Lips: MAC's Lipstick in "Leading Lady Red" (LE) [MAC x Charlotte Olympia 2016]

I thought that, with regards to my beauty reviews, I'd reel myself back in starting with the most recent MAC collection and working my way backwards, throwing in reviews of permanent products and other brands in between. That brings us to the MAC x Charlotte Olympia collaboration that released online March 17, 2016 - almost two weeks ago.

Charlotte Olympia is a shoe designer with a love for the 1940s Hollywood beauty scene, resulting in a collection of classic reds, soft whites and browns, and packaging that is a vanity accessory as much as it is, well, packaging. As per usual I never knew who this person was until news of this collection surfaced, but I thought I'd include a brief description of who she is for curiosity's sake.

Personally, as much as the 1940s happens to be my favorite look in this popular video here and in the B├ęsame line of lipsticks, I'm not a big fan of red. I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I thought I'd mention it again. I do own some red lipsticks, but most fall into the 'pinky-red' or 'berry-red' categories, which I consider the exceptions. The Olympia lipsticks, on the other hand, are all neutral-to-warm toned lipsticks.

After a bit of a debate as to whether or not I should purchase anything from this collection, I finally settled on the limited edition lipstick "Leading Lady Red," what seemed to be the most cool-toned red of the bunch, picking it up more for the packaging than the color itself and hoping that everything would work out in the end.

Name: Leading Lady Red
Net Wt.: 0.1 oz./ 3 g.
Price: $18
Finish: Matte

I don't always include the outer box packaging in my reviews, but I thought I would here since the design does not mirror the design on the actual lipstick packaging. There's a bunch of kiss marks (red, of course), silhouettes of hands with red polish, eyes with thick liner, and spiderwebs against a white background. I'm not sure what the deal is with the spiderwebs, but I didn't look further into Olympia as a designer besides what I mentioned before, so I'll likely never know.

As for the limited edition lipstick packaging itself, it's a clear acrylic, rectangular tube with the lipstick bullet being held in a gold 'barrel.' The MAC/collection logos, seen below, are written in thin black lettering along the side of the acrylic.

I noticed on forums that a lot of people hate this packaging. They think it's ugly and looks cheap. If you couldn't guess from this post's introduction, I actually fell in the minority and bought a lipstick in good part due to the packaging. I thought the clear acrylic was really cool and radically different from the typical MAC packaging.

With that being said, I'm going to be realistic here: my opinion on the packaging isn't completely positive. I suppose it never was, but it became even less so once I had the lipstick in my possession. Before I actually owned this lipstick, I thought the packaging would have been significantly more interesting if the clear acrylic was shaped to match typical MAC packaging, as opposed to being rectangular

Once my tube arrived in the mail, I was even more disappointed by MAC's (or Olympia's) choice to make the packaging rectangular due to the clunky, bulky feeling that results from it. Furthermore, I will not deny that, as could be expected with acrylic packaging, the tube does feel very light and cheap. I'm almost nervous that the cap will crack every time I have to snap it back on. ALL of that aside, I am still more satisfied than dissatisfied by the clear packaging, and have this lipstick sitting on my vanity the way Olympia intended. 

MAC describes "Leading Lady Red" as a "deep red." Yup. That's it. A deep red. Since that description did nothing as far as helping me to pick between this red and the two others, I ended up resorting to online swatches to help make my decision (since I knew I'd be purchasing online). In the end, "Leading Lady Red" seemed to be the most cool-toned red of the three, and the most different from other MAC reds I own, hence why I purchased it. 

Let me be clear: by saying it seemed the most cool-toned, is not to say it's at all cool-toned. Although the above closeup is a bit warmer than in person, "Leading Lady Red" is at best a neutral red. I think the fact that it is, as MAC says, a deeper red, is what saves the color for me. 

LEFT: Indirect sunlight (most accurate).
RIGHT: Near-direct sunlight (warmer).

I'm dealing with strange lighting situations in these pictures, being they're the first I've taken in my current place of residence in California, so I included two swatches above - one in indirect sunlight and one in near-direct sunlight. I will say the swatch on the left is more color accurate, while the swatch on the right is warmer than in person, much like the bullet closeup before. 

I'm happy to report that on my still fair skin, the depth of "Leading Lady Red" gives the illusion of a more cool-toned, borderline berry-toned red. I want to stress that this is only an illusion because, as you'll see shortly in some comparison swatches, "Leading Lady Red" is not very berry-toned at all when compared to a truer berry/red lipstick. 

MAC'S "Beet" lip liner (lined and only partly filled) with "Leading Lady Red" over it. 

I know the above picture is on the darker side but, again, please bear with me while I sort out my lighting situation. Even that I don't care much for reds, and "Leading Lady Red" is more neutral than pink or berry, I can't deny that this lipstick has a very elegant, classic look to it. The lipstick's velvety matte finish plays a big role in this, and is also a big part of why the lipstick is so opaque going on. While MAC's matte formula is creamy and easy to wear, this matte in particular went on very smoothly and wore comfortably for hours without wearing off. 

L-R: Kinky, Leading Lady Red, Petit Red, Heaux.

Now for those comparisons I mentioned earlier. While "Leading Lady Red" is not identical to any lipsticks I already own from MAC, you'll see that it does have varying degrees of similarity to a few of them, with the three I was most reminded of shown above: "Kinky," "Petit Red," and "Heaux" (all LE)

Top, L-R: Kinky, Leading Lady Red, Petit Red, Heaux.
Bottom: Beet lip liner.

"Kinky" is the most similar of the bunch in both finish and color, only being lighter and perhaps a hair warmer toned. "Petit Red," my favorite MAC red, is much pinker with a satin finish while "Heaux" (from its second release as an amplified finish that's still available for purchase) is much more berry-toned. I also included a swatch of MAC's "Beet" liner since I used it to line my lips in the full-face picture shown earlier. 

Overall, while "Leading Lady Red" is an elegant, neutral deep red in a fantastic matte formula, it's far from unique. You may very well already own something that's identical to it in color. If you don't, and the packaging is appealing to you the way it was to me, then check it out in stores. I think the matte formula is stunning for this particular color, but it may not be enough if you have this shade of red and/or think the packaging is cheap

As for me, I will not be repurchasing this lipstick. I'm not disappointed with my purchase but I know that, like all classic reds that I own, it won't get a ton of wear. For me, personally, it's simply too elegant to wear on an everyday basis, and takes quite a bit of patience to apply precisely (hence the liner, which I don't use often). 

I think the next MAC collection I'll review is Flamingo Park, which I took pictures for back in New York. I also have a lot of affordable products I want to review - many of which are permanent - so I need to get going on that, too. In any case, I hope you found this review helpful! If you picked up anything from this collection or you're sick of MAC releasing reds, lol, feel free to comment below. Thanks for stopping by, and 'til next time. ('<>')>



  1. Okay I'm going to buy it even tho I have a million reds. I love the swatches& it looks fantastic on you.

    1. Hey. :) Thank you for the kind words! I hope you love it, as it is a pretty (although not very unique) shade. xD