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Seeing Red: A Cultural Guide to your Festive Look

Have you got the message yet? Look! It’s gleaming from the pages of the weekend supplement and beaming from the face of Nigella. It’s bundled into filo parcels in the frozen aisle of Lidl. It’s written on the metallic packets of crisps flavoured ‘Sage, Orange and Glitter’. The immortal phrase – that rallying cry – rising in chorus from a rack of glittery jumpers in M&S. The words… “It’s Christmas party season”. And as every starry-skied ad will tell you, it’s the call to which the response can only be: “But what will you wear?”

Never fear readers. We’ve done our swiftly-googled seasonal research. And according to Ciara Sheppard of Glamour Magazine, “red is going to be THE colour of winter”. So there’s a start. Plus, Ciara’s got solid evidential back-up in the form of 28 photos of celebrities in shades of scarlet. Who are we to argue? It’s festive, it’s bold, it’s the new black.

But before that picture of Rihanna looking great that one time has you rushing out of the door, let us suggest the ultimate accessory. Have you considered a dash of literary allusion, a sprinkle of myth? As a Lady (or gentleman) in Red, you’ve got a rich vein of cultural associations to mine. So why wear just an outfit when you can don a trope?

Lost? – Michael Fordham’s article in Kodachrome 2 may help. Continuing Kodachrome’s series on colour, we discovered that ‘the lady in red’ is more than just a Glamour-sanctioned winter look. It’s a bundle of cultural stereotypes, cropping up in our stories since the dawn of time and bringing all manner of metaphorical baggage with it.

So which allusion will you match to your shoes this season? We’ve taken the trouble out of choosing. Peruse our carefully picked selection of red lady looks from Mike’s feature.

The Red-draped Seductress

From the Whore of Babylon to Jessica Rabbit, it’s a trope as old as time. Why mess with a classic? (Six-headed beast, model’s own.)

The Bringer of Horror

Feeling a little apocalyptic? Hoping to make like Jack Frost and bring a chill to the air? Go all ‘Don’t Look Now’ with a sassy red cape and accessorise with murderous intent.

The Vengeful Woman

According to Chinese mythology, a wronged woman who dies in red can haunt her oppressor in the afterlife. If you’re planning on wreaking revenge this yuletide – a classy red’s your only option.

So grab your dress, shoes and trope. You’re all set. For ’tis the season when people inexplicably start dropping the word ‘do’ into their invites. Off to a festive do this evening? Thank us later – they’ll have never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight.

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To read Mike’s article in full, get your hands on Kodachrome 2.

 

 

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