Red lip­stick is a given, but red eye­liner? It’s happening


Not ev­ery makeup artist de­serves the ti­tle “artist”— tech­ni­cian is some­times more fit­ting—but Lu­cia Pica is up there with the Cindy Sher­mans and Tracey Emins of the world. Known for her avant­garde work in in­die mags like i-D and Love, and on the run­way for fear­less de­sign­ers such as Peter Pilotto and Henry Hol­land, Pica was tapped by Chanel to head up its makeup di­vi­sion in 2014—a ma­jor coup for the Ital­ian-born Lon­doner.

Tasked with de­sign­ing her de­but makeup col­lec­tion for the ven­er­a­ble house—which re­leased its first red lip­stick more than 90 years ago—Pica de­cided to ex­per­i­ment with the colour red, which she says she’s been drawn to her whole life. “It’s a colour that has the power to change the way you feel,” she ex­plains. It’s also the colour of much of her right arm, which she doesn’t men­tion but takes no pains to hide as we pre­view the col­lec­tion to­gether in Lon­don.

While at the draw­ing board, Pica con­sid­ered how to link the ul­ti­mate clas­sic colour to a feel­ing of free­dom. En­list­ing the help of her cre­ative friends— pho­tog­ra­pher Max Farago, set de­signer Andy Hill­man and di­rec­tor Clara Cullen—Pica in­jected red paint into a tank of wa­ter and pho­tographed it

as it mor­phed; she made a short art film fea­tur­ing fly­ing sheets of red pa­per; she played with trans­parency and hue and any­thing else she could think of to make a beau­ti­ful, slightly sub­ver­sive se­ries of art­works. “We had this fan­tas­tic four days find­ing new colours and new tex­tures,” she says.

It’s un­usual— and de­light­ful— to see such a thor­ough ex­plo­ration of ab­stract ideas in the world of makeup. “I think it’s in­ter­est­ing to show how much thought is be­hind ev­ery­thing at a lux­u­ri­ous brand like Chanel,” Pica ex­plains. She trans­lated her cre­ative ex­plo­ration into six lip­sticks, two lip pen­cils, a blush, a palette of four matte eye­shad­ows (the brand’s first mat­tes, which took a year to perfect) and a red nail gloss that was clearly born from that study in trans­parency. Pica ap­plied ev­ery item in the col­lec­tion on Kris­ten Ste­wart for the cam­paign im­ages, in­clud­ing the weirdly flat­ter­ing crim­son eye­liner. “Kris­ten told me that she wears red liner to look more in­tense,” says Pica. “It shows a lit­tle travel, a lit­tle mys­tery. She was telling me that all her favourite ac­tresses did that.”

To state the ob­vi­ous, an en­tire face of red makeup is in­tim­i­dat­ing—but Pica is on a mis­sion to dis­pel our fears. “Your face nat­u­rally pro­duces the colour, so it’s in­ter­est­ing to bring red out in difffff­fer­ent places,” she says. “Not only on the lips, but around the eyes, in­side the eyes on the lash lines and on the cheeks.” She likes to dust a lit­tle red blush on the ap­ples of the cheeks and blend it into a tri­an­gle shape. “It looks like it nat­u­rally hap­pened—like you just went through something and you blushed,” she ex­plains with a smile. “And if you have hazel eyes with a bit of yel­low and green in them, red eye­shadow makes your eyes brighter,” she con­tin­ues. “There is this trans­for­ma­tion that hap­pens.”

Now that’s art.

“Peo­ple have been ask­ing me, ‘Were you in­spired by vam­pires for the red col­lec­tion?’ I wasn’t re­ally go­ing for that. If any­thing it was a fash­ion mem­ory of the ’90s and Peter Lind­bergh’s pho­tographs of the su­per­mod­els with big dark lips and shiny faces.”

NAILED IT “This looks like a lip gloss but it’s ac­tu­ally for the nails. It’s trans­par­ent, but it’s still that clas­sic, pul­sat­ing red.” ICON IN­SPO “Coco Chanel used to say, ‘Red is the colour of life, of blood.’” COLOUR THE­ORY “I wanted to ex­per­i­ment—to do a re­ally deep study into this colour and have an emo­tional, ab­stract re­sponse to it. I was in­ter­ested in how colours trans­form through the light an d through pho­tographs,” s sasa sa y ys Pi ica (left). The re­sult: the three art­works pic­tured here.

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