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Lucia Pica, the art of chiaroscuro

May 21th

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Chanel's spring-summer 2019 makeup collection is inspired by a trip to Asia from Seoul to Tokyo. The Global Creative Designer for Makeup and Colour for Chanel has seen in some minute details of everyday life, unexpected beauty and light effects that inspired the collection. Lucia Pica is adept at makeup that embellishes, which illuminates: she refuses to camouflage. In an interview, she talks about her vision of beauty and these essential gestures that change a lot, sometimes even the mood. - Isabelle Cerboneschi, Paris.

When I first saw the latest spring-summer 2019 make-up collection created by Lucia Pica, the Global Creative Designer for Makeup and Chanel Colour, I thought of this excerpt from Tanizaki's Shadow Praise. Among the nine colours of the eye-shadow palette, there is the gold powder and then all the shades of darkness that come in counterpoint, one revealing the others.

Is it the fact that she grow up in Naples that gave her a taste of brightening the faces as if the sun was playing the role of chief operator, and counterbalancing this brilliance with saturated colours and daring shades, even allowing to show the red of the cheeks? Lucia Pica is part of a new generation of makeup artists who dare to play with colour iconoclastically.

Since her appointment in 2014, Lucia Pica has been seeking inspiration in more or less distant places. There was his " r In California, behind the 2017-18 fall-winter collection, and recently on a trip to Asia, between Seoul and Tokyo, from which she brought back everyday images of a strange beauty. From these photos taken in a fish market, in the purple sky covered with electric cables, in a bush of flowers, she made a collection that comes to put light on a corner of skin and subtly modify the architecture of a face. She has seen in fugitive colors colors to exploit, seeking inspiration in the tiny. The collection is called "Vision of Asia: the art of detail" and it is not by chance.

IC: What are you looking for during these inspirational journeys?
Lucia Pica: It's been several seasons since I made road-trips to make portraits of cities, to find inspirations. But when I found myself in Tokyo and Seoul, I realized that the question was no longer about landscape images, but about focusing on something else. This culture is all about details and that's where we need to focus. With the photographer, we started to walk, to lead almost a normal life, we went to the market, but to see textures. And little by little, we realized that the art of everyday life in this culture is something sacred. From the packaging used to put the food, to the garbage cans, which have incredible colors, everything seems to have been organized as for an exhibition. We no longer think of these objects as normal things. That's why I called this collection " L’art du détail ».

Is this collection supposed to be a balance between shade and light?
In Asia, when I watched the games of light and shadow, I wondered how to re-create that on a face. How to structure and sculpt a face, but in a subtle way, with effects of brilliance, as if the light came from inside? And it should not look like a mask, all those thick contouring products. If you look at the pictures we made during our trip, you will see that they capture moments of life. The details become abstract, like a contemporary painting. The photographs translate very well the textures that I wanted for this collection. The " Baume Essentiel For example, is my favourite product. It moisturises and brings radiance. I like to use it alone because it brings a freshness but you can use it on your face, on your eyes, on your lips on your makeup, on an eyeshadow, in small touches on the face to illuminate. Sometimes in the evening, if I wear makeup, I wear it over my makeup. I like these products that capture light and make makeup something more abstract.

The new collection is a mix of matte and shiny colors: the lips are matte and the cheeks shiny. When you think about it, it's the exact opposite of what women have done for decades: they wanted a matte skin and bright lips. How did we get there ?
Because we want to look sophisticated and glamorous, while looking real. A woman who chooses our products wants her skin to be embellished, but without covering it. It's about expressing who you are with colors and textures. But while having a perfect skin.

And why this desire for shine today?
What if it was to look healthy, happy and fresh? We want our emotions to transpire. Even a businesswoman does not need to show how strong and untouchable she is. We work, we are strong, but we are vulnerable too. I feel like that. I am not ashamed to show that I am happy, sad, or a little embarrassed. It's nice to have some red on your cheeks. Vulnerability is a force.

You are a big user of matte colors, on the varnish, the lips, the eyes. What effect do you look for on a face?
The mat absorbs the color, but at the same time, it's very chic. The color is deeper and I like that.

I wonder why we still talk about "eye shadows"? Sometimes make-ups do the opposite by adding light to the eye ...
Some can still be shadows: it is a mixture of shadow and light, colours, accents. Eye shadows have evolved a lot. We could indeed change that word ...

Do you consider yourself a cinematographer, a painter, a person who emphasizes beauty?
I would say that I try to emphasize beauty and that I am a dreamer. I believe everything is possible.

