Edwina Ings-Chambers: A lipstick star is reborn

This Dior classic has upped its game for a new generation of pouts.

Most often, talk of classic styles being re-invented centres around fashion. But the beauty world can also do a great job of tweaking icons. And Dior has achieved just that with the latest redressing of its Rouge Dior lipstick.

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Sketch by René Gruau for Christian Dior Lipsticks, published in British Vogue, April 1963, ©Sarl René Gruau/renegruau.com

It was first created in 1953, seven years after the brand’s founder Christian Dior had started his own couture house. He was already a bit of a beauty visionary, having launched a perfume, Miss Dior, at the same time as his haute couture maison in 1947. Back then, this was still a relatively new concept, whereas fragrance is now the cash cow for many a fashion brand. But when he brought out Dior Rouge, he didn’t just create a bit of lip colour, he created an event.

Lipstick Obélisque and lipstick for the bag to feature the first Dior lipstick created in 1953. DR/ Collection Christian Dior Parfums, Paris

It launched as a kit featuring an ‘obelisque’ case, inspired by Place de la Concorde in Paris and intended as an object for a dressing table, plus a gold, handbag friendly case, and a set of refills. For, as many readers will know, beauty generally wasn’t as disposable then. You had your compact or your lipstick case and you refilled them time
after time.

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Christian Dior giving actress Jane Russell her Rouge Dior Kit in 1954

Rouge Dior has been changed often over the years. But this latest incarnation sees Peter Philips, creative director of Christian Dior make-up, going back to the archives and returning the lipstick to its roots. While the packaging is not how it was almost 70 years ago – it’s now housed in a dark case with a silver trim that looks like a little belt – it is, once again, fully refillable, a step I find exciting. Of course, some brands such as Hourglass and Charlotte Tilbury already have refillable lipsticks. But for a brand as big as Dior to be offering this service and making this environmental change means other major brands will likely feel the pressure to follow suit. Peter tells me: ‘It’s a small change but the impact is a quarter less plastic use and one third less waste.’

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The revamped design in nude look

Of course, what’s inside the packaging also has to be good. And it is. Better than before, in fact. The lipstick’s formula has been tweaked to be as natural as possible and to include nourishing ingredients such as pomegranate flower extract and shea butter. Shades have been tweaked, too – there are now 75 (though six of those will launch at a later date). There are also new finishes, so as well as satin and matt there is luscious velvet matt and metallic, too.

Among those new shades are the glamorous reds you might expect but also, interestingly, a lot of nudes – for which there is an increasing demand right now. Nude lipsticks are the new foundation of beauty: they need to be numerous in shade options to be properly inclusive. For as Peter points out, ‘We have to educate ourselves that nude is not beige.’ Though there is a most recognisable nude option which, he says, is between a beige and a yellow undertone. It’s called Nude Look, a play on words, of course, on Dior’s famous New Look silhouette.

The Rouge Dior lipsticks cost £32, refills £25.50, dior.com.

Other beauty icons with a new twist

Philosophy Purity Oil-Free One-step Mattifying Facial CleanserPhilosophy Purity Oil-Free One-step Mattifying Facial Cleanser, £20, lookfantastic.com Philosophy’s original Purity is the bestselling cleanser in the US, but customer demand saw it launch this version, specially formulated with bamboo extract to mattify and absorb excess oil.

Jo Loves A Fragrant Paintbrush GelJo Loves A Fragrant Paintbrush Gel, £40, joloves.com This brilliant fragrance invention, which allows you to paint your scent on in gel form rather than spray it, has been updated to a next generation version that uses less packaging and now also has a refillable cartridge.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel CreamKiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, £28, kiehls.co.uk, from 20 January. This skincare classic has also been given a makeover with amino acid to help to reduce excessive oil production.

Mio Liquid Yoga Bath SoakMio Liquid Yoga Bath Soak, £21, mioskincare.co.uk This relaxing soak was given a revamp last year and has only natural fragrance and brand-new packaging.

Baies CandleBaies Candle, £32, diptyqueparis.co.uk It’s a limited edition but one you won’t want to miss. To celebrate its 60th birthday, the brand has given its candle glass jars a graphic motif twist. Très chic.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream LightCharlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Light, £25, spacenk.com This spin on the super moisturising Magic Cream launched last year with added protection from blue light from screens. But the original is still a much-loved classic.


Beauty assistant: Alice Robertson