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Make-up as an emancipation tool: from suffragettes to today

The power of make-up as freedom of expression

By Elisa Grasso

In the early twentieth century, suffragettes marched for women's emancipation by asking the United States of America to vote.

In the name of this fight, the already famous entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden, also suffragette, decided to give each of those women a fiery red lipstick directly from her shop, parading with them on Fifth Avenue against gender discrimination.

On August 18th, 1920, when the 19th Amendment was finally approved in the United States guaranteeing the right to vote for women, that red lipstick worn by the suffragettes and called "Everyday Lipstick" became a real symbol of power that had finally been granted to the female sex.

But Elizabeth Arden did not stop there: with the outbreak of the Second World War she created different shades of her iconic red lipstick - for example "Victory Red" and "Montezuma Red" - each of which perfectly matched the military uniforms. Women could feel free to be strong and courageous without giving up their femininity.

In the wonderful and controversial 70s and 80s, another place was an unbridled stage of make-up and more extravagant looks: Studio 54.

Pure transgression, freedom and hedonism flowed on the dancefloor of the local New York crowd frequented by icons such as Cher, Blondie, Andy Warhol, Liza Minelli, Diana Ross, Keith Richards, Mick and Bianca Jagger.

Meanwhile, starting in the late 1960s, another movement of emancipation was developing in the streets of the Harlem neighborhood in Manhattan within the Hispanic and black LGBT + community: Voguing.

Inspired by the poses of the supermodels photographed on Vogue, the voguing consisted of a dance competition between the categories of the different "Houses", of the houses managed by a "Mother" or a "Father" in which those fleeing a family took refuge and from a society from which they felt marginalized. These challenges took place in a clandestine way in the Ballrooms, hidden rooms in which to dance, parade and be seen in the freest expression of oneself.

Today Voguing has become a true discipline in the world of dance, and Ballrooms are still a phenomenon of aggregation where you can enjoy incredible performances, outfits and make-up.

This joie de vivre is expanding more and more even outside the Ballroom: make-up is no longer considered a prerogative of women but of anyone who wants to use it to give vent to their personality.

A recent example is undoubtedly that of Achille Lauro during his last participation in Sanremo.

 
 
 
 
 
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Ho sempre contaminato un genere con l’altro cercando di inventare musica non catalogabile ed impossibile da etichettare. Un anno fa ho iniziato ad immaginare la mia musica in modo diverso: volevo creare una performance artistica che suscitasse emozioni forti, intense e contrastanti, qualcosa che in pochi minuti fosse in una continua evoluzione visiva ed emotiva. Un piece teatrale lunga 4 minuti. “Me ne frego” è un inno alla libertà sul palco piu istituzionale d’Italia. La mia speranza è che potesse scuotere gli animi degli insicuri e le certezze di chi é fermo sulle sue certezze, perchè è sempre fuori dalla “zona comfort” il posto in cui accadono i miracoli. Me ne frego é un inno alla liberta di essere cio che ci si sente di essere. Me ne frego, vado avanti, vivo, faccio: questo è il messaggio che ho voluto dare con la canzone, è questo e il senso vero della scelta dei personaggi che io, il mio coodirettore creativo Nicoló Cerioni e il mio manager&Responsabile progetto Angelo Calculli abbiamo pensato di portare sul palco dell’Ariston. Menefreghisti positivi, uomini e donne liberi da qualsiasi logica di potere personale. Un Santo che se ne è fregato della ricchezza e ha scelto la “libera” povertà, un cantante che se n’è fregato dei generi e delle classificazioni sessiste, una Marchesa che a dispetto del suo benessere ha scelto di vivere lei stessa come un’opera d’arte, diventando una mecenate fino a morire in povertà e una regina che ha scelto la morte, evitando di curarsi abdicando, pur di restare li a proteggere e vivere per il suo popolo. La condizione essenziale per essere umani è essere liberi.

Un post condiviso da ACHILLE LAURO® (@achilleidol) in data:

With his looks dedicated to San Francesco d'Assisi, Ziggy Stardust, Marchesa Luisa Casati and Elisabetta I Tudor, Achille Lauro has made his art a hymn to freedom and contamination.

“Beyond the masculine and feminine, beyond the standardizing patterns of politically correct sexuality. Beyond the binary division ”.