Violette Serrat knows good red lipstick. She’s French, it’s practically her birthright. So, naturally it’s the first thing I pin her down about when I hop across the Channel to meet her in Paris. The renowned make-up artist and brand founder recently succeeded Olivier Echaudemaison as Guerlain’s creative director of make-up, and has hit the ground running.
Enter the new Guerlain Rouge G Collection, Violette’s first collaboration with the iconic House. It’s a refillable range – choose your case separately, there’s even an option to get it engraved – made up of a spectrum of three statement reds, all reinterpreted into two long-wearing finishes, matte and satin.
‘Red isn’t just a colour,’ says Violette, ‘it’s more than that, it’s seduction in its purest form.’ ‘Wearing a bright red lip is like beckoning a forbidden kiss,’ she continues, ‘because a mouth with lipstick can’t be kissed. Red impresses, attracts and distances all at the same time.’ Violette’s passion for her subject matter is palpable, especially when you get down to the nitty gritty and the intricacies of application.
I meet Violette in her newest Parisian base, a light, airy studio that she has helped design for herself within the walls of Guerlain’s offices, a marble-laden building where the House’s motif – a gold bee – is prevalent everywhere, from the lift fixtures to the door handles. Violette refers to her studio as her ‘creative bubble’, and it’s no wonder. Inspiration lines the walls – a jar of iridescent blue powder here, a framed butterfly there, and pots of glossy-handled make-up brushes where most would store pens.
When Violette starts talking beauty tips, I barely look up from my notepad. Everything she says is stick-on-your-fridge-worthy, but one tip stands out in particular. ‘Red lipstick makes your lips look small,’ she says matter-of-factly, ‘so you have to over-line.’ She demonstrates on me, going straight in with the lipstick, Guerlain’s matte Rouge G Luxurious Velvet Lipstick in Rouge du Tigre, £27, £59 with the case, no lip liner required. ‘Use the shape of the end of your lipstick bullet to create the “V” of your Cupid’s bow, then stray slightly outside of your natural lip line when applying to the side of each lip.’ Next? ‘Once you’ve got your shape, fill in and apply an extra layer or two with a brush to add some lustre to the centre of your lip.’ But get ready for the real game-changer, because we’re not done yet.
you want it to look like you’ve just been kissed, that’s the real French way
‘The key to keeping your red lip modern, and making your lips look even fuller,’ says Violette, ‘is blurring the edges of it slightly.’ What, no precision perfect edging? ‘You don’t want it to look too perfect,’ Violette is adamant, ‘you want it to look like you’ve just been kissed, that’s the real French way,’ she smiles.
So I try it. I smudge the outside edges of my pristine red lip with a dry lip brush, very gently, making them look slightly diffused. And I’m a convert. My red lip has gone from wannabe 90s to effortlessly modern in an instant, and my lips look much fuller too. Every day’s a school day.