I should (Rouge) Coco - The new lipstick from CHANEL

Lipstick has been overshadowed by its less mature sister, lipgloss, for ages. No, it's not groundbreaking (or, really, important in the larger context) but the recent change in the beauty landscape back to full-on lipcolour is comforting for those of us who brave even the most inhospitable environs in matte red lipstick.

The renaissance of sophisticated lipwear over the last few seasons is, I think, a boon for pouts the world over. Lipstick 2.0 is gives us an amped up version of this ancient beauty aide -- from quality packaging to innovative formulas. Who's leading the charge? CHANEL, of course, the brand that always seems to do the same thing but by doing so ends up on the cutting edge. Defies belief and probably riles the competition. However, they know what they like and what they do well, and they like lipstick so much that its cult 2.55 handbag has a dedicated pocket just for the prized product.

This lipstick revolution has a name - Rouge Coco, and it's happening quietly. What makes it so revolutionary? The devil's in the details, dears, and the details have been overlooked far too long in the name of the bottom line. Have a quick rummage through your makeup drawer. Pluck out the lipsticks and look at them, really look at them. Roll them around in your hand. How do they feel? Certainly not like Rouge Coco. The new lipstick comes in a metal tube... when was the last time you bought a lipstick swathed in anything other than plastic? It feels luxurious cupped in the palm - heavy, cool to the touch. The cap snaps on to the base, making the most satisfying sound, within are the intertwined double Cs, as well as atop the lid.

Once you get passed the extraordinary exterior, a glossy but highly pigmented product is revealed. All 33 colours in the new range are based on a backlog of colours, some digital, dating back to the 1960s. Most are supremely wearable, falling into the nude, taupe, rosy, dusty pink hues. The texture is slick and easy to apply in just two swipes. While out to coffee with the lovely CHANEL beauty team in London, I applied the Cambon in one go without even using a mirror. Once on, the lipstick has the faintest and very pleasant smell of roses and feels hydrating. 

My favourite colours are Perle (a pearescent Mauve, La Pausa (a coral), Legende (a rosy pink), Mademoiselle (like Legende but a shade more nude. No double wearable by all) and Cambon (a wonderfully flattering red).

Peter Phillips is attempting this lipstick coup by bringing down a generation lipgloss rule with a formula that we can get our collective, lipgloss-wearing heads around, helped along with a return to quality, glamour and longevity. Gloss is for throwaway fashion and beauty culture.  

Lipstick that's a full-on sensory experience, like Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lipcolour, is for life and a beautifying investment to see you through the hard times (looking good on you day and night, nurturing the quality over quantity lifestyle) and the good. It's meant to be as classic as the 2.55. While I'm not willing to shell out the dosh for the latter, I'm happily going to be stocking up on the former this spring. It feels luxurious to own, wear and use everyday, chipping away at the mundane one tube at a time.

CHANEL Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lipcolour launches in February 2010 with campaigns a-go-go bringing Vanessa Paradis back in all her whistling, Parisienne glory.