“I love red; it is the colour of life” — Christian Dior
The year was 1949 when Christian Dior created a lipstick that he would send to his most treasured clients, as a way of thanking them for their patronage. Four years later in 1953, he created 2 shades: N°9 and N°99 (his favourite numbers) that models wore for one of his runway shows. Fast forward many years later, and the House’s by-now iconic shade was relaunched as N°999 in homage to its predecessors, but reinvented in so many wonderful new formulas and textures. Classic, sexy, empowering and absolutely timeless … that’s what red is all about.
Couture Colour Rouge Blush 999 (CAN $54.00) | Housed in the brand’s emblematic lacquered navy case and including a brush and mirror on the inner lid, this is a highly pigmented red hue in a brand new texture that is almost creamy to the touch, blends effortlessly along the skin, and is long-lasting (when worn over primer/foundation). Inspired by the namesake lipstick, this shade may look intimidating in the pan but bear in mind that a soft dusting applied to the cheeks yields the most natural looking flush of colour (remember that skin naturally blushes a red tone; this is similar in concept) — just go in with a light hand and diffuse. TIP: after applying, I like to soften the look and buff out any edges by using my foundation brush/sponge.
Recently reformulated, these lipsticks come in the same lacquered navy outer casings embellished with the brand’s iconic cannage (caning) pattern in silver. When Monsieur Dior created this particular red hue, he specifically wanted a shade that would suit & flatter all skin tones across the board and in that respect, I’d have to say that he succeeded. With a wonderful balance of both warm and cool undertones, this shade leans neither too blue nor orange, and basically takes the guesswork out of finding one’s perfect red.
- Rouge Dior 999 (CAN $43.00) | Ultra pigmented with a super creamy lip feel. Long-lasting (although its emollient nature means that at some point it will require reapplication, in particular after eating/drinking) it will not migrate into surrounding lip lines. Lush shiny finish.
- Rouge Dior 999 Matte (CAN $43.00) | With perfect opacity from the very first swipe, this shade is super colour saturated and comes to a velvety finish, as opposed to a flat matte. Super comfortable throughout the wearing, it has excellent longevity and fades to a nice rose stain. You can use a matching liner for a more precise look, or smudge out the edges with a lip brush to give it a modern twist.
For those who may be a touch commitment-shy when it comes to sporting a red lip, Dior gives us a few more Rouge 999 options to play with. It goes without saying that a shade in this colour family will never be of the ‘swipe-and-go’ variety, but in the case of the three shown here, they are all much more forgiving in terms of application.
∗I believe that the Rouge Brillant range is no longer available, but I still wanted to include the version I own in this roundup. That said, this shade also comes in a matt liquid lipstick format which unfortunately I do not have, but now I’m curious to check out … and in all likelihood add to my Rouge 999 collection.
- Rouge Dior Ultra Rouge 999 (CAN $43.00) | Beautifully pigmented and with an über-creamy lip feel, this is basically the equivalent of wearing a very colour-saturated lip balm. Think of this as red lipstick lite, but way more sophisticated.
- Rouge Dior Brillant 999 | With a bevelled flocked applicator which scoops out the perfect amount of product for application, this lipgloss also has ultra fine shimmer bits that add shine and depth. Non-sticky in feel and coming to a high-gloss finish, this can also be layered over lipstick (so lush that way), and while staying power is about what you’d expect for a gloss, it does fade to a nice rosy stain.
- Ink Lip Liner 999 (CAN $38.00) | Recently launched by Dior, this is a multipurpose product: the felt-tip applicator can be used as a liner, although I don’t feel it works as precisely as a pencil version would, or used along its side to deposit colour all along the lips. At this point, you can wear it as is (the finish will be a cross between satin & matte), layered under lipstick to prolong wear time, or even with just with a slick of clear gloss/balm on top.
Of course, the Rouge 999 collection wouldn’t be complete without nails to match, wouldn’t you agree? And when it comes to nail polish, Dior lacquers rank quite high in my list of favourites. For starters, the brush is unbelievable, with a nicely chiselled shape that displays just the right amount of flexibility to splay effortlessly along the nail bed, but still maintains enough rigidity to keep the product from pooling out. With very few exceptions, the polishes are all highly colour saturated, lay down in a self-levelling way, and are pretty much streak-free. Finally, the finish is quite naturally glossy and you can literally get away with skipping top coat, but don’t, as it will definitely protect and prolong the colour.
Dior Vernis Rouge 999 (CAN $33.00) | An intense red shade that leans a touch cool but still easily wearable by those with warmer skin tones. The crème formula has that magic Dior ‘secret shimmer’ visible only in direct light, but so subtle even at that; it may not be obvious but it definitely serves to add a nice depth of tone. The texture is superb, displaying a perfect consistency, flow, & density and is relatively non-staining upon removal — just don’t skip applying base coat first. The swatch below is with 2 coats of polish, no top coat.
With the staggering amount of beauty products launched on what seems a daily basis and with limited edition pieces inciting a hoarding instinct for many makeup lovers out there, it’s nice to stop and focus on items that are not only permanent in a brand’s lineup, but true classics at that. And let’s face it; nothing says timeless quite like the colour red. Eccentric and wild colours will come & go but in the end, we will always return to the shade that basically began it all … and Rouge 999 in all its formats, is definitely RED done right.
Available at all Dior beauty counters
Kindly provided by Dior for my unbiased consideration