“Makeup should be an expression of one’s self,” Lucia Pica says firmly. This guiding principle has fuelled the way that the empathetic makeup artist for Byredo approaches her craft—from being Charlotte Tilbury’s right-hand woman to amassing a colourful portfolio of runway shows, global advertising campaigns and magazine covers as a freelancer, and later, in her role as Chanel’s global creative makeup and colour director.
After leaving Chanel in late 2021, Pica received a message from Ben Gorham, the founder and creator of Byredo, who requested a meeting in Paris. Gorham needed someone to helm the house’s cosmetics division after its first creative director Isamaya Ffrench left in March 2022. To confirm his theory that Pica was right for the brand, Gorham brought his daughter along, who gave his pick the ultimate Generation Alpha compliment after meeting her: She mentioned that Pica had “good energy”, and that she and Gorham would work well together.
Beyond putting out “good vibes”, Pica’s success at transforming the way makeup can be used by women to explore their sense of self comes from gut intuition and how she feels at the moment. And that innate sense of what works and what doesn’t shines through clearly in her first full collection for Byredo as creative image and makeup partner.
Comprising an eyeliner, mascara, an eyeshadow palette and two lipsticks, her debut offering for the brand, titled First Emotions, is centred around those first feelings of falling and being in love; emotions she has skillfully translated into wearable makeup that taps into the hearts of women.
“It’s a reflection of how the body feels things before they’re comprehended by the brain,” she says of her collection, adding that “there are different tonalities of love; different facets—erotic, sincere, unconditional … even unrequited.”
Here, Pica talks about the concept of First Emotions, the beauty of blurriness and the references she constantly mines when it comes to the magic she does with makeup.
Tell us more about the conceptualisation process behind the First Emotions collection, which centres on that first surge of love.
I started by gathering visual ideas and things that I felt were both right for the brand and represented the emotions people may feel [while in love]. From there, I mostly started thinking about the first stage of a romantic relationship and next, situations with people such as friends or even encounters you have with your job.
I said to Ben (Gorham, founder of Byredo) that I thought that this was the right place to start. I’m someone who goes fully into everything that I do and that involves a lot of contrasting emotions. I like to explore all of them and love that they can [coexist harmoniously]. He agreed that this was what Byredo represented and he gave me the freedom to explore because he felt like he wanted to get to know me better.
What about the colours in the collection; do they relate to the emotions you had in mind?
It’s the feeling and imagining of [emotions] in a physical way, as emotions such as elation, passion and contentment are really hard to explain through words. We all feel [them] and some do [so] more intensely or weakly than others. However, I think that the colours that come from emotions express themselves through the body.
For example, reds or burgundies appear on the cheeks when you’re shy or aroused, and you might even develop a glow, which is expressed through the golds in the collection. It’s all about gestures, like the colour you get after biting your lips or turning red in the face in front of someone.
[Conceptually,] the names [of the colours] in the eyeshadow palette include ones like Void, to represent instances where you avoid someone, or it could even mean being lost in emotions. It can also have a subversive meaning and this state of mind can make you feel powerful.
Does how the products are applied play into bringing out the theme of the collection?
You can apply [the products] in all kinds of ways that make the makeup look like it’s a part of you. In a practical way, you can obviously use tools to precisely apply the products, but there’s something about using your fingers that makes it more romantic.
For example, using your fingers to apply lipstick gives a blurry finish that in a way looks like you’ve been kissing somebody.
You’ve said that the element of the First Emotions collection is fire. What kind of fire is it?
That’s up to the person who uses it. It can be a light or strong flame, because [the collection’s] open to how [users] interpret it. I often say that with my vision in mind, I give tools such as colours and textures to people and leave it up to them to use them in a way that makes them feel good about themselves.
Because of its texture and finish, your makeup always seems nostalgic in a way that isn’t overtly sentimental but modern. How do you translate that aesthetic for Byredo?
I always [take reference from the] 1990s, which influence things such as applying a highlight on the cheeks or a burgundy stain on the lips. There’s also always a recall of my teenage and formative years, when I was discovering makeup, and the memories from both periods are always something we can never forget.
[I’m]always going to be bringing influences from those years into [my] life, but you’re right in saying that I’m always trying to bring modernity into the work I do, as I’m attracted to seeing the personality of a person come through even with makeup on. There’s something that’s alive about the makeup on them and this aesthetic fits perfectly for Byredo, as the brand talks about emotions and memories in a luxurious and sophisticated way that has a real edge to it.
There’s a sort of rawness that brings all of these qualities together, which I think makes the development of products interesting.
What’s also interesting is that you can tell a love story using the names of the colours—such as “Ambivalent”, “Mixed Emotions”, “On the Fence” and “Transported”. Is this intentional?
Yes, it’s intentional, because you may be on the fence about a situation and next, you’re transported into a void where you experience mixed emotions. However, these emotions can also all happen at the same time.
You can have mixed emotions about something or someone, but be ambivalent about it; it’s about being present and accepting that everything can happen at the same time.
… So you’re like a storyteller, unfolding chapters in the story you’re creating for Byredo.
I think the places you’re at as a creative keep changing. For the Liquid Lipstick Vinyl, I wanted [it] to be as transparent as possible, as I was looking at what I was doing with a clear mind; I wanted people to feel raw emotion through its textures.
For First Emotions, it’s all about emotions and moments in a person’s life, which is why the advertising campaign has suggestions of flames in it to represent an event. There are chapters where we’ll continue exploring emotions, but it’s nice that there is easy freedom in the things I do.