Have you ever dreamed of colors?
Ideas sometimes come to me at random, in day dreams or in inspiration from nowhere. Sometimes when I prepare a collection, I get up in the morning and know exactly what I'm going to do.

You've created a bright pink nail color called "Neon" and I noticed, during the 2019 spring-summer fashion show, that some accessories were of the same color. But the time it takes to create a line of beauty and a collection of ready-to-wear is not the same. Was it a coincidence?
We were very lucky! We work a year and a half in advance. The process is much slower. Ideas travel ...

You told me that in Japan you had been confronted with this notion of "wabi sabi", the art of imperfection, and that you tried to interpret it in this collection. But it is quite the opposite of the tutorials on the internet where we see a person transform through a very thick makeup that camouflages and transforms the features. Your way of doing things, is it a kind of resistance to this artificial beauty?
I did not choose to resist something: I do what I believe in. I do not speak about the art of "wabi sabi" in the sense that my makeup would be imperfect. Make-up must become part of your personality, of yourself, with all your imperfections. It's about improving someone's beauty and not turning everyone into an ideal of beauty. I create products for women who accept themselves. The tutorials are fascinating, but can sometimes be scary.

I like the idea that you catch details during your travels and that you use everything you've seen to create your collections. Japan is a bridge between the past and the future, Korea is already the future, what were the most fruitful moments of this last epic journey?
To be honest, we spent five hours in the fish market photographing these shiny textures. I said to the photographer, "Look, it's like a gloss! ". And she said, "It's just a fish." It was so fascinating to spend time in these places, day and night. Everything was so intense, so beautiful, even the trivial details. Everything I saw around me, it became makeup. When you spend a little time on something and yourself, let everything else go, get rid of stress, you reset yourself. You are updating the way you look at things. That's what I do during these trips. The colors of a place are part of the culture of the country. What changes is the way I look at them and what I do with what I've seen. The idea behind this collection was not just to create a new lipstick for the sake of it. It was to remain receptive to what is happening.

Many makeup textures have been invented recently: what could be next?
We are always looking for lighter textures that are easy to use but produce a nice effect. For example, we created a foundation launched this spring called " L’Eau de Teint ". I worked closely with the labs to achieve this texture. I wanted something super translucent, like a second skin: a moisturizing and watery foundation, not fat, but that would also have a smoothing effect. It's like a moisturizing water containing foundation bubbles. You press a little product on the hand, you mix it with a brush and you apply it on the skin. And it's fresh! It's really unbelievable. This is my first foundation, even if it is closer to an embellisher. I told you that I liked beautiful transparent and perfect skins.

In the first palette you created for Chanel in 2016, the brown was a little red, the beige was a little gray. You play with colors in a very special way.
I play a lot with shades, so that the color is not flat but it is deep. There are so many colors that you can mix! When I choose the one I want to get, I send it to the lab, it comes back to me, I check it, I send it back and we continue this process until the result is exactly the way I wanted it. A silver, for example, can become blue very easily gold I always try to go the other way and get rid of blue.

You have created La Palette Essentielle In August 2017. A "four in one" product: lipstick, blush, highlighter and concealer. How did you get this idea?
I had this idea by thinking about beauty essentials. I wanted to create an easy to use and multifunctional product. I wanted to put in a box everything I needed to create the type of skin I love: fresh, natural and radiant. We do not want to carry all our makeup bag in our bags, when we go out at night. I designed this product so that a perfect concealer, a cheek and lip color and an illuminator can be placed in one box. With this product, you can quickly touch up your makeup before an occasion. I am so happy to have created it! I can not live without him anymore. My mother was putting a little lipstick on her mouth and cheeks. She needed to be quick because she had four children, but she still wanted to look fresh. It's a gesture that followed me, I think ...

What is the object of beauty without which you can not live?
Lipstick of course! But in summer I wear only mascara.

What is your little hidden beauty secret?
To sleep ! (to laugh). I told you all my little tricks: you put a little mascara in the morning and you look awake, a little colour on your cheeks and your lips and you look happier. But I also like this beauty that comes from within, when you meditate, that have reflexology done. When you just take care of yourself.

"Lacquerware decorated with gold is not meant to be seen in brilliant light or with a single glance, but should be left in a dark place, a part here and part there picked up by a faint light. It's florid pattern receding conjuring an inexpressible aura of depth and mystery, of overtones but partly suggested. The sheen of the lacquer set out in the night, reflects the wavering candlelight announcing the drafts that find their way from time to time into the quite room luring one into a state of reverie

- "Praise of the shadow" of Junichirô Tanizaki