“One day we were diagnosed with ‘Rouge Fever’ and it’s been contagious ever since,” say the founders of @rougeroulade, the striking Instagram account dedicated to all things red. Bouquets of roses, a bloody raw steak, and stills from 1970s cult classic Velvet Vampire jostle together in this curated collection of found imagery, surveying this complex shade and its many connotations – desire, passion, anger and fear. “We add a saucy caption with a Pantone reference describing the rouge mood of the post,” they continue. Think: ‘Insanity Rouge’ (Monica Vitti in Red Desert) or ‘Assertive Rouge’ (a garishly glazed bundt cake).
“Rouge provokes uncomfortable emotions,” the three best friends, who are respectively a shoe designer, filmmaker, and activewear designer, and who run the account from Dubai, Beirut and New York, explain: “It’s dangerously devilish, and disgustingly sexy.” Rouge Roulade’s lo-fi aesthetic gives the feed an undeniable sense of humour (like the photograph of crimson toilet paper, Pantone rating: ‘Hygienic Rouge’.) “We wanted to create a sassy persona. Sensuality and food fascinate us, namely bad-tasting desserts. There’s something about a rolled up sponge cake drowned in cream that’s seductive. Personalising the roulade and giving it a character allows us to interact and play with our audience.”
The internet is full of polished, refined imagery but @rougeroulade offers something on the other end of the spectrum. “We try to steer away from what’s already available online. We want to bring something new to our audience through our spectacle. Our aesthetic is anything and everything rouge from the mundane to the wildly outrageous.” The imagery is selected according to group consensus. “It’s usually a back and forth conversation over our group chat. We measure the percentage of rouge. We have to dismiss options if they’re not rouge enough. Our Google search history is a scary place!”
Simple ideas are usually the best, they conclude, and here the different tonality and mood of each image leaves you feeling amused, aroused or both. “We want to show rouge is in the eye of the beholder. If you look closely you can see it everywhere.”