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Photo via Barneys.com

Once in a while I need to chat about something other than fragrance (imagine that!). Last spring I reviewed some lipsticks from Femme de Poppy, a new niche lipstick line by Poppy King. This fall I have two new shades to rave about: Well Red and Flight Risk…

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Photo via Barneys.com

As you might guess from the half-mask and the graphic black-and-white patterns on the packaging, Femme de Poppy’s guiding spirit is the Harlequin, that clever and mischievous character who’s been beguiling audiences and artists for centuries.

Sofia Chiostri Harlequin

I was looking for female harlequins and came across this work by Sofia Chiostri. This is actually Pierrette and Pierrot…but the mood and colors suit these lipsticks so well!

How has Poppy King’s interest in Harlequin’s trickster nature influenced these lipsticks?

Well, beyond that mask motif, Femme de Poppy’s balance of an innovative “dewy matte” texture, glamorous colors, and durable formulas is constantly surprising. Like Harlequin, these lipsticks are playful on the surface, but serious underneath.

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Femme de Poppy Well Red (my own photo)

This is Well Red, a pun that refers to Femme de Poppy’s smart-beauty philosophy:

In honor of our literary heroines, a deep red that’s both daring and elegant. It suits anyone looking for a little bit of flash and a lot of thought.

Well Red looks slightly warm and rust-tinged in the tube but shows up on my skin as a true neutral red. It’s sophisticated yet fresh, not “too much.” I have light-neutral skin and Well Red seems to brighten up my whole face.

I’ve been wearing Well Red to work as well as weekend events and it’s a new classic for me. It lasts well, wearing down gradually from full color to a semi-matte stain without any clumping or migrating beyond the lip-line. I’ve been touching up after lunch, but for a bold color, it’s surprisingly low-maintenance.

For swatches, I highly recommend visiting Femme de Poppy’s Instagram account, where you’ll see the lipsticks worn by women of various ages and skin-tones. Those images are much better than any I could take!

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Femme de Poppy Flight Risk (my own photo)

And here we have Flight Risk, a subtle shimmery lilac:

A lipstick for the commitment-free, this sheer mauve gives lips the slightly bruised and sexy look of too much kissing. For those who like to kiss and fly.

Flight Risk is a cool-toned shade that actually works as a “my lips but better” color on my cool-toned, medium-pigmented lips. I can’t wear most so-called “nude” lipsticks because they often resemble Silly Putty and they make me look washed-out. Flight Risk, on the other hand, is flattering in an is-she-wearing-lipstick-or-isn’t-she? way. Like Well Red, it clings to the skin and feels slightly waxy-dry, yet not drying, if that makes sense.

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Erwin Blumenfeld, designs by Elsa Schiaparelli (including her iconic Harlequin coat and some half-masks), 1938-39

We usually hear the expression “flight risk” in connection with someone accused of a crime, but “flight” can also suggest freedom and buoyancy — which is how Poppy seems to be playing with the phrase here.

If Flight Risk were a perfume, it would be something translucent and enigmatic like Fréderic Malle’s L’Eau d’Hiver (Jean-Claude Ellena, 2003), whereas Well Red reminds me more of the modern glamour of Malle’s Portrait of a Lady (Dominique Ropion, 2010).

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My own photo (a little blurry!)

Femme de Poppy lipsticks are currently exclusive to Barneys.com, where they’re currently marked down just a bit. As you may have heard, Barneys is about to liquidate its stock, so you may want to keep checking their site for further price cuts.

And the Femme de Poppy website will be offering e-commerce soon, so you can sign up there for updates.

Disclosure: I received these products as press samples.