She made her name with eye-popping avant-garde makeup (think intense jewel-toned eyeshadow painted heavily over a thick cat eye). The Business of Fashion has her down as a power player to watch, citing the Italian makeup artist’s modern and ingenious use of colour. Her debut collection for Chanel was a sumptuous red affair, with lush scarlet lipsticks and a cherry eyeliner that kick-started a major trend. There’s no doubt: Lucia Pica loves colour. The brighter, the better.
It’s a passion that dates back to her teenage years. Recounting a field trip to Solfatara, a sulphur-spewing volcanic crater near her home city of Naples, she says: “It was a vast space with a mythical feel to it. And I remember being really fascinated by the colour around the rocks created by all the gas coming out.” She adds wryly: “Of course, back then I couldn’t transform that colour into anything.”
Twenty-odd years later, Pica is now turning her vision into tangible creations as Chanel’s global creative makeup and colour designer. She professes to “seeing colours for makeup everywhere”. So when she decided to come up with a new collection of vivid, eye-catching shades, she returned to a place she knew to be a source of endless inspiration. “I can close my eyes and feel the energy and see the colours of Naples. I knew I could make a really strong and bright collection if I went there,” she says.
Steeped in history, myth and the influence of artists like Caravaggio and Solimena, Naples for Pica is a city with palpable intensity and energy. “It’s also a city of contrasts, between the antique and baroque, the mysterious darkness and the clear Mediterranean sky, the volcanic rock and crystalline water. All these energies are very much present in the city and its art, architecture, in the air, in the attitude of the people. And this is what I wanted to translate using my vocabulary of colours, textures and makeup application,” explains the effortlessly chic 40-year-old.
The resulting collection is named Neapolis (meaning “new city”) to represent the idea of combining the old with the new. Using seemingly random yet scenic images of Naples shot by two photographer friends, Pica sets about transposing the city’s vibrant – at times fleeting – colours into lipsticks, eyeshadows and more. “I try everything on and try to find the right undertone that will work best on every skin type,” she says. “My hope is that women will be open and spontaneous with the colours. They are ‘buildable’, so you can wear a subtle wash or create a more intense effect.”