We’re all familiar with today’s notion of “luxury lipstick”: I, for one, am so desensitized that a $24 NARS price tag strikes me as a steal. Enter Tom Ford, who practically bleeds couture. The high-end tastemaker was not the first to introduce the concept to the public, but at $48, his coveted gold-and-white metal tubes are at the lower end of the price spectrum when it comes to designer lipsticks. Of course, Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, and the aforementioned NARS are all considered premium lipsticks and generally retail in the neighborhood of $30. Costly enough, no?
Get a load of this, then: Clé de Peau Beauté, a glamorous Japanese line, offers their Extra Rich Lipstick for $60. And you may be familiar with the skincare line La Prairie, whose myriad anti-aging products feature the most opulent of ingredients and cost upward of $100+ individually. The brand now offers their very own Cellular Lip Color, which includes a caviar extract made from farm-raised roe, and will set you back a cool $55.
Gisela Ballard, the executive director of marketing for the Clé de Peau Beauté collection, justified the price tag to The New York Times with a number of points: the ingredients (retinol for smoothing lines), the color pigmentation, the … shape of the lipstick? Sure, okay.
But it’s Tom Ford’s justification on the steep price that resonates the most with me: he wanted “really rich, saturated color,” and continued “[the lipstick] was inspired by a kind of ’70s-meets-’20s, hedonistic mood.” This! This is why I purchase a designer lipstick. It echoes a vibe, a lifestyle, a concept. I can’t be alone when I say that I indulge in these types of extravagances because I feel inexplicably like they are going to change my life. In the case of Tom Ford, his lipsticks and his advertisements suggest that my path will be redirected to dimly lit speakeasies where I will wear shimmery shift dresses, smoke thin cigarettes in long ivory holders, and lounge on red velvet couches.
Karen Grant, senior global beauty industry analyst, confirmed for the Times that “there’s a psychological element to the process.” I, for one, buy into it every single time. The image designers project in their cosmetics is just as compelling as the aspirations of their clothing — if not even more so because, unlike a $10,000 dress marched down the runway, a $50 lipstick may actually be something you can get your hands on without filing for bankruptcy.
Image created by Rachel Krause