Credit: Chanel

To say that the camellia is important to Chanel is a bit of an understatement. Gabrielle Chanel’s favourite flower was the camellia, and it is in virtually every category of the brand today. From details and motifs in haute couture and high jewellery, to the paper camellias that adorn Chanel shopping bags. The latest and most important variety of this flower is the red camellia japonica, nicknamed ‘The Czar’ – the key ingredient at the heart of the new Nº1 De Chanel beauty line.

Scenes from our #WhatTheFemale Beauty Edit workshop, held in partnership with Chanel, where guests were invited to learn about the brand’s Nº1 De Chanel collection.

Chanel began researching the camellia and its potential uses in cosmetics from as early as 1998. That was also when the brand began partnering with camellia expert Jean Thoby to cultivate, develop and research the numerous varieties of this flower from around the world. The heart of Chanel’s camellia research today lies in Gaujacq in Southwestern France. Here, the brand cultivates and studies over 2,000 varieties of the flower in its open-sky laboratories.

chanel red camellia
Credit:Stuart Chen

The red camellia of Nº1 De Chanel marks a visual change for Chanel’s packaging design, adding a new dimension of colour to its signature black and white look.

The last major varietal that Chanel discovered and applied to skincare was the white camellia japonica alba plena. This had hydrating benefits that translated into the Hydra Beauty line as we know it today.

For Nº1 De Chanel, it’s a completely new and different type of camellia: the vibrant red ‘Czar’ variety that breaks from the more familiar mould of white flowers.

chanel red camellia
Credit:Chanel

The vibrant red ‘Czar’ camellia that’s at the heart of Nº1 De Chanel. The flower is said to bloom in winter with evergreen leaves, hardy and resilient qualities that drew the French brand to study its potential as a skincare ingredient.

The key difference and standout quality of this red camellia is that it’s brimming with energy and vitality. In its research, Chanel found that this camellia has a uniquely high concentration of protocatechuic acid. It’s a mouthful of a word, but what matters is its properties.

READ MORE: Chanel’s Skincare Experts On Its New Anti-Ageing Beauty Line, Nº1

Primarily, high doses of antioxidants that support skin vitality and prevent cellular damage at the earliest stages. As an active skincare ingredient, it targets five key concerns: wrinkles, visible pores, skin elasticity, radiance and comfort.

chanel red camellia
Credit:Chanel

The Nº1 De Chanel Revitalising Serum (from $175 for 30ml) has the highest concentration of red camellia in the lineup, with both oil- and water-based extracts that make up a whopping 76 per-cent of the formula’s natural-origin ingredients.

Chanel’s also embarked on an exciting direction of sustainability and using large proportions of natural ingredients in its formulas. To wit: the brand has maximised its use of the red camellia as an active ingredient. There’s red camellia extract with revitalising properties drawn from the petals of the flower; red camellia oil extracted from the seeds of the plant that strengthens the skin barrier; and cooling camellia water, obtained through hydro-distillation of the camellia japonica flower.

When used in combination, it increases the concentrations of active ingredients. And when used individually, each derivative can enhance the textures of thicker or lighter products.

chanel red camellia
Credit:Chanel

All nine Nº1 De Chanel products – made up of five skincare, two makeup and one fragrance mist – are infused with red camellia in varying concentrations and forms.

What’s really neat is that every single product in the Nº1 De Chanel collection has red camellia inside it. That’s obvious for overt skincare products like the serum and creams.

But the brand’s commitment to its new hero ingredient even extends to the L’Eau Rouge fragrance mist. This fragrance mist adds a sensual layer of scent to your skincare routine, and can be spritzed on pulse points on the body. And while it might sound unlikely, this mist (its scent was developed by house perfumer Olivier Polge, with notes of jasmine, orange blossom and rose) is actually built on top of a skincare base. At the heart of it – no points for guessing! – red camellias.

Nº1 De Chanel is available at all Chanel Beauty boutiques and counters, and its online store. To sample the products, head to this page.