When is beige not boring? When it’s Chanel beige, cherie. I should know: I spent the morning being educated in the the ethos behind Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, the latest addition to the Chanel make-up range.
The brainchild of Peter Philips, the Creative Director of Chanel Make-up, whose tenure has so far produced such instant beauty classics as Rouge Coco Shine, Illusion d’Ombre and Rouge Allure Velvet, Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder was directly inspired – as so much within Chanel Beauty is – by Coco Chanel herself.
The legendary designer revolutionised fashion by liberating the female body from constrictive clothes, allowing it to move freely and be exposed to the sunlight. She was one of the first women to embrace a healthy, sun-kissed glow as a beauty ideal – porcelain skin had previously been the desired look – and photographs from the 1920s show Chanel on the beaches of Deauville, Biarritz and Cannes bare-faced and glowing with a subtle radiance.
Peter Philips credits Coco Chanel’s “emancipation” of the body as the inspiration behind his vision of “a free and liberating make-up; make-up that frees make-up in one novel beauty step” – and provides “an outdoor, radiant complexion”.
The idea of Les Beiges is to enhance the complexion and help women to achieve the healthiest, most glowing version of their skin. The new powder – claims Chanel – puts an end to dull complexions. Indeed, they go so far as to declare it as “a manifesto for a healthy glow”.
If the powder wasn’t so lovely and effective (and don’t get me started on the chic-beyond-belief packaging), the natural piss-taker in me would have to do something with all the pseudo political spiel set out in the press dossier – but one can’t help but be charmed by Philips and his passion for what he does. Especially when he keeps giving us girls such fabulous new products to play with.
Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder is ideal for those of us who aren’t into bronzing powder, but would like just a little boost for pale or lacklustre skin. Philips says: “I wanted a refined, visible yet discreet result. I had to avoid the trap of excessive pearly effects and flamboyant tans to achieve this healthy glow. I worked with the Chanel Laboratories for months to compose the perfect range of beige shades.” And while it’s working its magic on the appearance of the complexion, the powder is also looking after the skin – since it provides protection against sun damage, pollution, dehydration and environmental stress.
There are seven shades in the range – and how you choose your shade depends very much on what you’re wanting from the powder. Lucinda Paterson-Brown, one of Chanel’s top UK-based make-up artists, talked me through it. No10, the lightest shade, was the one she chose for me as a base – applied with a kabuki brush, it is, she says, a terrific foundation. “For a soft, natural glow,” she adds, “you could use No20. And if you were wanting a powder to use as a gentle bronzer, across the cheeks and temple, No30 would be ideal.”
Very much created with the needs of the modern Chanel woman in mind, the powder comes with a half-moon shaped brush designed to follow the curves of the face. “You have to be able to apply your make-up without thinking about it,” explains Peter Philips. “And even though the case contains a wide-angle mirror, you can sweep on some Beige with your eyes closed. I guarantee that the result will be perfectly natural.”
* Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder SPF15 (£38) and retractable kabuki brush (£33) are available now.