Sunday, May 12, 2019

Q&A with Rachel Felder

Rachel Felder, photo by Millie Felder
Rachel Felder is the author of the new book Red Lipstick: An Ode to a Beauty Icon. Her other books include Insider London and Insider Brooklyn, and her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times and the Financial Times. She lives in New York City.

Q: You write, "My love affair with red lipstick began as a teenager and has grown exponentially over many years of devotion." What first appealed to you about red lipstick, and at what point did you decide to write this book?

A: Red lipstick embodies and delivers so many of the things I aimed to have as a teenager: confidence, sophistication, assertiveness, glamour, and, of course, magnetic beauty. It offers all those things in one, comparatively affordable tube. 

I knew red lipstick resonated with so many people--it's something women have asked me about for so many years--both because I write about it and it's my personal trademark--so I felt it would be a wonderful topic for the book. 

Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?

A: I've written about lipstick--including red lipstick, which I've personally worn literally every day for many, many years--so came in with quite a lot of knowledge, but also interviewed everyone from makeup artists to cultural historians to scientists who have studied the effect it has on both wearers and observers. I also had access to the archivists of many top beauty brands. I wasn't surprised at how deeply red lipstick reflects the zeitgeist of female life over many cultures and era, but it was fascinating to look at that and share it with readers.

Q: What do you think accounts for the popularity of red lipstick over the years?

A: It is glamour, power, allure and edge in a few easy swipes. It's somehow classic and modern at the same time. And, of course, it makes every woman look more beautiful, as long as they find the right shade and finish!

Q: The book includes a variety of photos, posters, and other illustrations. How did you find them all, and what do you think they add to the book?

A: The artwork was indeed an integral part of the process of creating this book. I'm a huge fan of art, and do write about it sometimes, so some of the work that's included I was already familiar with. Some came from the archives of beauty brands--in some cases, the images are published either for the first time ever, or for the first time in a book. Images came from quite a few different sources...the crimson lips on page 152 are actually mine!

The art adds a rich vibrancy to the text--the goal was to offer a book that was gorgeous and also substantial in content.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am working on several journalistic assignments and also traveling to do Red Lipstick talks and book signings.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: There's a red lipstick for everyone! If someone says they're not "a red lipstick person," they simply haven't found the right one! 

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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