Which brings us to the era of the supermodel. Enter Naomi Campbell, the owner of the most naturally beautiful lips of all time. In the history of the lip, we had reached the apex of perfection.
And then came Angelina … and all hell broke loose.
Angelina Jolie’s shockingly sensual mouth eclipsed the Béatrices and Biancas and raised the bouche-bar to a new and irresistible level, However, by the time La Jolie became the woman every gal wanted to look like, cosmetic lip-enhancement was readily available. The natural beauty of the Jolie lips—I’m assuming they are God-given since they look the same now as they did in Gia—gradually got lost in a mire of copy-catting, confusion and collagen. Cosmetic fakery, combined with a rabid desire to look like Angelina, pitched women headlong into the era of the trout-pout. But instead of looking like Angie or Bianca or Béatrice or Naomi women began to resemble Donald Duck.
Last week I watched Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution. Marlene Dietrich’s tiny mouth quickly became a source of fascination and distraction. What would the Real Housewives of today make of Dietrich’s delicate gob? They would probably cover their eyes and shriek, “SHE was a movie star? But where are her lips?” When Witness came out in 1957, it was all about eyes and pointy boobs, and that tight Dior New Look silhouette. The only person in that movie sporting squishy pillow lips is Quasimodo himself, the fabulous Charles Laughton.
Back to Vreeland. D.V. is the subject of a spanking new documentary called The Eye Has to Travel, directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. Do not miss it. Full disclosure: I have a teensy on-screen moment, looking a bit thin-lipped myself. I worked for Vreeland in the mid ’80s and remain a rabid devotee. Her attitude on the matter of “good taste” has made me a lifelong convert. “Vulgarity,” she declared in her autobiography, “is a very important ingredient in life. A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s physical. I think we could all use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.”
Vreeland, who died in 1989, was also very pro-plastic surgery. When she was the editor of Vogue she once asked Elliott Erwitt to shoot images of an eye-lift in progress. When she triumphantly unfurled the resulting shots, her colleagues instantly became queasy: “One left immediately to throw up, others were gagging and carrying on …”
What would she have made of Jackie Stallone’s lips and the trout-poutery of today? When it came to the follies and grotesqueries of life, she always encouraged us to adopt a nonjudgmental, amused posture: “What catches my eye when I pass a window is the hideous stuff—the junk. Plastic ducks!!!”
Where will the lip trend end? Maybe we should ask Jackie Stallone. She, as you may well be aware, is an astrologer of long standing, and currently makes her living telling people’s fortunes by looking at their asses, an art she calls rumpology.
I am assuming, now that lips are getting so much larger, that lipology is not far off.