Chanel’s Ultimate Power Plant: The Ingredient Behind The Brand’s New Clean Beauty Line 

Since the start of time, the rose has been a muse for well-known artists. But ever the maverick, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel was drawn to the camellia, an androgynous bloom with minimalist traces that mirrored her sartorial fashion. Originating in japanese and southern Asia, camellia is thornless, scentless and characterised by voluptuous spherical geometric blooms in shades of white, pink, purple or yellow. That camellia lacks perfume merely meant it by no means competed with the couturier’s beloved Chanel Nº 5 Eau de Parfum.

Wearing a single white camellia like a blinding jewel grew to become a ‘Coco-ism’ – whether or not worn in opposition to black or pinned to the lapel of a tweed go well with, a flourish famously captured in {a photograph} with Salvador Dali in 1937. The camellia went on to turn into Chanel’s most recognisable leitmotif, immortalised in all the pieces from excessive jewelry to elaborations on night robes, footwear and luggage. Crystal camellia even bloomed within the chandelier and Coromandel folding screens in her non-public residence on Paris’ Rue Cambon.

The constructing block of the N°1 de Chanel sustainable skincare line may be discovered on the model’s 70 hectares natural camellia farm and analysis laboratory

But why would a single flower go away such an indelible mark on Chanel? Some say all of it started with the bouquets of camellias offered to her by Captain Arthur Edward “Boy” Capel throughout their courtship. Others declare she fell in love with the bloom after studying Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, by which the heroine at all times wore a white camellia. Or maybe Chanel, who popularised trousers for girls, merely co-opted the camellia as a result of it was worn as a person’s boutonniere.

Whatever the rationale, the camellia has stood the take a look at of time. Creative director Karl Lagerfeld carried on the custom from the second he entered Chanel’s headquarters in 1983. Likewise, Virginie Viard’s tenure has paid homage to the flower on each an intimate and grand scale – from camellia-engraved buttons to an A/W20 runway famously reworked into gently curved white tiers.

Coco Chanel photographed by Boris Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet in Paris, 1937

Now the camellia is within the highlight as soon as once more – this time as the main focus of a sweeping analysis venture and the important thing ingredient in Chanel’s most groundbreaking skincare line thus far.

Botanical beginnings

Chanel has been researching camellia flowers since 1998 when it opened its first ‘open sky lab’ within the rolling hills of Gaujacq within the South-West of France. With its fertile soil and microclimate of delicate summer season and winter temperatures, it’s an idyllic setting for camellia to thrive.

Chanel’s 70 hectares natural camellia farm and analysis laboratory was established in collaboration with Jean Thoby, a world camellia knowledgeable, whose personal botanical conservatory backyard is only some kilometres away. Dedicated to plant conservation, the backyard is house to 2,000 sorts of camellias from world wide, together with two seedlings from the mom vegetation supposedly ordered by Coco Chanel greater than a century earlier. These pure white Camellia japonica ‘Alba Plena’ grew to become the start line for Chanel’s crops.

The constructing block of the N°1 de Chanel sustainable skincare line may be discovered on the model’s 70 hectares natural camellia farm and analysis laboratory

I’m one of many first journalists to go to each hallowed grounds. Thoby’s backyard sits adjoining to a white-washed shabby-chic French farm home with blue shutters. There’s little to counsel the reference to a luxurious style home, other than a constructing repurposed by Chanel for academic occasions. Nature is the factor of magnificence right here: birdsong, the meditative hum of bees and the comfortable flutter of wings from a turmeric-coloured butterfly that hungrily darts from bloom to bloom. This I later study is the Marsh Copper, a protected species that had all however vanished till the camellia fields arrived. A rudimentary mud path leads uphill previous huge swathes of towering camellia bushes, a weeping willow and different timber laden with confetti-like blossoms. Like a Gallic Garden of Eden, it’s obtained the wow issue.

Similarly, there’s nothing industrial in regards to the farm the place Chanel’s camellias are grown and conventional farming strategies meet scientific innovation. “2,700 Camellia japonica ‘Alba Plena’ are cultivated within the open area, in line with environmentally pleasant agricultural practices, with out the usage of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers,” explains Philippe Grandry, Chanel’s crop operations supervisor on the farm. To be a pioneer in environmental safety and sustainable growth is the intention for this venture, he says.

