Interview for Urbanlook.
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Black Lips inspired by designer
Some tribes, including the Maori of New Zealand, paint and tattoo their lips black. In Hindu tradition, both men and women would color their lips and teeth with betel, resulting in a dark green color. There are many reasons for this type of adornment, from ceremonial commemoration (e.g. the black paint represents the blood of one's enemies) to tribal identification.
In Renaissance England, Queen Elizabeth I popularized a proto-goth look of translucent white skin with dark, though not black, lips.
Fast forward (yet again) to the 1920s. Color film existed, but was prohibitively expensive to use it in films, especially full length features. Many film actresses, like Clara Bow, wore black lipstick on set, to accentuate the curve of their lips. This lead to the popularity of very dark red lips. Many women, however, opted for a more natural look, as advertised by Tangee and other companies.
In the 1950s, B- to Z-Grade horror movies occasionally used dark lipstick on temptresses. Vampira, a 1950s television horror host, usually wore a mid-tone lipstick with dramatic eye makeup and highly exaggerated eyebrows. At this time, of course, black greasepaint existed, but its usage on lips was not mainstream.
It was only in the late 1970s and 1980s that punk, goth and new wave adolescents started inventing new, bold cosmetic looks. Singers like Siouxsie Sioux, Peter Murphy and Robert Smith started experimenting with a new, darker look, influenced by punk rock, teddy boys, and romantic poetry. This look would go on to become "gothic" as we know it today.
Black lipstick was one component of this look, though it's not so ubiquitous as we think. Robert Smith most certainly wore it at some point, but most photos of him show him wearing black eyeshadow with red, or dark pink, lips. For most early goths, the eyes were the focal point of attention, resulting in dramatic and overdone eye makeup combined with relatively understated lipstick.
As the 80s turned to the 90s, the goth subculture drifted further away from its punk origins, resulting in acts like Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, and the birth of industrial music. The focus of attention turned from the eyes to the lips; as performers like Kathleen Hanna and Courtney Love red lipstick over their faces, goths caked their faces in white and their lips in black. Even "modern primitives" borrowed from this movement, with young women with dreads and tribal tattoos wearing espresso or chocolate-covered lipstick to go with their earth-toned wardrobes.