A conversation, something she’s read, a team-brainstorming session, or even time recharging the imagination — for Lucia Pica, Chanel’s global creative makeup & colour designer, anything can spark the inspiration for her annual colour collection. Her latest work finds its creative catalyst just across our borders — in the Namib desert. Never afraid to share her process, she happily chats about the photographic research that she undertakes each year to produce the hugely anticipated mood boards underpinning her work.
Pica is known for pushing the boundaries of makeup, with a knack for finding new hues in almost anything as well as choosing the right texture for the right colour. She’s found inspiration everywhere — from her home town of Naples to the fish markets of Shibuya in Japan — but it’s the harsh climate and terrain of the Namib that have manifested her softest colour collection yet.
For Pica, the desert was exactly where she wanted to be, fuelled by an article she read about a woman traversing the desert by foot. “This collection is very much representing my experience that I had in Namibia while in the desert, and in Africa in general. You have this kind of muteness and softness in the light, sometimes in the spaces, and especially in Namibia, you have vastness, emptiness, silence and stillness — so I was taken by that,” she says.
During her research trips, the cosmetic guru’s weapon of choice is usually a digital camera. It yields crisp imagery that makes colour seem to leap off the page. Inspired by the tonality of Namibia, however, she chose to switch to film for the first time. Armed with the dreamy, soft filtering of a Polaroid camera, one photographer and a small plane, Pica traded her bold, saturated aesthetic for a palette that is more muted and romantic.
The resulting spring/summer 2020 collection, Desert Dream, redefines the neutral palette with a lively display of iridescent, earthy tones and textures inspired by the arid landscape. As she observes, “With the medium of Polaroid, it became apparent to me that it was predominantly one colour, which was the mauve represented a little bit everywhere, even in the taupe ground. I expected to find a different type of palette. I thought I was going to find more rusty and red browns — I really expected a completely different collection.”
It’s this mauve tone, reminiscent of naturally occurring rose quartz, that is both the undertone of the collection and gives its neutral palette a modern and fresh interpretation that is super wearable.
The offering is also Pica’s ode to nature, interpreting its strength, stillness, and fragility at the same time. “The collection is very much based on nature and earthiness and I feel like this is a huge topic right now. So I think it definitely feels relevant. It really is about that sense of contentment, an inner state of calm, stillness, and appreciation of beautiful nature.”
Endless kilometres of sand conquered, where will Pica’s research expeditions take her next? “I really don’t know — I’m not that organised. I think something needs to happen in my life or I need to read something or I need to come up with something. I don’t like to be so structured, to be honest,” she says.
• From the March issue of Wanted 2020.