We see eye to eye with Coco Chanel’s statement, as we trust beauty lies in anyone’s personal creative vision and in whatever artwork it may be translated into.
Hanna is a Norwegian photographer currently based in New York City who collaborated with an array of luxury brands (fashion, home, beauty) and magazines across the globe. Well-known for her fashion and still life photography, she recently interpreted the magazine’s Lipstick Issue, together with Chanel’s make-up artist Cyndle who created and captured her own make-up, in a spellbinding CHANEL-special editorial.
The artists turned the most common lipstick color: red, into the most striking element of their photography composition. Beyond the fact, red is the most associated color when it comes to lipstick and in beauty generally, those colorimetry and photography choices are far from meaningless. In fact, the artists managed to merge the house’s insight within their art. Indeed, by desaturating the visuals, 3 colors, dear to Coco Chanel, remain as centric elements of the composition to which the artists aimed at driving the viewer’s attention at.
1. Black: symbol of elegance, deepness, the number one element in the lining of an eyelid
2. White: the light, what is used to highlight the face, to uplift beauty.
3. Red: symbol of life, blood, what gives a healthy-glow effect, energy and provides a confident adornment,
for Coco Chanel.
In this series, the red, appears as the final touch in the beauty routine, as the one detail making a whole difference, as Chanel signature.
The still life photographer and CHANEL make-up artist showed the glamourness, coquetry, striking values of the house in two literal shots both centered around the red color:
1. The product together blended with a feather calls for a promise of a caress, an invitation for a an aerial Chanel soothing time. This invitation, is one more time sealed by the red color as a vow written and abstractly signed by Chanel, using a red lipstick.
2. Red and gold glitters are smoothly spread all over Cyndle's hand, she self-captured giving a sense of blur and fogginess. This shot echoes the fulfilment of the aforementioned promise. A literal representation of the effects and sensations to be felt when using a Chanel hand cream: her energy, her fire, her passion at the tip of your fingers.
Hanna and Cyndle managed to create a storytelling, to translate the promise of the house regarding a product in a word-to-word representation. This authenticity, in the making of the images and unvarnished approach, reflects by all means the personality of Chanel, who’s known for her honesty and for getting straight to the point when communicating ideas.
Substantial red lips are Chanel’s signature. They feature Chanel’s vision of courage and declaration of good spirit. The lipstick is here the secret weapon, the ultimate armour, the only thing women need to be strong and radiate.
Cyndle managed to visualise these ideas into a self-portrait close-up shot, focusing on her lips only. By putting aside her face and body, she delivers a very peculiar message to viewers, unveiling the “why's and how’s” of women’s captivating energy, telling viewers what has always been in front of their eyes, but yet couldn’t be seen... The source of women’s liveliness. The source of their inner fire. BOLD-RED-LIPS, drawn with a CHANEL lipstick, ready to speak up their minds.
For Chanel, coquetry is about being elegant, dressed and well-groomed in all circumstances. Elegance doesn’t need motives, nor does it need rational explanations. Coquetry is beauty for the sake of beauty.
1. “Art for art’s sake” to uphold Coco Chanel’s statement. Hanna doesn’t display CHANEL’s products: she stages them, as if they were belonging to an art exhibition. By doing so, the photographer devoids the make-up products from any goal pursue and connects with the audience on a higher level, calling for reflection and imagination.
2. The invitation is sustained and propelled by the white ribbon pointing at Chanel Beauty's items. The products are here presented through a sculptural layering made from a single product’s components. By doing so, Hanna elevates the items to the state of art, just for the pleasure of the eyes.
The two NY-based artists managed to convey a selfsame idea, “the emotion and loving-kindness in someone’s eyes”, within two distinct artistic representations:
1. Cyndle, through make-up art and a self-portrait, by creating a light, bright, pristine-like make-up, sustaining the honesty of her caring emotions and fondfull feelings.
2. Hanna, through still life photography, giving shape to the tenderness of Chanel Beauty products. The jasmin oil bottle personifies the gentle eyes looking straight at the viewer, yet only seeable and noticeable when the eyeshadow is placed behind. The glitter eyeshadow here seems to be the tool given by Chanel to reveal and sublimate beautiful intentions.
This photography association is an invitation from the artists to read through the make-up history from ancient days to nowadays. It appears, lips have only been on top of beauty standards for a short time. Beforehand, and so until the 60’s, eyes were the part of the face to accentuate, the center of beauty-rituals. Red and its derived shades, which we most of the time associate to lipstick, were colors used on the eyes in Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations, as the finishing touch completing an elegant look.
Chanel make-up artist winks at these antique make-up usages and routines, and modernise them by using a Chanel lipstick to create a disruptive make-up on her own eyes. By doing so she transfers the extreme intimate, seductive and speech powers of lipstick captured by Hanna, giving strength to the emotions conveyed by her eyes.
A few of the black and white photographs present in this rich collection are revealed as we believe it mirrors Gabrielle Chanel’s statement by creating a timeless, romantic, nostalgic visual impact.
The greyscale gives a feeling of a moment that has been captured a while ago, as a memory of a distant instant contrasting with technicolor present times. These monochrome pictures encourage viewers to read the images by injecting a certain beauty narrative into them. The lipstick is here showcased as a lifetime companion, part of a lifetime beauty ritual, that will never be running out of style.
