to celebrate her new appointment, we chat beauty with lucia pica, the make-up artist taking our faces into a dynamic new era
"Make-up is a powerful tool and a wonderful way of enhancing your beauty. While it can give you a confidence boost, it should never become a crutch or a mask to hide behind." Lucia Pica
In these body-centric modern times, it's worth reminding ourselves what was always the focal point of great, influential beauty: the face. It's how we communicate ourselves and our first chance to make an impression. Make-up artist Lucia Pica is part of the relatively small group of people responsible for the changing faces of our time, whose ever-evolving face art - because that's literally what it is - sets the agenda for the way in which we shape and mould our faces to look modern, make certain impressions, and portray our personalities "I like to think that when I work there is a certain harmony in my use of colours and textures that can be translated into a woman's everyday life, that something I do might inspire someone to try something new and experiment with products in a different way to announce their beauty," Lucia says, on the eve of her shoot for i-D. "Fashion magazines especially offer a constant source of inspiration, and I like the idea of a woman seeing a look that I have created and it giving her the confidence to try it out herself. I think it's the best way to discover new things, like trying out a bolder lip colour. It can make you feel empowered." The power of the face is illustrated to perfection in Lucia's most memorable work, which includes images such as Jourdan Dunn's i-D cover, also photographed by Alasdair McLellan, from Winter 2011. You know the one: Jourdan stripped back in a black roll neck, shot on a pink backdrop with a matching pink eye shadow, a dramatically lined eye, matte red lips and yellow nail varnish. Pica was behind Eliza Cummings' i-D beauty story from Spring 2013: a series of graphic eyes on a blood red backdrop. "They all really portray my woman," Lucia says. "Where strong meets sophisticated with a feminine feel."
Lucia was born in Naples in 1976, and had her first experience of make-up at an early age, watching her mother's daily beauty regimen. "She always had a ritual of applying lipstick and dabbing a little on her cheeks. That's a little habit that's rubbed off on me now, too," she says. Like most teenagers, Lucia founded her relationship with make-up through trial and error. "I used to wear more make-up than ever when I was 16. I'd wear a [different] look to school every day, from emo to 90s to full-on Versace glam. When I was younger I really went for that thin, 90s brow look. I used to pluck my brows until there was almost nothing left," she recalls. "That's the danger of following trends, I guess! Luckily, I made it back."
Fifteen years ago Lucia moved to London to pursue make-up art, a dream she says takes painstaking focus, willingness, and hard work from anyone who desires it. After a course at Greasepaint Make-up Academy, Lucia began assisting to gain experience. "I approached all the biggest agencies until my persistence paid off, and I was offered the opportunity to work on the teams of make-up artists, such as Charlotte Tilbury." She assisted Tilbury for a few seasons before eventually becoming her first assistant for three years, and finally going solo. Now, as part of Chanel's gang of UK make-up artists, a brand which she says transcends time and generations. "I think that because Coco Chanel herself was such a strong, aspirational woman, she really paved the way for a kind of beauty that lets the real woman shine through." It's a philosophy that characterises Lucia's body of work and her views on the role make-up should play in this day and age. "It's a powerful tool and a wonderful way of enhancing one's beauty, giving oneself a confidence boost, but I don't think it should ever become a crutch or a mask to hide behind," Lucia says. "Whether the look is natural or more pushed, I like to retain the modernity and character of the woman in my work, because as a woman I want to be able to relate to the woman I portray. Growing up I always liked the looks of Isabella Rossellini, Nastassja Kinski in Paris, Texas, and Patty Pravo. It's the idea of being kind of imperfect but still glamorous and cool." Though it may sound counterintuitive for a make-up artist, an appreciation of natural beauty is at the root of Lucia's work, and it's something that goes beyond the realm of beauty. She lists her mother as one of her greatest teachers, emphasising her love of simplicity. "She has a great way of seeing things in a simple, uncomplicated way. She's very much a grounding force when I get all dreamy and romantic about literally everything," she says, laughing. "That philosophy carries through to her make-up routine as well." But in a fashion and entertainment world that always seems to be calling for more, Lucia says less really is more. "Sometimes women can get the wrong vision of themselves and cover more than they need to. I often think you can significantly reduce the amount of those products you use and still have a flawless effect," Lucia notes. "But I do think the market seems to be going that way, too, in terms of bases and formulas. You can find lighter textured foundations and concealers as well as products that promote wellbeing in the skin, such as mineral bases and powders." They're weighty words, coming from someone whose job it is to dress up and decorate our faces. But as Lucia would no doubt agree, sometimes the ultimate personal expression lies in your own true self.
Photography Alasdair McLellan
Styling Jonathan Kaye
Make-up Lucia Pica
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Hair Anthony Turner at Art Partner.
Nail technician Trish Lomax at Jed Root using Les Rouges Culte de Chanel and Body Excellence Hand Cream.
Photography assistance Lex Kembery, James Robjant, Matthew Healy.
Styling assistance Max Ortega Govela.
Hair assistance David Harborow.
Make-up assistance Siobhan Furlong.
Executive producer Lucy Johnson at Art Partner.
Production manager Graham McLoughlin.
Retouching Output. Model Vanessa Axente at VIVA London.
Special thanks to Spring Studios.
Vanessa wears all clothing Chanel Resort 15. Make-up throughout Chanel Les 4 Ombres, Rouge Allure Lip Colour and Perfection Lumiere Velvet.