At first glance, the world’s oldest desert may appear barren. A hostile landscape, filled with undulating dunes. Look deeper and it offers an inimitable domain where light and texture change with every moment. This is where Lucia Pica, global creative makeup and color designer for Chanel, set out to find inspiration for the maison’s SS20 makeup collection, Desert Dream. “I was looking for something poetic, like a memory – a natural filter that makes everything look dreamier,” begins Pica. Embarking on an expedition into an ancient desert with her photographer, they set out to discover the secrets of this formidable landscape.
For this journey, Pica chose to work with a Polaroid camera to bring the colors of the environment to life. “I thought we would see a lot of strong colors in the desert, but in reality, it’s a vast nothingness, covered with semi-precious rocks that have been shaped by the wind over time,” she says. Ever on the lookout for innovative colors – not the obvious yellow and oranges so often connoted with the desert – she came across a more muted palette. “The energy in the desert was very calm and virtually silent,” she reflects. “The muted colors of the desert and the muted tones of Polaroid came together to create a palette that exemplifies calm.”
Initially imagining that she would discover these colors in the desert’s dunes and lunar plains, Pica was soon drawn to the smaller details that became abstract with her camera. “Pink quartz lying on the ground, for example, giving off a shimmery pink light in the sun that immediately made me think of an eyeshadow or illuminating powder,” she says. “Those combinations of pinks, purples, and mauves opened up into gray-brown and peach, creating an entirely new color range.” This was then developed into textures with a combination of matte and shimmer prevalent throughout the collection.
“It’s an all-over sun-kissed look,” Pica says. “It’s really fresh and glowing.” Her hero product, Éclat Du Désert, features the contours of the desert’s dunes. The pink-beige highlighter is to be used on the areas on the face where the sun would naturally strike first. Sweep it high on the cheeks, across the forehead, along the bridge of the nose, and finish with a light dusting on the chin. To accentuate the skin with a touch of golden light, Baume Essentiel comes into play. Use it sparingly, warming the creamy texture with your fingertips and adding to these same areas, or apply across the eyelids and lips for a soft, shimmering effect.
For the eyes, Les 4 Ombres showcases the collection’s key shades. Upon opening the glossy black packaging, you will spy mauve, cold brown, peach, and light pink. “I wanted these colors to evoke a calm state of mind, but they are not neutral,” explains Pica. Worn alone, they are what she calls “quiet eye shades,” subtle and sophisticated. As an artist, her love for blending and layering allows for these colors to be transformed. Stylo Ombre Et Contour in a coffee bean brown or intense rosy mauve can be used to line the eyes or blended into the perfect base for the Les 4 Ombres palette shadows to pop.
For those looking for a more intense look, the creamy metal formula of Ombre Première Laque offers peach to burnt mauve tones. “You can apply that all over the lid with the wand as a liquid eyeshadow, or use the paler tones as a form of highlighter, adding a little accent of light here and there for intensity; brightening and opening,” suggests Pica. This intensity follows through to the lips. The hallucinogenic heat of the desert metamorphosed into a creamy orange-pink for Rouge Allure, which, upon layering, becomes increasingly vivid. Rouge Allure Velvet Extreme, on the other hand, embraces a warmer rosewood tone to suit every skin shade.
To complete the collection, she created opaque nail colors in milky-mauve emulsions. Titled Daydream and Mirage, they were pulled from the depths of Pica’s Polaroid prints. “The extremity of the desert forced me towards a less overt palette, a kind of sub-color,” explains Pica. For Pica, who is forever challenging herself and her perceptions of environments, this range is one of her softest and most feminine. “In the process of making these collections, you are exploring yourself all the time. You have to trust your feelings, sensations, and intuition. Sometimes it elicits something bold, sometimes it’s something intense. But the SS20 collection feels reconciled.”
Originally published in the January 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia