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In search of: Norman Rockwell-worthy crimson lips

December 30, 2010 | 10:00 am

Rockwell On holiday here in Washington, D.C., I stopped by the fantastic Norman Rockwell exhibit "Telling Stories," which features paintings and drawings by the well-known artist on loan from Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

And after discovering that I'd misjudged Rockwell's work all these years as simply apple-pie Americana (true, his work was idealistic but not without its dark shadows), I noted how fabulous looking all the women in his oeuvre were — with their washed-and-set '40s and '50s coifs and their neat-as-a-pin shirtwaist dresses.

Rockwell "cast" his paintings, drawing people from photographs and real life. And though female faces varied, they almost always boasted a similiar crimson mouth.

The lip color? Pure 1940s orange-based red, a hue that's so high maintenance, my guess is most modern gals would shy away from it.

But Rockwell's glamorous femmes inspired me to find a modern-day facsimilie of the face-brightening lip color. Below, a few options:

Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture in Blood Red: This va-va-voom hue, $30, is a definite Rockwell red, packing the power to enliven an otherwise bare (or nearly bare) face.

Clarins1 Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Cherry Lush: Ford appreciates a good retro lip, and his Private Blend collection is full of classic colors, none of which seem more Rockwellian than Cherry Lush, $45. Though it's definitely a pinky red, it's deeply pigmented and absolutely '50s.

Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick: But the winning color has to be this orange-based crimson from Clarins (pictured). Thick and intensely pigmented, the fire-engine-red lip color is fit for an icon.

--Emili Vesilind

Photos, from top: Norman Rockwell's "The Flirts," from Steven Spielberg's collection. Credit: Smithsonian American Museum of Art. Clarins Joli Rouge Lipstick. Credit: Clarins