The matter of firsts is deeply intentional at Chanel. The sentiment takes into account the maison’s inception in 1910, as well as the essence of trailblazing that has defined and shaped the brand since. It begs the question: does innovation pose more of a conundrum for entities that are rich in history, stories, and character? Or does it work in their favour? In the case of Chanel, it seems the latter holds true. This year alone proves to be a landmark one with the unveiling of Tweed de Chanel, a high jewellery interpretation of Chanel’s trademark fabric. Not forgetting, of course, a prolific runway presentation held in Dakar, Senegal—its first in the African continent. And that’s far from all. In 2023, Chanel’s beauty arm broke new ground with the launch of 31 Le Rouge; a lipstick that wholly embodies the spirit and philosophy of the maison in both form and function.
“Lipstick is without a doubt the most emblematic cosmetic product of all time for women, regardless of nationality and culture,” states Sylvie Legastelosis, director of packaging creation and graphic identity at Chanel. “It is a product dating back almost 5,000 years. We have recreated this almost banal everyday object, but provided it with all the House values of luxury and creation. We wanted to incorporate durability concerns, as it was important for us to make it a new model of luxury with different materials and usage, elevating it to the level of a future icon.”
View this post on Instagram
Every facet of 31 Le Rouge reflects meticulous thought and craftsmanship, from the crisp ‘click’ issued with the opening and closing of each lipstick to its intuitive refill mechanism that snaps new bullets seamlessly into place. As with each exquisite couture creation from the house, every aspect of a Chanel product serves a dedicated purpose and comes together in harmonious amalgamation to deliver a luxurious new experience.
The making of a masterpiece
It is apparent at first glance that the 31 Le Rouge is a love letter to Chanel. The flacon housing its intriguing formula conspicuously sets it apart from Chanel’s other rouge variants; a square, faceted glass case that pays homage to the mirrors that line the art deco staircase at 31 Rue Cambon, the label’s titular residence that houses Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment, workshops, haute couture salons and boutique. Its various other elements, too, borrow the sensibilities of fragrances and jewellery that came before, from the iconic Chanel No. 5 spray with its golden ring to a quilting motif from the Coco Crush jewellery collection.
“We started with the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and we have interpreted it with our own vision, our emotions and our sensitivity to create an object that projects us into the future. Mademoiselle was simultaneously creative, audacious and strong, but also acknowledged her vulnerable side,” elucidates Nathalie Lasnet, vice president of the make-up creation studio at Chanel.
Indeed, the embracing of such paradoxes shines through in 31 Le Rouge. It boasts long-wear capabilities, but also moisturising benefits and a luminous, high-shine finish. Its utilisation of glass feels cool and imposing to touch, but warms in the sun and disappears in the light. Its shade range emphasises vivacity and high-octane pigment, but without compromising on versatility or complexion-enhancement.
One for the books
If it seems that the 31 Le Rouge has all the makings of a disruptive force within the sphere, it is because it set out to do just that right from the get-go. “It is the first lipstick to incorporate both immediate and long-term effects while guaranteeing an intense makeup result,” states Nathalie Volpe, international director of innovation, research, and development at Chanel. “31 Le Rouge had to have everything, had to be able to do everything, and offer everything.”
It is a tall order that took over four years to achieve, a fearless venture and exploration of what Chanel stands for—and what it hopes to be—through its key mediums of fashion, beauty and jewellery. And with that, it seems the house has acquired another feather in its cap: the immortalisation of an entire legacy within a slim vessel made of glass and gold.
Beauty director: Alli Sim
Producers: David Bay
Director of photography: Ben Siow
Art Assistant: Sandra Sek
Associate beauty editor: Emily Heng
Hair: Yuhi Kim
Make-up: Kenneth Chia
Make-up assistant: Natalie Dykes
Nails: Felicia Widjaya
Camera assistant: Leonard Lim
Key grip: De Souza Jeremy
Lighting: Abdul Siddiq, Gabriel Lim, Zhang Jia Pei, and Shun Rong
Production assistants: Jeremiah Cheong
Beauty Intern: Valecia Lee
Models: Lotte Bella Tscharntke | Mannequin Studio, Sophia Begum | Mannequin Studio, Kaimin Hu