Chanel Aims to Merge Luxury and Sustainability With Its Newest Beauty Line, No. 1 de Chanel
Beyond the coveted quilted bag and interlocking C’s, over the last century Chanel has become synonymous with several other distinguishing design elements. There’s the sophisticated tweed, the glistening pearls, the contrasting coloured shoes, and the luscious camellia flower – the gorgeous, scentless bloom beloved by the founder of the brand, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. In fact, the designer loved camellia flower so much that it became a signature motif in her work, from engraved buttons on a suit to embroidery on an evening gown, and all the hats, shoes, and jewellery in between. One could even find camellias etched into the screens in Chanel’s lavish private apartment above her store on Rue Cambon in Paris.
Now, nearly a century since Coco Chanel began incorporating the camellia into her collections, the brand has decided to pay homage to the enchanting flower with what is quite possibly its biggest beauty launch of the past decade. The Chanel No. 1 de Chanel Collection is a range of skin care, makeup, and fragrance, all of which utilise or are inspired by the camellia flower. No. 1 also represents the most eco-conscious collection from Chanel to date, from the natural raw materials inside the formulas to the outer packaging made in part from recycled bio-sourced materials.
No. 1 de Chanel took the brand five years to develop, but the collection has actually been decades in the making. The camellias used in the No. 1 products come from a camellia farm in the village of Gaujacq, situated in the Landes region of southwest of France. The farm, which Chanel began partnering with in 1998, contains 2,000 camellia varieties, two of which were the starting point for Chanel’s crops that were planted 10 years ago. The farm is dedicated to plant conservation and boasts a High Environmental Value level three certification (the highest level of the certification initiative), which means it uses farming practices that are respectful to the environment and forgo any “chemical input”.
The No. 1 products don’t contain just any camellia flower, though. They contain oils and extracts from the red camellia flower (hence why several of the products in the range feature red packaging) from the “Czar” variety of camellia japonica, the petals of which can withstand both the wet and the cold without wilting. In addition to being resilient and spectacular to look at, Chanel’s scientists also discovered that the red Czar camellia features an interesting ingredient called protocatechuic acid.
Rich in skin-protecting antioxidants, the brand also claims that protocatechuic acid helps “support skin vitality” by targeting “senescent cells”. A little biology lesson here: Ideally, our immune system clears away damaged cells and replaces them with younger cells in a process called apoptosis, i.e. “cell death”. Senescent cells, however, are cells that stop dividing (either due to the age or external aggressors like pollution or UV rays) but are not removed by our immune systems, leaving them to build up in the tissues, which can sometimes cause damage to neighbouring cells and ageing of the tissue itself.
According to the brand, the Chanel scientists found that the protocatechuic acid is effective at the first stage of senescence, so when the cell’s metabolism slows and it stops dividing. Every product in the No. 1 range contains some form of the red camellia flower – whether it’s red camellia oil, red camellia water, or a yeast extract – which means they all contain some degree of protocatechuic acid along with a variety of other skin-loving ingredients.
No. 1 is Chanel Beauty’s first skin-care range that’s not designated for a specific age group or skin type (unlike Sublimage or Le Lift, for example). Rather the products – a face cream, an eye cream, a serum, a serum-in-mist, a lotion, and a cleanser – promise to target the five main signs of ageing (lines and wrinkles, pores visibility, loss of elasticity, lack of comfort, and radiance) regardless of how old you are or if your skin is oily, dry, or somewhere in between.
It’s also the brand’s first collection to encompass multiple categories, with a fragrance, a foundation, and a cream blush in addition to the six skin-care products. The makeup, in my opinion, is also age inclusive. The Lip and Cheek Balm comes in six wearable hues that are full of pigment (so the colour won’t disappear a mere hour after you apply it). I’m in my mid-30s and absolutely love how these cream blushers look on my cheeks, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use them on my 70-year-old mum, either. The foundation, which offers a touch of hydration and a second-skin finish, is another formula that doesn’t discriminate. It will cover imperfections, even out skin tone, and perk up your complexion regardless of the date on your driver’s license. And like many of the brand’s foundation formulas, it doesn’t look like foundation on the skin.
The star product in the range, the Red Camellia Revitalizing Cream (£55), represents another first for Chanel Beauty as it’s refillable, something we hope the brand will consider rolling out to its other skin-care collections in the future. Overall, it’s clear with this launch that the brand is trying to find ways to merge sustainability and luxury. The packaging, which looks more minimal and streamlined than the Chanel skin-care launches of old, features organic inks and very little plastic (for instance, there’s no cellophane around the boxes); and whilst 80 percent of the packaging is made of recyclable glass, the weight of the bottles and jars has been reduced in an effort to cut down greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of ink, the iconic double Cs at the top of every bottle and jar are engraved, whilst the cap for the Revitalizing Cream is even made from crushed camellia-seed shells and wood shavings.
Keep reading to discover and shop the entire Chanel No. 1 de Chanel Red Camellia collection, which becomes available on Chanel’s website on 5 Jan 2022.