Jenny Shimizu’s Haute Lips

Much has been made about the perfect red lipstick because much can be made with it. A red lipstick can swipe away the blues, to riff on something Pauline Trigere famously said. It can also empower a gal (and some guys) to face anything in a way she might not otherwise.

One gal who has taken on life with the boldness and beauty of the perfect red lipstick is Jenny Shimizu, the mechanic-model-actress-now casting agent for Elite who continues to reinvent herself. The latest entry in her colorful story could very well be beauty entrepreneur as she plays both model and co-conspirator in the new “Helmut Red” for the online boutique House of Exposure.

Her partners in crimson are Periel Aschenbrand and Poppy King.

Periel is the creative director of House of Exposure and a quick-wit feminist whose 2005 book “The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own” and subsequent T-shirts brandishing this and other politically titillating slogans  put her on the cultural zeitgeist. (Oddly, I came across my long-lost ribbed tank with her “Bush” tag line this weekend during an excavation of my bedroom closet. Given how the attack on women’s health has only heightened, it appears Periel’s work is not yet done.)

For many of us, Poppy’s name is synonymous with the perfect lipsticks, having launched a line of wonderfully opaque tubes when she was only 18 some two decades ago in her hometown of Melbourne. She re-emerged in 2001 in New York with a new brand called Lipstick Queen, and a bio on her highs and lows and highs again as a beauty entrepreneur called Lessons of a Lipstick Queen.

Together, this trio of superheroines among lipstick-wearing feminists have conjured the superwomen of Helmut Newton’s 35-millimeter visions by naming their maiden effort after the late lensman. Even the packaging was designed to suggest a film canister.

It’s a provocative decision to channel Helmut Newton, given his work still incites debate between one camp who considers what he did as debasing to women and another who interpret it as empowering.

Where ever the discourse falls, it’s inarguable the man knew the power of red lipstick. Jenny Shimizu, agrees, and talks to La Vie En Rose on the topic.

La Vie En Rose: Why did you decide to do your own lipstick?
Jenny Shimizu: Initially, I was brought in as the “lip” of the lipstick. It was really Periel and Poppy who came up with the idea and I managed to weasel my way in. It is such an honor to work with these two women. We all had our own ideas of the beauty business and we want each color to represent all three aspects. It kind of happened very organically: we met; we shot the picture; and that created a real energy to band together to create something much bigger.

LVER: How does red lipstick make you feel?
JS: Honestly, red lipstick worn on a woman besides myself is an instant turn-on for me.  It is a symbol of courage and sex appeal. Most women won’t even think of wearing red. So the few who do instantly get my attention. It is an art to wear red. The best thing about Helmut Red is that it contains certain shades that make it wearable on every skin tone. We had this idea in mind: red for all!

LVER: How has Helmut Newton factored in your personal experience?
JS: I have no personal ties to Helmut.  I have only the gratitude for the man as an artist and sharing with us his art.  Seeing his black and white images as a kid really gave me room to imagine.  It gave me comfort in knowing that strong, masculine, feminine, beautiful, sexy women could be portrayed as just that. It was his respect for women that really came through to me. We could be all this and respected and portrayed beautifully. The drama never surpassed the beauty.

LVER: Is this the first of more make-up under your influence?  If so, what’s next?
JS: Helmut Red is the first of many lip colors we will be making under House of Exposure. Each color will be an homage to a certain artist or theory. We really want to make sure our product has a message and  I’m working with two very incredible women, who have a lot to say.  Stay tuned lots more to come!!

The limited-edition Helmut Red is $25 and now only sold at House of Exposure and very soon exclusively at l.a. eyeworks stores.

Posted in Beauty, Fashion, Photography, Style


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