Chanel’s Sylvie Legastelois on the importance of sustainability: “We need to integrate eco-design into every new product”

HUNGER sits down with Chanel’s Head of Packing and Design Creation to discuss the intricacies of their new lipstick, 31 Le Rogue.

After graduating from a design school in Paris and receiving a gold medal from the Van Der Kelen School of Decorative Painting in Brussels, Sylvie Legastelois joined one of beauty and fashion’s most prestigious labels, Chanel, in 1984.

Now, almost four decades later, Legastelois is still reinventing the wheel. Her latest design comes in the form of 31 Le Rogue, the first ever Chanel lipstick to arrive in glass packaging. Its sleek design was crafted to resemble the famous Rue Cambon staircase in Paris and had been in production for four years. Arriving in 12 shades, the lipstick will add a touch of elegance to any makeup bag.

Here, HUNGER sits down with Legastelois to discuss the inspiration behind 31 Le Rogue, how the design sticks to Coco Chanel’s vision, and the importance of sustainability.

Sylvie Legastelois

What inspired the change in design and the use of glass? 

Chanel wanted to create a new ultimate luxury lipstick inspired by the world of Mademoiselle Chanel and 31 Rue Cambon. 

This radical choice of glass is a tribute to our house of haute perfumery. Glass is a noble material that can be recycled ad infinitum. It offers incomparable transparency and light. The combination of glass and silver metal immediately brings to mind the faceted mirrors on the legendary staircase at 31 Rue Cambon. 

As fine as a piece of jewellery, the glass is set on either side by a ring of gilded metal. for the 1st time. These two rings are joined by a magnet, creating a new aesthetic code at Chanel. 

Have you been developing this idea for a while? From where did you take inspiration, art or architecture? 

The choice of these two materials, glass and metal, makes this refillable lipstick a technical feat. It took four years to develop this object so that it remained faithful to the initial model. This work was made possible thanks to the collaboration of a Japanese master glassmaker and a Japanese metal supplier, both long-standing partners of Chanel. Architecture is always a great source of inspiration for me, and it is hard not to make the link between the design of the staircase at 31 Rue Cambon and this case with its mirror-like faceted reflections. 

I’m also fascinated by the handiwork and the preciousness of the creations made in our “maisons d’art”. The choice of glass adds a lively & vibrant quality that makes each lipstick unique.

Is the new design significant to a change or shift of some sort in the Chanel brand? 

This choice of a glass lipstick combined with silver and gold metal is a new code, a new statement for Chanel. It is in line with our approach to eco-responsibility and ultimate luxury. A precious, long-lasting object that can be kept and passed on. 

How do you feel 31 Le Rouge is reminiscent of Chanel’s brand and Coco Chanel’s vision? 

Although highly innovative, this new lipstick is totally in line with our brand DNA. The choice of glass is a tribute to our fragrances and reflects the times by pushing back the boundaries of what’s possible. 

Its curved square shape, signed with the double ‘C’, recalls the identity of our lipsticks and make-up cases. 

Gabrielle Chanel was always ahead of her time, and innovation is at the heart of our creations while respecting our iconic codes. 

How, in your mind, does Chanel continue to pioneer both product experience and design? 

Gabrielle Chanel has bequeathed us a precious heritage and the ability to reinvent new codes, look further, and always be where we are not expected. This creative vision is a full part of the house’s DNA.  It allows us to explore new paths and new ways of experiencing things and to imagine the products of tomorrow. 

Is the use of a glass case reflective of the efforts of the brand to cut down on plastic use? 

It was obvious to Chanel that the creation of a new lipstick should reflect the values of our time. Our commitment to CSR is an integral part of the thinking behind each of our creations. With this in mind, we decided to remove all the plastic parts, which are often technical, and keep only glass and aluminium. It was a real challenge to reinvent an all-metal refill as it was done almost 100 years ago. 

Do you hope other brands will take inspiration from Chanel’s design and cut down on plastic use? 

Of course, I hope that this approach becomes a source of inspiration for brands. It seems obvious to me that, as designers, we need to integrate these eco-design approaches into every new product we create. 

This new way of looking at design could sometimes be seen as a constraint, but for me, it’s actually a new way of creating and innovating while respecting the excellence of our creations. 

How did you hope to create a design that feels both timeless and contemporary? 

It is quite hard for me to find a proper answer to this question. Creation is an intuition; it cannot be explained. Is this the magic of Chanel? This constant tension between the past and the future… to be both of our time and able to cross the decades, like our legendary N°5 fragrance!

Banner Image CreditChanel