Volcanoes, Frescoes And Fishing Nets: How Naples Inspired Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2018 Cosmetics
Though she moved away from her hometown of Naples at the age of 22 to pursue makeup artistry, Lucia Pica, global creative makeup and colour designer for Chanel, often finds herself saying she never really left. “It’s where I feel I belong the most,” she says from a 19th-century villa overlooking the Posillipo coast.
Now based in London, Pica drew inspiration from her own memories of growing up in the southern Italian city as well as the history of the metropolis itself to create the brand’s Spring/Summer 2018 cosmetics. “In many ways, this is a love letter to the city. I’m so enamoured with it,” she says.
With its diverse cultural influences—from the Romans, the Byzantines and the Spanish—Naples is known as a city of contrasts, and this is also revealed in its geography. “There’s the clear green-blue water opposed to the impetuous volcanic rock of Vesuvius,” says Pica of the famous mountain that last erupted in 1944, “the mystical opposed to the vibrating energy of the city.” That liveliness, apparent in everything from the architecture to the attitude of the people, is what Pica sought to capture.
“I wanted to get all of this and translate it into my language, which is, of course, colour, texture and makeup,” she says. Though she feels such an inherent closeness to Naples that all she has to do is close her eyes to see and “feel” its colours, Pica took two photographers and a director with her to shoot the region. “I wanted to look at it through different eyes,” she says. The group visited places from Pica’s childhood as well as locations “where [she] just liked the spirit of the city.”
Once the photos were printed, Pica and her team studied them and began to zero in on certain things. Some were immediately obvious, like the forest-green-stained crack on a statue pedestal that she knew would be the colour of an eyeliner. The shot of fluffy fishing nets heaped on top of light blue rope—taken on the island of Procida, where Pica took trips on Sundays with her father and brother—didn’t reveal it’s cosmetic interpretation as quickly.
“Lipgloss came out of that,” she says, referring to a sheer pale blue that when layered over a bright lipstick creates a new muted hue. The pink tone of the hazy skyline at dusk gave birth to a nail polish, the metallic black-blue door at Gesù Nuovo church is the colour of a mascara and the black volcanic ash from the island of Vulcano inspired another eyeliner.
The photos of Pompeian frescoes gave rise to an idea rather than a colour: Pica took the ancient technique of using pigment powder mixed with water and applying it to damp plaster and interpreted it into lip palettes. Poudre à Lèvres comes with a clear balm that is topped with a tinted pressed lip powder to create a velvety matte mouth. “It takes you back and reminds you of what the artists used to do,” she says.
That a beauty product was inspired by faded paintings is a nod to one of the things that continues to intrigue Pica about Naples: its deterioration. “Things are still a bit fatiscente, which means ‘rundown,’” she says about the city. “There’s such beauty in imperfection. That’s something I’m always into.”