PARIS — As Britons flocked to the polls on Thursday, Chanel offered a bit of distraction from politics with an event at London’s Somerset House to mark the launch of its latest make up collection, “Fall 2016. Le Rouge Collection Number 1.” The other main attraction was brand ambassador Kristen Stewart.
This was the first collection designed by Lucia Pica in her role as Chanel’s global creative designer for makeup and color. To celebrate the occasion the French luxury house went all out, flashing red spotlights on the vast Neoclassical building that overlooks the Thames.
Laura Bailey, Lily Allen, Emily Weiss of online beauty brand Glossier, Henry Holland, and Erin O’ Connor were among the guests.
Pica aimed to subvert the classic status associated with the color red and to give the collection another dimension. She did so by working with the photographer Max Farago and filmmaker Clara Cullen to document her creative journey and different sources of inspiration associated with the color red.
Stewart, who is the face of the new collection’s campaign, said Pica’s array of references inspired her to have a deeper connection with the concept.
“This is my first makeup campaign that I had done with Chanel and they approached their work with such genuine impulse. I know that clothes can really acquaint you with aspects of yourself that can be surprising; when they tell a story and when they evoke a feeling it really can be like one of the coolest art forms there is,” she told WWD. “I didn’t really know how deep you could go with that on a makeup level but Lucia derives her work from something that is so fundamental to her and really comes from a deep place within her. Just seeing all of her references and inspirations was so special, it is not just about red lipstick.”
Stewart added that she has been playing with the products, and was immediately attracted to the rawness of the look that can be achieved.
“Red is not the most obvious choice to put — say — on your eyes or something like that, but it is the color of blood. It’s the color of what keeps us alive and so it is really emotional. You might think that red eyeliner might make you look tired but what it looks like is it looks raw. It looks like your blood is closer to the surface of your skin, it looks like you are alive so there is something engaging about it. Basically you are taking what you naturally have and enhancing it so it doesn’t feel like a mask,” said the actress who will be shooting the first short film she has written and directed herself at the end of July.
The collection consists of a variety of products — an eye shadow palette, six lip colors, nail varnishes, blush, mascara, lip liners and long-lasting eyeliners — in order to allow customers to achieve a full look.
“You can actually wear the full collection and not look completely made up because all of the colors are very harmonious. A red undertone runs through the whole collection, so it is not just red colors, you can pair it with warm and earthy colors as well. It makes it less harsh for the face to wear this color,” said Pica.
Prices range from 17.50 pounds, or $26, for a lip liner to 40 pounds, or $59, for the eye shadow palette.
Pica’s initial choice to focus on the color red for her inaugural collection for the house came from a personal obsession, as well as from Chanel’s strong associations with the color.
“I really wanted to start somewhere very personal because I felt it was the only way I could be proud of this. I also found out that it was a strong asset for the house, and Mademoiselle Chanel used to say, ‘I love the color red, it is the color of life and the color of blood.’ She also used to say ‘put your red lipstick on and attack.’ So for her it meant power and femininity and this resonated with me so much,” added Pica.
She added that working with Farago on the images felt natural, given her personal relationship with him.
“Max understands where I am coming from. He knows me really well so he knows how to put through my vision. Things like this sometimes just start through dinner you know?” said Pica. “We wanted to do something that felt a little bit fresher and a little bit more modern. I wanted to put myself into what is happening right now, and how I can discover things while doing them. I wanted to do a study of the color red, and I wanted to go a little deeper with it and how this color makes you think and how it makes you feel. It turns out it is about women and the celebration of women and how we react to this color, how this color happens on our faces.”
Another collaborator of Pica’s, hair stylist Sam McKnight, was also in attendance and he described the collection as “sensual and very true to what Chanel and Lucia are all about.”
McKnight has been planning a new book and an exhibition at Somerset House which will launch in November and will showcase his work throughout the years. “It won’t just be pictures on the walls, we aim to create an experience and it will hopefully help to elevate my profession, as currently people don’t know too much about what we do,” he told WWD.