Chanel Beauty honours timelessness with 31 Le Rouge

IN THE spirit of 31 Rue Cambon, Chanel Beauty has launched a new 12 shade range inspired by the interior, location and heritage of Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment in Paris. The collection, 31 Le Rouge, is encased in glass packaging, making it the first Chanel lipstick with this feature.

Designed by Sylvie Legastelois, the Head of Packing and Design Creation, she has seamlessly taken the fragile case and transformed it into a sturdy, square case that emulates the mirrors that line the Art Deco staircase.

It’s this very casing that hones in on the desire for this to be a product that stays with you for life. With the ability to be refilled time and time again and created from recycled glass, sustainability is at the centre of this new launch.

Chanel Beauty: 31 Le Rouge

But like every Chanel product, from ready-to-wear to lipstick there is a story behind it. The 12 shades link the beauty to the fashion side of the French House as they are inspired by the fundamental shades that make up the Chanel universe.

Rouge Beige was the colour found in Gabrielle’s nightgowns in the 1930s; Rouge Croisiere pays tribute to the mid-season wardrobe that she reimagined in her apartment and Rouge Roman was taken from the colour of the leather dresses and book casings.

Other shades like Rouge Fetiche were taken from the red flannel ribbons that she used to knot around her ankles during collection periods for luck, and Rouge Imaginaire was the embodiment of India that Gabrielle Chanel envisioned.

Far from being your average lipstick, this is your next Chanel heirloom.

Chanel Beauty: 31 Le Rouge

Glass gets an exclusive insight into 31 Le Rouge with Sylvie Legastelois.

Every creation is unique, but 31 Le Rouge seems to take on a really exceptional character. What is so special about it?

Nathalie Volpe mentioned that it is a “first”, and there is something very powerful about a first time. This 31 is “the first time” in several ways: in its formula, in the profound conversation about colours with Rue Cambon, in the relationship that its name creates with the place where it all began, and the strong bond that it builds with haute parfumerie.

For the first time, I made the choice to use glass and to draw inspiration from perfumery for this type of object. And I therefore made full use of the idea of transparency, by working with glass as a mono-material. It was a real technical challenge.

It took more than four years to bring this lipstick to life. What additional challenges did you face?

We took up the design challenge without making any compromises on the original model, by pushing back the limits of the glass and metal processes. The first major difficulty was to work on the inner glass surface to make it as thin as possible, yet still resistant. The Japanese master glassmaker worked an absolute miracle.

This lipstick is like a jewel. It makes me think of a diamond set in a gold metal ring that is there to protect its ends. For even though it makes sense aesthetically, like everything always does at Chanel, each detail also has a function and is never merely ornamental.

Chanel Beauty: 31 Le Rouge

What were your sources of inspiration?

Glass, as well as the metallic gold of N°5, were indeed the starting point. But when I saw the result, it seemed disconnected from what I wanted – it was flashy and didn’t look modern, and above all, the glass seemed to disappear and all we could see was the golden aspect.

With a metallic silver finish on the inside, that all changed. Its presence reflected the transparency and the glass existed in its own right, taking on a mirror aspect that naturally led us to the staircase at 31 Rue Cambon, an image that everyone spontaneously sees.

This staircase, as well as Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment and her universe, are an integral part of our culture. You only have to handle the glass case of 31 Le Rouge to see the reflections when the light passes through it, and you are instantly transported to the steps of the legendary staircase, almost next to Gabrielle, who would stand there to watch her shows, hidden from onlookers. Nobody is indifferent to this historical flashback.

by Imogen Clark

31 Le Rouge lipstick retails at £140 and refills cost £65 – available here

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