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.