamour of gorgeous red lips lifts the spirit. Like all expressions of glamour, a classic red lip elevates the morale of the woman wearing the lipstick, as well as all who see her. That’s why we are proud to introduce “Victory Red” to the Bésame collection, for Summer 2016.
The name references the Allied Victory in World War II. We painstakingly researched our red, based upon our collection of historical samples and lots of study. Our “Victory Red” is an absolutely faithful color-match to the original 1941 classic shade.
During the war, the American military forces commissioned the first “Victory Red” lipstick to women in uniform. The clear, strong tone looked vibrant when worn with the standard-issue, olive-drab jacket and skirt. The caps worn by women in the armed forces often featured a brilliant red braid trim detail, and “Victory Red” also accentuated this band.
Women in the US military were not there to look pretty: they were there to serve their country. But it’s interesting to place personal grooming into the context of morale and performance. Just as our fighting men were expected to look sharp and always present a clean-cut and combat-ready appearance, women during wartime accepted beauty as their duty, to show America’s strength and spirit.
“Victory Red” lipstick was literally part of putting on a brave face. Civilian women on the home front also believed that looking their best was a patriotic duty, even when personal luxuries including toiletries were in short supply and often rationed.
“Beauty as Duty” became a confidence-building motto in the UK as well as in the USA, and American brands and British brands – Ivory soap and Yardley, for example—encouraged women to look their best every day as a visible way to cheer the Allies on to Victory. In the USA, various competing manufacturers of lipstick and other cosmetics provided their products at no charge to the women who worked in defense building plants, munitions factories and other industries which supported the war effort.
We never underestimate the power of a good red lipstick.