“Some women continue to put make up the same way because it matches to their image of an ideal self; an ideal that was shaped at a time when they were beautiful”, quoted from Lipstick Issue. The lipstick is turned into a soothing object that, when applied, creates an intimate breach in time and space where women meet themselves. Here :
1. Hannah’s still life of a Chanel lipstick split in two, presented as the one object marking this rupture with time.
2. Cyndle’s make-up and self-portrait staring at the lipstick, as if captivated by its mirroring and projection virtues
This specific visual association (a perfectly made-up face and a close-up shot of a Chanel lipstick, which we assumed was used in the beautifying ritual) expresses how make-up holds a strong place in the way we read others. How, on one hand, it can perfectly support a look; how it can also tell a whole different story; how thin the elegance-vulgarity line is; how make-up, fashion and beauty standards come along..
“Small mouth symbolised elegance until 1930’s”; “in (..) aristocratic society (..) the accent was on the eyes”, quoted from the Lipstick Issue.
Those quotes imply that, whoever would carry out a different beauty makeover would not be seen as sophisticated nor elegant. This reminds us of the dictates of fashion, setting standards and turning in a snap the outdated style into the new vulgar archetype. The statement emanating from these pictures is as followed : make-up is as powerful as fashion, if not even more effective in terms of a refinement qualifier. Elegance therefore does not consist in putting on a new dress, it consists in putting on the right make-up, a Chanel make-up.
Many questions arise when it comes to beauty and particularly the use of make-up. What is make-up final purpose? Is make-up a discrete way to face others or is it a personal routine to feel good is our own skin?
Beauty remains today mostly ruled by society diktats and ever-changing trends. When people would tend to follow the latter as a way to fit in, the perception of beauty by Coco Chanel leans against the wind. Beauty is to her more a way to stand out, to assert oneself. Beauty is a statement rather than a hideout. It is regaining a certain control over one’s appearance and non verbal communication. It is a set of tools to tweak one’s message. And once that power is seized and used to serve one’s own objectives, one’s own desires, rather than others’; it allows you to show your true self to the eyes of the world. Beauty is thus being courageous enough to be different.
An attitude perfectly embodied by Cyndle self-portrait and Hanna still life photograph in this carrousel:
- Chanel make-up artist is at peace with her natural yet made-up beauty complexion.
- She shut her eyes as a way to free herself from others.
- She shows how empowering the Chanel-make-up products can be.
Still life photographer Hanna Tveite came up with a graphic carousel in which she magnified the said-oil, thus living up to Coco Chanel’s very own words. Jasmine is one of the luxury house’s emblematic flowers. It is a plant which nobleness lies not only in the countless benefit properties it abounds of but also in its humbleness as the plant shows absolutely no color.
Hanna Tveite placed the Chanel bottle on and in front of vivid-coloured decors as a way to set forth the beauty gem to everyone sight. She thus presented a product that for long time was known only by a narrow group of “insiders”, as women’s must have care elixir.
These pictures gather numerous symbols of the passion enunciated by Coco Chanel:
- The red color : the color that embodies it all. Whether life or death, love or war.. A color that most of the time is associated to blood. The blood that flushes in one’s veins as the heart race speeds up. The blood that tints the lips with its color. An hypnotic, vivid, salient color that instantly draws intention. A color relative to the heart and its feelings: love and… passion.
- The lips : with which sirens would sing to bewitch sailors. From where sweet words are being told. The most ambivalent body part: on one hand, they allow for once the spirit to seduce vs. the body; on the other hand, they initiate carnal relationships through the kiss. A kiss, the expression of passion.
- The lipstick: enhancing women’s lips. Probably the oldest beauty products of all. An object that was long banished by religions. Banished, forbidden, poorly looked because one was not to change the physical appearance attributed by God. Forbidden, so were seduction and passion. Passion, a powerful and impulsive feeling perfectly imaged by Hanna still life picture.
Although the perception of red lipstick and red lips has evolved throughout the years, it appears it is still strongly associated to seduction. Seduction as the matchstick that starts the passion fire.
Coco Chanel defining beauty statement aims at making women focus on their personal feeling and experience of lipsticks rather than the product color itself that may be standardized by society. By shooting the self-portrait in black and white, the two artists deprived viewers from the “finished” result and thus took away viewers’ power of approval, criticism and judgement. The idea of beauty here only belongs to the woman who applied the lipstick on. She is the only one knowing how this color looks on her face, she is the only one to say whether it does look good or not. Beauty belongs to her and herself only. A personal experience that is today digitally translated by CHANEL Beauty who, thanks to its LIPSCANNER app, enables women to try lipstick colours on and judge the look of it on their own.
In this selection two of CHANEL most iconic beauty products: La Crème Main and Huile de Jasmin. Two signature products elaborated with hand-picked flowers cultivated in the house's very own fields located in Grasse, South of France. Two products enclosing countless caring and regenerative properties contributing to women’s beauty. Two beauty items marking the beginning and the end of every beauty and care routine. These are milestones of CHANEL Beauty offer range, yet their packaging remains sober, simple, small.
This gets one’s wander what idea lies behind these design choices: modesty. Coco Chanel’s vision of beauty and elegance. The power of actions over statements. Letting the product express itself rather than telling its story. The untold is said with sobriety. The product is noticed and stands out naturally. Hanna Tveite here expresses and testifies this idea of sobriety in her still life photography composition.
Not only a beauty choice, not only a beauty trick, not only a will to give a new purpose to CHANEL Beauty's lipsticks, but before and after all a bold statement. An ode to women’s emancipation. A strike against uniformisation. A call to stand out, an invitation to assert our own singularities and be unique. Therefore irreplaceable.