The new line from Chanel harnesses its powers from almost 100% naturally-derived ingredients
The setting was Rosewood Phuket in Thailand, a stunning 600-meter stretch of beachfront at Emerald Bay. The resort stuns with its innovative architecture and subtle Thai influences, making it the perfect choice for the luxury brand to launch N°1 de Chanel, its latest comprehensive skin care and makeup line of naturally-produced products—a first for the brand.
The launch was a feast for all our senses as we were first welcomed by Armelle Souraud, International Scientific Communications Director whose presentation touched on how the creation of the line signifies the brand’s shift to a more sustainable type of growth with a special interest in developing more science-driven formulations that work with nature, not against it.
In line with prioritizing nature, Chanel looked into the amazing powers of the Red Czar Camellia flower. According to Nicola Fuzzati, researcher and phyto-chemist who is now the Director of Innovation and Development for Cosmetic Ingredients at Chanel Research, it was chosen among over 2,000 varieties of Camellia. The ability to harness the power of the Red Czar Camellia is the result of 17 years of research focused on the brand’s emblematic flower, which was a fave of Coco Chanel herself. She was said to have watched a performance of Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, and this inspired her to wear the flower, as well as use it in her clothes and jewels.
The red Camellia was further highlighted via an immersive experience wherein we were each led into a dark room with LED screens that projected an interactive type of animation. Swiping our hands from a short distance made the petals of the red Camellia on the screen move along with the motion of our hands and seemed to release the petals freely into space. The launch was capped with a walk-through into a pop-up space by the beach where we were allowed to try out the entire line at our own pace.
So where exactly does all the magic happen when it comes to the production of this magnificent line? Nicola says the 40,000 trees of red Camellias are housed in a unique open-sky laboratory spread across 70 hectares of fields located in Gaujacq, a town in Southwest France. It is managed based on the principles of agroecology and agroforestry in order to preserve local biodiversity.
Each red Camellia is carefully harvested as it is the key ingredient used to fight all major signs of aging, with the line’s formula containing up to 76% Camellia-derived ingredients. While testing the Red Camellia, Chanel Research studied three key markers related to skin aging: CDK1 and Lamin B1, which are linked to vitality and MMP1, a marker of premature aging caused by the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers. In vitro tests were performed, and the expression of these markers shows that Red Camellia Extract helps preserve vitality and strengthen skin. The red Camellia was in fact found to possess the unique ability of being able to condense its energy and nutrients in order to bloom in winter. The brand discovered that the vitality of this flower translated into antioxidant-rich skincare ingredients that effectively support skin vitality and health.
Chanel also looked into another aspect when it comes to how our skin cells work—when working at full capacity, skin is youthful looking, plump, and taught. As we age, however, a process called senescence begins to take place and happens in several stages: First, skin cells stop dividing without dying off. Second, these senescent cells or “zombie cells” start to spread and disrupt neighboring healthy cells and how they normally function. Lastly, senescence fully sets in when these zombie cells accumulate to up to 50% of the entire cell population. This results in signs of aging like dullness, wrinkles, and reduced elasticity.
Ultimately, the aim of N°1 de Chanel is to address these skin deterioration issues early on so that senescence can be stopped in its tracks and not progress into a dangerous stage where healthy cells begin to be compromised. The brand promises that with continued use over the course of six months, the Revitalizing Serum, the most potent and concentrated product of the line, will help skin regain its vitality with noticeably less visible lines and pores and much-improved elasticity. This modern take on anti-aging coupled with Chanel’s efforts to create products with sustainability in mind are what make this line deserving of its name—number one.
Photos: CHANEL and AGOO AZCUNA-BENGZON