Collage: Red Energy

Red is pure, vital energy – the hue of the longest wavelength of light and the highest arc of the rainbow. It’s intensity (and complexity) can be iconoclastic for the self-possessed Nomad—and is universal for power.

The vibrating sense of red animates the inanimate like blood. It is life-force that nourishes our most essential needs for survival. The primary color is associated with the Muladhara or root chakra, the first energy center located at the base of the spine. It is the seat of Kundalini – potential, security and belonging, whether to our tribe or the world at large.

The dominant hue is favored amongst visual artists, where the emotional self is a fertile source of individuality and creativity. The enigmatic performance artist Marina Abramovic’s penetrating gaze enveloped by Brigitte Bardot’s sexy grin captivates viewers in a postmodern connection. For Louise Bourgeois, making art was a form of psychoanalysis, an aid towards survival, self-protection, and “a guarantee of sanity.” Her work placed the Sisyphean figure in red, translating feelings of passion and violence into the fiery color. (See “Tree With a Red Crutch,” and “Red Night” ) “Everywhere in the modern world there is neglect, the need to be recognized, which is not satisfied. Art is a way of recognizing oneself, which is why it will always be modern,” said Bourgeois.

From the vortex of a crimson starburst, half parachute, half kaleidoscope, the color red incites a tumultuous range of associations with a telling cinematic history. The Red Shoes is a masterpiece of compositions in emotional realism, shifting between reality and fantasy. A hypnotic story within a story based on Han Christian Anderson’s grim fairy tale, a prima ballerina is torn between the need to dance and romantic love- interchangeable desires. This conflict renders the ginger-haired beauty powerless in the climatic netherworld; her fragility is symbolized by the sinister fate of the red satin ballet slippers.

The stylized art-house film Raise the Red Lantern, starring Gong Li, is a feast of sensuous beauty. Beneath the saturated vermillion reds of 1920’s China, the melodrama unravels with Songlian’s self-reflective monologue and disquiet fade into madness. In the final scene, glowing incandescent red lanterns surround her as she wanders aimlessly- a captive within enclosed corridors.

In Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Red, the final sequence of a captivating trilogy on love and loss, red means fraternity, one of the French revolutionary ideals. Visceral punches of red are imbued into each candid frame to punctuate the unfolding emotional complexities and layers of two strangers forming a kinship despite differences in philosophy and life experiences.

The timeless lineage of the red in cosmetics – crushed rubies and cochineal extract for ancient women, a crimson coat of arms for modern monarchy, and the geisha’s bee-stung lips – continues today on the red carpet and in beauty trends on the runway. This assertive hue keeps you on your toes. Don illusionist eyes in the style of Marilyn Minter’s provocative glamour with molten-red shadow and confetti-sized glitter.

Words surging forth from spellbinding scarlet lips never go unnoticed, especially with lacquered textures on the runway. Sweep your pout bright with Russian Red for Paulina Olowska’s “Applied Fantastic,” where Eastern European beauties wear woven textural montages of Western pop art meets haute couture meets vintage knits. Feather the edges of your oxblood-stain lips for Tracy Emin’s disheveled look of long, controversial nights. Or wrap your lips up in Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #137 with a blurry red shade.  

A minimal face punctuated by wine lips is a simple statement that mesmerizes with bold intensity. Anne Truitt, pioneer of minimalist art, devoted her life to (in her words)“ get maximum meaning in the simplest possible form.” A little goes a long way with red.

Ignore trends and go for the classic red of the New American Look masterminded by Diana Vreeland and Louise Dahl-Wolfe. A matte carmine shade is a catalyst that transforms dull moments with a “twist of fate that change lives forever,” like Lauren Bacall leaning against an American Red Cross window- impacting the course of film history. Match sultry red lips with this season’s Valentino-inspired red nails, nodding to Charles Revson’s classic.

For lasting effect, spritz on Rei Kawabuko’s take-no-prisoners crimson elixir in red-inspired scents of Comme des Garcon: Series 2 with red flowers, red fruits, red spices and red woods. Choose from citrus-spice Harissa with blood orange and cardamom, floral-oriental Carnation with smoky peppers and spicy cloves, earthy Sequoia of California redwood and Chinese agarwood, fruity floral Rose with a peppercorn kick, or woodsy Palisander with saffron and myrrh. Rei Kawabuko’s avant-garde anthem, “Red is as strong as black,” wafts volumes of her rebellious roots, where “freedom and the spirit of defiance is the source (fountainhead) of my energy.”

Follow the spirit to Comme des Garcons Red Shop, a pimento-hot concept store on rue de Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris, and have a red light special at Pigalle’s Le Carmen, imbibing a glass of Chartreuse with a fiery pout.

 

Published on Nomad-Chic.com

September 2013