Chanel Nail Polish and the Beauty of Baudrillard

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Set design by Samuel Pidgen

We philosophise on the allure of Lucia Pica's hyperreal holiday collection

TextOlivia SingerPhotographic EditorHolly HayPhotographyMax Cornwall

Chanel Le Vernis

544 Longwear Hyperrose Glass, 540 Longwear Liquid Mirror Nail Varnish

The pairing of beauty products with cerebral philosophy is a rare phenomenon: short of shoehorning a bit of Simone de Beauvoir into a top ten of the season’s best blushers, one is hard-pressed to align the two disciplines. Lucia Pica, however, has succeeded in coupling Baudrillard and nail polish with remarkable grace for her first Collection Libre as creative director for Chanel cosmetics (her first actual collection, Le Rouge Collection N°1, was similarly brilliant). Taking “cityscapes and urban materials” as her inspiration, Pica has created series of products which appear to embrace the hyperreal, with names like Ultraberry (a translucent, currant-coloured lipstick) and Hyperrose Glass (a perfect, semi-transparent pink polish) alongside a collection name – Synthetic de Chanel – which bears clear parity to the French philosopher's musings.

In a nutshell, Baudrillard's theorising supposed that, in a hyperreal world, fact and fiction are blurred; that one cannot distinguish the artificial from the authentic. Thus, his legacy is in keeping with a polish that proposes to transform your nails into powdery pink artificial rubber, or one which turns them into a simulation of a silver mirror (Liquid Mirror: here, we take a slight detour into Lacan). Anyway, isn't hyperreality, and the construction of self, part of the pure joy of beauty products? Philosophy, refracted through the prism of Chanel. We approve.