Hence the deal with preserving native ecosystems and conserving biodiversity. In follow, what this implies is timber and shrubs have been launched to offer pure shade for the camellias, but in addition to stop soil erosion, improve resistance to illness and supply shelter for pollinators and birds. This method is bearing fruit in additional methods than one. It has earned Chanel a stage 3 HVE (High Environmental Value) certification, the gold normal for farms. And had it not been for this venture, the white camellia, which is just cultivated in Gaujacq, could have disappeared altogether.

During the harvest, the camellias are hand-picked, weighed and instantly frozen to protect the efficiency of their lively molecules earlier than being delivered to the on-site laboratory. Its presence near the crops reduces each the carbon footprint and the time it takes for these molecules to be extracted, filtered and concentrated. It additionally makes it simpler to manage the standard of the crops and ensures full transparency with regards to ingredient traceability.

Jean Thoby, worldwide camellia knowledgeable makes his choice

Skincare’s rising star

The Camellia japonica flowers in January and blooms in March. By finding out its resistance to winter frost, Chanel researchers have found “molecules, which reveal distinctive moisturising properties,” explains Nicola Fuzzati, director of innovation and growth of beauty components at Chanel. “The lively ingredient created from the Camellia japonica ‘Alba Plena’ is concentrated in polyphenols. These assist to revive and keep water reserves by concentrating on a key pores and skin mechanism that repeatedly prompts pure hydration.”

The white-petalled ‘Alba Plena’ has been the important thing lively in Chanel’s Hydra Beauty skincare line, together with the vastly common Micro Serum and Micro Crème, since 2009. It’s now joined in Gaujacq by a purple number of Camellia japonica, referred to as ‘The Czar’, which Chanel has made the star of its new blockbuster line of N°1 de Chanel skincare. The purple petals comprise a excessive focus of protocatechuic acid, “an lively molecule beforehand unseen within the camellias analysed by Chanel scientists,” says Fuzzati. A robust antioxidant, it helps to guard the pores and skin from the consequences of stress, UV and air pollution.

The ingredient might also decelerate the onset of mobile senescence, a pure course of by which ageing pores and skin cells cease dividing and lie dormant, disrupting different wholesome cells and inflicting dryness and slackness within the pores and skin. In truth, in line with Thoby, “camellias have the attribute of getting no senescence program – genetically they don’t seem to be programmed to die,” which works some approach to explaining how they’re perpetually regenerating themselves by producing new stems, leaves and flowers. “The extra time passes, the extra lovely and robust the plant is,” provides Thoby.

Crucially, N°1 de Chanel can be the home’s first foray into clear magnificence, which is smart given Gaujacq’s spectacular dedication to the facility of nature. The formulation have sustainability entrance of thoughts; they’re as much as 97 per cent pure and use nearly all the camellia plant, together with the petals, seeds which might be pressed to acquire oil and even a kind of yeast, which helps to strengthen its barrier operate.

Standouts within the N°1 de Chanel assortment, which at present options 9 merchandise, embody the extremely concentrated Red Camellia Revitalizing Serum, an Eye Cream and a Powder-to-Foam Cleanser, which transforms on contact with water, thereby lowering planet-damaging emissions within the manufacturing course of. Most merchandise, together with L’Eau Rouge – an elevated physique mist infused with camellia water, jasmine, orange blossom and glowing purple fruits for a jolt of freshness – are fabricated from recyclable glass, whereas the refillable jar of the Revitalizing Cream even has a cap composed of crushed camellia seed shells. For an effortlessly stylish crowning glory, the muse, enriched with smoothing purple camellia oil, creates a second-skin impact; the lip and cheek balm a flirtatious flush.

Which brings us again to the camellia itself. The farm in Gaujacq is Chanel’s clean web page to create a brand new kind of heritage; one which has a tangible stake within the conservation of this flower and the encompassing countryside. But maybe the camellia’s limitless powers for regeneration is its best legacy of all and a nod to the numerous methods it is going to be reimagined in Chanel skincare for years to return.

Lead picture by Boris Lipnitzki/Roger-Viollet

From Harper’s Bazaar Arabia’s May 2022 subject.

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