As part of Tom Ford’s expansive “Lips & Boys” collection, the artist formally known as Zayn of One Direction has also made his mark on the range of pinks, reds, purples, and browns that I swear I will one day own. And like Ford’s “Drake,” “Malik” has fallen under the “violets to orchids” category, boasting a purple hue with a gentle shimmer that embodies both his cultural impact (visible) as well as his penchant for the feminine (even more visible -- and also shimmer, lots of shimmer).
But unlike Drake -- or at least Drake’s lipstick equivalent -- “Malik” has yet to prove his solo clout. Where Drake’s tone promised a deep plum (and was more of a dark pink-purple), Zayn’s shade is even lighter, kinda violet-meets-nude. Which makes sense: Less than a year ago, Zayn was still a Non-Threatening Boy. To introduce him with a super-sexy or #controversial gothic or crimson tone would be jarring to a younger 1D audience -- mainly because they probably wouldn’t be allowed to wear it. (Which makes me think the deep-purple lipstick called “Liam” is a dedication to Gallagher or Hemsworth, especially since “Louis” is bright pink.)
So, ultimately, “Malik” is light, trendy, and won’t freak out parents.
On the flip side, Ariana Grande’s MAC Viva Glam screams “IDGAF!” But seriously: Per Grande herself, the dark (near-black) plum lipstick was made specifically to “represent the bad girl in you.” (While the light, sheer-pink gloss counterpart allows you to “play both sides.”) It is a lipstick conceived by a feminist woman, its bold tone representative of who you want to be as well as how you want the world to see you. It is a matte commitment. It commands attention in a way that says, “I could end you.” It is gothic and it is formal and it is also something you can put on with a hoodie while going to see a movie alone on a Sunday afternoon. It’s not traditionally “romantic,” but it’s most certainly powerful. It’s the color I wasn’t allowed to wear as a kid and/or preteen, so I wear it as a grown-ass woman. Which makes “Malik” seem a little like the Viva Glam gloss, comparatively.
Where Ariana Grande’s Viva Glam allows us to revel in the majesty of aesthetic transformation (like armor to wear while bossing up), Tom Ford’s “Malik” reflects the ethos projected by the 23-year-old singer (arguably by the singer himself): that lipstick shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all; that there’s more to a woman than just makeup ... blah, blah, blah. It’s lovely -- safe, sweet, a fallback just-in-case color that might live out the rest of its career bumping around, having gone to the bottom of your purse. Viva Glam, on the other hand? It brings new meaning to “focus.”