oh stop, you’re making me blush: meeting chanel's lucia pica

A year and a half in the making, Lucia Pica’s debut collection for Chanel, Le Rouge Collection N°1, is a modern love letter to the color red.

by Holly Shackleton and i-D Staff
04 October 2016, 1:20pm

Charlee wears all clothing Chanel. Makeup Rouge Allure 'Rouge Ingénue'. Crayon Lèvres 'Natural'. Rouge Allure Ink 'Amoureux'.

Makeup Stylo Yeux Waterproof 'Eros'. Les 4 Ombres 'Candeur et Expérience'. Rouge Allure 'Ingénue'. Crayon Levres 'Seduction'. Crayon Lèvres 'Natural' 

Makeup Les 4 Ombres 'Candeur et Expérience'. Joues Contraste 'Rouge Profond'. Rouge Allure 'Rouge Ingénue'. Dimensions de CHANEL Mascara 'Subversif'.

Makeup Joues Contraste 'Rouge Profond'. Rouge Allure Velvet 'Rouge Feu'. Crayon Lèvres 'Désir'.

Makeup Les 4 Ombres 'Candeur et Expérience'. Stylo Yeux Waterproof 'Eros'. Rouge Allure Velvet 'Rouge Feu'. Crayon Lèvres 'Désir'.

Makeup Les 4 Ombres 'Candeur et Expérience'. Joues Contraste 'Rouge Profond'. Rouge Allure Velvet 'Audace'. Dimensions de CHANEL Mascara 'Subversif'.

When Chanel appointed Lucia Pica as Global Creative Designer for Makeup and Color in 2014, the fashion industry let out a collective cheer. Here was proof that good things do happen to great people. A year and a half since her appointment, and Lucia has released her highly anticipated debut collection for the house, Le Rouge Collection N°1. A riotous celebration of the color red, Le Rouge explores every shade and emotion the color suggests, from watermelon to roses, saffron to terracotta. "I am obsessed with the color red," Lucia reveals. "I always have been. As a color it's very related to femininity, the flush of love, desire, health, fever, youth… Red is so strong to me and yet it is also intrinsic to the world of Chanel." Since the creation of Chanel's first makeup line in 1924, red has played a central role in the house's DNA. "Coco Chanel used to say 'put your red lipstick on and attack'," Lucia says. "She loved red because it is the color of life, blood, and passion, and because it summons an emotion in you."

Dressed in a black linen shirt, blue jeans and Chanel pumps — her dark brown hair set off with a blood red lip — Lucia is warm, vibrant, and beautiful. Born in Naples in 1976, the budding makeup artist moved to London in 1999, where she assisted Charlotte Tilbury before branching out on her own in 2008. Her passion for big, bold color and her innate ability to tap into the mood of the times fast established her at the forefront of beauty industry, where she continues to shape the future of makeup with her pioneering vision for Chanel.

For her debut collection for the house, Lucia was keen to subvert the role of red beyond nail polishes, lipsticks, and blushers to include eye shadows and eye pencils too. "Everyone thinks putting red around your eyes will make you look sick or tired, but it doesn't," she says. "It makes you look brighter." Meticulously researched, the Le Rouge Collection N°1 color palette has rich Mediterranean undertones. A sweep of blusher across the cheeks, or a smudge of color across the lips will instantly transform your face, making it appear flushed and glowing. Think sun-kissed skin after a day on the beach, the healthy glow of a great workout, or the warm blush of first love. "The idea of contrast is very strong at Chanel," Lucia explains. "Oppositions of textures; a really matte eye shadow alongside a super shiny one, the modern and the classic, the day and night…"

To embark on her journey into color, Lucia partnered with good friend and photographer Max Farago on a beautiful A-3 "moodbook" exploring the poetic and emotive power of the fiery hue. From blood red peonies, to naked flesh, wilting petals, ink clouds, paint splashes and more, the book offers an insight into Lucia's creative process and the intensive research behind the collection. "The Chanel beauty laboratory is like an adult's playground," Lucia says, her blue eyes lighting up. "They really believe in creativity, and it's such a privilege to be able to experiment with color in this way." From refracting light through an electric red Calla lily suspended in a tank of water, to melting candle wax together to create dreamy iridescent shades, the research process is as magical as it is mind-blowing, and not "just a study in pigments, but in feelings."

Coco Chanel used to say 'put your red lipstick on and attack.' She loved red because it was the color of life and blood. It's quite radical in that sense.

"I'm always thinking 'would I wear this?' 'How would this make me feel?'" Lucia says, and she is determined that the end product is always rooted in reality. "I really enjoy translating a concept from my mind into real life, but I always remember it ultimately has to go on a woman's face." Lucia tests potential new shades on herself and calls on her closest friends as her barometer. "Chloe [Kerman, former Fashion Editor turned healer] is one of my muses," she says. "The way she wears makeup always looks so elegant. No matter how much you put on her, she always looks beautiful. Fran [Burns, stylist and contributing Vogue Fashion Editor] is another. We talk every day; she's so intuitive and smart. She inspires me a lot. I'm always listening to what my girlfriends say, and how they react to things." Lucia and Chanel chose Kristen Stewart as the face of Le Rouge Collection N°1 because she shares the same independent punk spirit. "Kristen's very smart, she's not afraid to be herself, and I think that's attractive," Lucia says. "I think it's important for Chanel to have women of personality and strength in their campaigns."

As Global Creative Designer for Makeup and Color, Lucia travels from London to Paris twice a month, and is responsible for designing all of Chanel's beauty products, including four seasonal collections a year, and the beauty looks for all accompanying advertising campaigns. "I love that Chanel chose someone for the role who is part of the new generation," she says, "and that they chose a woman. It has meaning and it's refreshing." While the gravitas of her position hasn't changed her, Lucia is determined to keep her feet firmly on the ground. "I try not to think about the big name behind me," she confesses. "I'm trying to concentrate on what I feel."

Busy working on Chanel's spring/summer 18 collection, any spare time Lucia does have she dedicates to editorials for magazines such as i-D, Another, and American, British, and French Vogue. It is here that she works with good friends and long-term collaborators such as Alasdair McLellan, Willy Vanderperre and Angelo Pennetta. "The best work I have done is with the people I have a personal connection with," she says. "I love working with Alasdair, he captures the strength and beauty of a woman." Strength and beauty is something Lucia champions in her work too. "I'm a little tired of women telling other women how they should look," she says. "Celebrities saying 'if you don't contour or highlight your face, then you're not fully made up' — it's playing on women's insecurities. I want my collections to have a real sense of purpose. Makeup should be playful. Everyone is scared of doing something that's not obvious, and end up doing the same thing over and over again; contouring, highlights… But why not push your boundaries and your fears and experiment? After all, it comes off."  


Photography Zoe Ghertner 
Styling Marie Chaix 
Make-up Lucia Pica
Make-up Lucia Pica, Global Creative Designer for Make-up and Colour at Chanel, at Art Partner using Chanel Fall 2016, Le Rouge - Collection No.1. Hair Yannick D'Is at Management + Artists. Nail technician Alexandra Janowski at AIM Artlists using Chanel Le Gel Coat. Set design Nicolas Mur. Photography assistance Corentin Thevenet and Alexis Parrenin. Styling assistance Florie Vitse. Hair assistance Sadek L. Make-up assistance Camilla Romagnoli. Production Judith Bazin at Art Partner. Model Charlee Fraser at IMG.

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