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We don’t pay lip service to anyone.

For starters, we hate the word diva. Its misappropriation within the context of modern day whining wannabes has diminished its status, evolving the word from an iconic place of near goddess greatness – to the grubbier red top age, of pumped up C- list celebrities.

The colour red, ditto. Whether it’s the barmaid brashness of a red coat or the over demanding nature of badly behaved reality TV stars, chic modernity does not rest comfortably with either.

However, the time has come for our legitimate divas to clear things up, for our wardrobes to embrace the luxe of red – and to set the record straight.

First let’s begin at The Lowry, where curator Kate Farrell provides the ultimate litmus test for being a diva – you had to have been friends with Andy Warhol.

For the first time ever, The Lowry’s exhibition, “Warhol and the Diva”, has brought together the intimate collection of Warholian paintings and polaroids, which make up the artist’s finate expression of the term diva, via the images of just five women – and of course, himself.

Liza Minnelli ca. 1978. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

In a world where people seem to think they can buy exclusivity, there is one thing one can never buy – and that is to be exclusively someone else. Judy Garland, Debbie Harry, Jane Fonda, Liza Minelli, Marilyn Monroe – these women were true divas. And besides us sneaking Liz Taylor in through the stage door, the guestlist is closed.

Try hard brattish behaviour, from X Factor finalists – and even Beyonce’s vain attempt to readdress the negative connotations of the term diva – makes no headway. It’s not about self-proclaimed amazing-ness. Neither is it about wearing heels that you can’t walk down the stairs in.

And that is because it is not about trying hard. In fact, it’s not about trying at all. Warhol’s point and shoot polaroids are testament to that.

It’s simply about being the best – and not being able to stop being such a thing, even if you wanted. The word diva, literally meaning goddess, supports the notion further: goddesses aren’t manufactured. They are sent from above. But Garland, Marilyn, they were manufactured, you cry. Yes, indeed. More than that. They were owned. But whether it was a change of a name, or an MGM contract, which forcefed you narcotics, these iconic individuals were talented and beautiful. Divine beings, spotted, plucked – exploited.

Another casualty, having fallen victim to all of this diva confusion, is the colour red. For, just as the term diva has mistakenly re-hemoginized itself with the traits of one being over sexualized or power obsessed, so has red.

Where we’re heading: Prada A/W

It is time for red to veer away from the sexually aggressive connotations of the scarlet women  – and turn towards its more heartfelt heritage, whether that be the majesty of a kingdom, the honoured respect of the brave – or the symbolism of love itself.

Indeed, one theme that unifies Warhol’s Diva portraits is the wearing of red lipstick. Beauty insignia for the face, Warhol even barrels some on himself to signify his passing into female divaship. With a flash of red, these portraits communicate a graphic bite of magnificence.

Slick, expensive and coveted, our Pre-Fall ’11 edit mirrors the highly stylized sharpness of these images, their spirit – and the women celebrated within them. Suddenly, just as diva and red are readdressed, so is our eye for the coming season. Red isn’t a colour we should be afraid of, if we re-frame our focus.

Red isn’t the hallmark of trying to be the best, through bad behaviour. It’s about being the best. Full stop.

The result? A luxurious offering of investment pieces you can respect, admire – and love.

Warhol and the Diva runs until September 25 at The Lowry, Salford Quays.