At Work with Olivia Chantecaille

Olivia Chantecaille

Olivia Chantecaille and I go way back, having first met six or seven years ago when I interviewed the striking beauty guru for a shopping column I used to write for Fashion Wire Daily.

So I was delighted when she recently invited me to Chantecaille’s newly revamped Soho office for a sneak peek at their new collections and the skinny on her not-so-average workday. (Chantecaille was founded by Olivia’s mother, Sylvie, in 1997 – her father, Olivier, and sister Alex now work for the company, as well.)

“Every day is so different, which is the fun part of my job,” Olivia told me as we sat in a corner of the loft-like whitewashed space in front of a display of Chantecaille cosmetics, all of which I was dying to play with. “I wear so many hats. For example, tomorrow I’m going to one of our labs to work on our new spring colors for 2012, which is very exciting. They’re actually a lab based in Italy, outside of Milan, but they have a satellite lab here [in upstate New York] where we can go and mix colors that they’ll produce in Italy. It’s a great, fun place to work with the technicians and be very creative and come up with all the new shades that were inspired by the current fashion trends.”

But before she turned her attention to next spring, I wanted to know what we could expect for Spring/Summer 2011. “This season was about two things: neutrals and color, and the balance between them,” she said. “So if you’re going to wear a lot of color [in your clothing], wear neutral colors on your face — or choose one pop color if you’re wearing neutral clothing.”

There’s also a movement toward very clean, healthy skin this season, which Chantecaille translated into three new products: Poudre de Perle, a mineral blush housed in its own flow-through brush (a similar refillable container houses Chantecaille’s Protection Naturelle loose powder, which contains SPF 46+ for on-the-go touch-ups). Ultra Sun Protection Anti-Glycation Primer, meanwhile, protects against the elements thanks to its collagen-boosting formula and SPF 50+ and can be worn alone or under foundation. For those of us who want to look sun-kissed without the sun damage, there’s Compact Soleil in St. Barth’s, a warm brown shade with sunny golden pearl highlights. Chantecaille’s spring/summer color palette was inspired by sea turtles, one of Olivia’s current obsessions (five percent of the proceeds from the sale of the eye/cheek palette go to WIDECAST, a Caribbean non-profit dedicated to saving sea turtles).

For fall, it’s all about a strong lip or a strong eye. “It’s very powerful and feminine and seductive,” enthused Olivia as she fanned out color copies of her fall inspiration boards. She snapped open a square grey compact to reveal “The New Classic” palette, which is all sophisticated inky plums for the eyes and a shimmery peachy-pink blush, offset by two new Lip Chic lipsticks in rich berry shades of Calla Lily and Violetta. They’re also launching a new version of Mascara Faux Cils, with a peptide that actually helps lashes grow (yes, really).

In addition to serving as Creative Director and the brand’s public face (that’s her gorgeous mug you see in all Chantecaille advertising and store displays), Olivia also personally presents all new products to editors, and designs the preview packaging, and oversees all global PR and US advertising as well – “from handling the accounts to working on the design of the ads.” She touts “the magic of the iPad” with helping her get it all done. “I am on it from the time I wake up until I go to sleep — and it’s also amazing for when I’m traveling.”

“I’m very lucky because I love my family and get along with them very well, so I’m actually very fortunate to work with them,” said Olivia as we prepared to say good-bye. “So it’s a great situation. It may not work for everybody, but it works for me.”

Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.

July 1, 2011