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EXCLUSIVE: Chanel Names Three Global Creative Makeup Partners

Ammy Drammeh, Cécile Paravina and Valentina Li are the first makeup artists appointed to the Cometes Collective.

PARIS — Three’s a charm for Chanel, which is taking a newfangled approach to makeup creation. The French luxury house has just appointed a trio of global creative makeup partners to steer the creation of Chanel color cosmetics.

Ammy Drammeh, Cécile Paravina and Valentina Li have been named as the first artists to join the Cometes Collective, which is described by Chanel as “a group of emerging talents shaping the future of beauty.”

The collective is to accelerate the creative momentum of the Chanel Makeup Creation Studio and take a pluralistic vision of beauty through a collaborative effort.

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“Comètes” is French for “comets,” and was chosen as a moniker for the infinite possibilities the word invokes. The collective’s constellation of rising stars will grow in the future.

“The house is proud to partner with these artists, the deserving recipients of international acclaim for their creativity, their expertise, and their free and authentic visions of beauty,” Chanel said in a statement. “With the support of the Chanel Makeup Creation Studio, they will contribute to the development of new collections and imagine inspiring content for Chanel makeup lovers.”

The Makeup Creation Studio has always developed color cosmetics for Chanel and its direction has been spearheaded by numerous people in the past. Lucia Pica was the house’s global creative makeup and color designer for six years, starting in 2015. Peter Philips drove Chanel makeup development between 2008 and 2013, and Dominique Moncourtois and Heidi Morawetz helmed the brand’s makeup division together for nearly three decades.

Today large French fashion brands tend to have one makeup artist in charge of their color cosmetics collections. The most recent hires have been swiftly ascending young makeup artists. Guerlain signed on Violette Serrat as its new creative director for makeup, and Givenchy, Thom Walker, for instance.

In the beauty industry, the fragrance category has seen an increased number of products developed by numerous perfumers simultaneously. Two, three and sometimes even four work in tandem, often out of various countries, with brands saying the multiple vantage points offer variety and richness to their creations.

The Chanel makeup artists will come to Paris when they work on the house’s collections. That could be individually or together. None will be focused on a specific makeup category and each is to have the support of the makeup studio.

“The Cometes Collective breathes new life into the Chanel art of makeup, shifting paradigms of beauty by amplifying new voices,” the house said. “The birth of the Cometes Collective reflects a new creative and visionary chapter at the heart of the Chanel Makeup Creation Studio, written in the present, while paying homage to the past, in keeping with the core values of the house.”

Drammeh, of Spanish and Gambian heritage, was raised in Spain and moved to London in 2010.

Chanel said Drammeh draws on her cultural background for inspiration. The makeup artist’s work has appeared in the pages of magazines such as Vogue, Dazed and i-D, and campaigns for brands including Dior, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Alberta Ferretti.

“I had many mentors. I assisted incredibly talented makeup artists, and I learned valuable lessons from all of them,” she said in the Chanel statement. “Being able to work with such diverse talent has shaped the way I work today. Their very unique approaches to the craft have helped me find my own.”

Now she’s giving back by having joined Mentoring Matters, an initiative focused on establishing equity and increasing opportunities in creative industries for Black and Asian candidates, as well as those from other ethnic minorities.

Drammeh appeared on the British Fashion Council’s New Wave Creatives list in 2018 and 2019.

She described her creative signature as “real, more than natural,” and said her vision of makeup is “effortless with a twist….[My] style of makeup is a bit like that. It feels uncomplicated and free, but when you look closer, you can see the pauses, the accents and the detail.”

“Drammeh’s talent for color, mastery of texture and unparalleled expertise when it comes to complexion rendered her an unmissable artistic collaborator in the eyes of the house,” said Chanel.

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After studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium-born Paravina moved to Paris.

“Her education in the culture of fashion and art history infuses her creations with sophistication and refinement, as demonstrated by her signature precision and keen eye for detail,” said Chanel.

Paravina has collaborated with Lea Colombo, Valentin Herfray, Paul Kooiker, Arnaud Lajeunie, Georgia Pendlebury, Elizaveta Porodina, Drew Vickers and Charlotte Wales.

“Following in the iconoclastic footsteps of her mentor Serge Lutens, Paravina is a true artist who, despite her young age, demonstrates a generous vision of beauty marked by intergenerational transmission,” said Chanel, which described her creativity as “unapologetic.” “She will freely revisit the shape of the eye, making an eyebrow disappear, or reinterpret the beauty of a smile in a totally unique and unexpected way. Her curious exploration of volume, her purity of line, the originality of her forms — Paravina’s work is immediately distinguished by the originality of her gaze and her innovative technical approach.”

She always tries her makeup looks on herself first, and was quoted by Chanel as saying: “Wear what you would like to see on the street.”

Paravina entered the British Fashion Council’s New Wave Creatives list in 2020.

“Her presence at the heart of the Cometes Collective underscores the conviction espoused by the Chanel Makeup Creation Studio that beauty is a language in perpetual evolution, at the service of an expression of beauty that belongs not just to a privileged few, but to many,” said Chanel.

Li, a native of Guangxi, in China, studied makeup in Beijing and Paris, and, when not traveling, is China-based. The self-proclaimed face painter speaks fluent English, Mandarin, Cantonese and French. Her work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Dazed, Elle and T Magazine.

Chanel said Li “has the unique ability to imagine whimsical, fantastical and fabulously colorful worlds for her creative spirit to wander.” For an avatar, she’d choose a blue jellyfish, and has a penchant for that color for everything from her hair to eyes and nails.

Chanel quoted Li as saying her makeup creation is a “long journey that flirts between [my] dreams, notebooks, blank canvases waiting to be painted and finally, the transparency of skin.”

She sets out to make what’s old new again.

“The experimental, nonconforming futurist is nonetheless deeply inspired by the talent and stories of her elders, mentors and makeup masters,” said Chanel. “The artist of a perennial blue period is also deeply connected to nature, transporting imagery from both the invisible and visible spaces of the sea into the conception of her collections, much like Gabrielle Chanel’s early references to the coast of Deauville.”

Chanel said: “With the Cometes Collective, the Chanel Makeup Creation Studio accelerates its creative momentum, leveraging the power of diversity by empowering multiple points of view. This innovative and inclusive concept opens a new realm of possibility in the heart of the studio.”

The house is already a force in the beauty industry. According to the most recent WWD Beauty Inc Top 100 listing, reflecting 2021 sales, Chanel placed eighth among manufacturers of fragrance, makeup and skin care, with estimated sales of 6.08 billion euros. That represented a 31 percent rise versus 2020 and a 4 percent gain against 2019, according to estimates.

During 2021, all three of Chanel’s beauty segments grew, although its makeup business — especially the lip segment — continued to suffer the impacts of the health crisis. Tech-wise, the brand introduced a lipstick matching app, LipScanner, which allows users to match photos they upload to shades in Chanel’s range using artificial intelligence.

The French luxury house reported that total revenues, meanwhile, registered a record $15.6 billion.

Globally overall last year, the color cosmetics industry’s sales grew slower than that of skin care or fragrance, with gains of 9.3, 10.4 and 18.1 percent, respectively, versus 2020, according to Euromonitor International.

But now that mask-wearing is on the decline, makeup sales are forecast to register the highest gains and grow by 5.1 percent, whereas fragrance and skin care sales should rise 3.6 and 3.9 percent, respectively, in 2022 against 2021, the market research provider’s data shows.