Product Review: Helmut Red Lipstick from House of Exposure (with Poppy King)

If you’re a fan of Poppy King and her Lipstick Queen line of top-notch lip colors, you’ve probably also taken note of her guest collaborations with other brands—J. Crew, Kate Spade, and now, the “online concept boutique” called House of Exposure.

House of Exposure offers merchandise in all media, with a philosophy of “bringing art in all of its incarnations into our daily lives.” This year, House of Exposure’s creative director Periel Aschenbrand invited Poppy on board to create a lipstick inspired by Helmut Newton’s photographs of women.

In the press materials for Helmut Red, Poppy King recalls a “Nostalgia” column that she wrote for the June 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (you can view the article here and here). In that piece, she mentioned Helmut Newton’s 1974 profile shot of model Jerry Hall wearing rich red lipstick. This year, for the House of Exposure project, Poppy sought to duplicate that particular lipstick’s shade and finish, with its whole mood of 1970s sex appeal and Studio 54 decadence.

Here’s a look at the finished product, with an image of unconventional beauty Jenny Shimizu posing as the face (and body!) of Helmut Red. The lipstick’s tube has a shiny black metal finish and the box is designed to look like the packaging for rolls of film (remember those?!).

According to Poppy, Helmut Red has “a blue-ish base and a slightly eighties sheen” with a “high impact pigment load.” It really is a true cool red, classic and modern at the same time. (It’s a refreshing alternative to all the orange and tangerine “this-is-the-trend-and-you-must-buy-it” lip color we’ve been seeing for the past few months, in my opinion.)

Helmut Red has a creme finish with a hint of shine, but no shimmer or glitter. It’s an unscented lipstick. It applies with full coverage but no drag, like a coat of high-quality paint. It never feels heavy on the lips, yet it lasts very well for hours, even through a drink or a snack.

Here’s a swatch on my (pale) arm: you can see the intense pigment and the coverage, even in one stroke. I’d probably save Helmut Red for evening wear, but if you have stronger coloring or a more defined facial structure than I do, you might be able to pull it off in the daytime.

One last comment: I’m generally ambivalent about Helmut Newton’s work—a quick Google search will show you why he earned the sobriquet “the King of Kink”—but some of his portraits of specific women really are strong and sensual. And he does seem to acknowledge the symbolic power of their lipstick.

Helmut Red limited-edition lipstick ($25) is available through the House of Exposure website.

Disclaimer: a sample was provided for consideration/review by Poppy King and House of Exposure.

Images: top image via House of Exposure: “Nostalgia: The Jerry Effect,” VOGUE June 2007; three lipstick/swatch photos by Tinsel Creation; Monica Bellucci photographed by Helmut Newton, via Model’s Own.

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4 thoughts on “Product Review: Helmut Red Lipstick from House of Exposure (with Poppy King)

  1. I’m one of those people who goes on a quest to find the perfect red lipstick every now and then. I’m on that kick now actually. I like the bluer reds because supposedly they make your teeth look whiter but I try all shades. I also like the ones that stain your lips because there’s nothing worse than dark lipstick that’s half worn off. Not a pretty look. At least if they stain it blends a bit better. I have no opinion on Helmut Newton really though I have seen his work.
    Great blog by the way. I look forward to reading more of it.

  2. You are so on target with the 80s vibe and photo allusions (btw your Lady Gaga ad piece is a brilliant example of visual culture critique). You made me remember how I used to plaster my college dorm wall with oversized Helmut Newton ads. One of my favorite life highlights was a splurge stay years ago at the quirky Berlin B&B Askanischer Hof where Newton took numerous pictures, and stayed. Thanks for the memories, and now I’ve got to try some Poppy King

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