As artists go, Tamara de Lempicka certainly had a recognisable style. Difficult to classify, her Art Deco paintings with a dash of Cubism stand out with their strong lines and fantastic sense of shadow and light. Models, substantial in their physicality and contours, twist and almost confront the viewer, in canvases that seem to barely restrain them.
This was a thoroughly modern woman, who lived life unabashedly, with plenty of love affairs and ambition. As she herself said, “I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don’t apply to those who live on the fringe”.
The lipstick in de Lempicka paintings has had whole theses devoted to it, its symbolism and visual effect. As Isabella Blow said about red lipstick, “What is the most potent colour? Red. Some people say to me ‘Oh God, when are you going to stop wearing red?’ the thing is, I love red. I like a Whore Red, a 50s red, a Tamara-de-Lempicka-kind-of red.”
I love the combination of red lips, a brown/grey, sometimes blue smokey eye, and maybe a defined line of brown by the eye, together with extreme contouring of the cheeks and jawlines. It isn’t that hard to achieve, but getting the right lipstick is crucial. Below are a selection of bright reds, with more blue, pink, or yellow tones, depending on what suits you best, but all very highly pigmented.
Lipsticks, l-r, Dior Diorific Lipstick in Marilyn, MAC Lipstick in Ruby Woo, Make Cream Lipstick in Maraschino Cherry, and Burberry Beauty Lip Cover in Union Red.
As for the eyes, I would suggest using an adroitly blended mixture of several cream shadows, to strongly yet smokily shadow the crease of the eye, and also define the lash lines. This look is all about the shadows, I would probably leave out mascara all together.
From above: Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadows in Sandy Gold and Galaxy , and Long-wear Gel Eyeliner in Espresso Ink.
As for contouring, I know that this is a subject which probably has most of you throwing your hands up in disgust/despair/boredom. But let me reassure you. I have a tutorial coming up that will completely convert you to the phenomenon of everyday contouring. Seriously.
All paintings by Tamara de Lempicka, from the top: La Dormeuse (1932), Le rêve (Rafaële sur fond vert) (1927), Group of Four Nudes (1925), L’Echarpe Bleu (1930), Le Turban Vert (1930).