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Chanel 31 Le Rouge: not just a lipstick

Elegant and innovative design, the revolutionary 31 Le Rouge takes the business of beauty to a whole new level.

By Ingrid Wood

The first thing you will notice about 31 Le Rouge is the glass packaging because it is so completely different to the classic black outfit that we have come to expect of a Chanel lipstick. 

Designed to resemble the mirrors that line the rue Cambon staircase in Paris – the refuge and creative studio of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel, who resided at number 31, it is a tribute to the birthplace of Chanel. 

It took four years to create a durable case, a prerequisite for timelessness, without compromising on aesthetics and the task was given to Japanese glassmaker, who carved the lines of the glass into the work of art we see today. The glass case allows the simple beauty of the object to be revealed and is set with two gold-hued metal rings, while the interior bullet holding the lipstick is made from recyclable aluminium. 

And then, of course, there are the lip colours. The micronised pigments are blended with oil, paired with cellulose powder and enhanced with mother-of-pearl for a magnificent, intense satin finish. The 12 shades are drawn from the House’s heritage, offering glimpses into Coco Chanel’s life and passions, offering a wardrobe of haute couture lip colours for the season. The rich garnet of Rouge 2.55 is inspired by the lining of an iconic handbag, while the crimson Rouge Fétiche is reminiscent of the flannel ribbons Coco Chanel wore around her ankles in the lead up to a new collection release. The dusty orange of Rouge Croisère is a tribute to the Cruise collection wardrobes and Rouge Privé is a shade that calls to mind the door at the top of staircase at 31 rue Cambon, where the words Mademoiselle Privé appear.

The formula has the properties of a skincare product with the performance of a premium lipstick. It is infused with gardenia oil for a smoothing effect, as well as plant-derived waxes and oils for hydration, while camellia esters have a softening effect on the lips. Maracuja oil works on the supporting structure of the skin for more defined lips, helping the colour last up to eight hours. And then, of course, there is the gardenia inspired scent, created by Chanel’s in-house Perfumer-Creator Oliver Polge. It’s addictive on all levels.

We love the novelty of the interchangeable refills, which come with a protective cap, so that you can switch out your lip colour without having to finish the entire bullet. It speaks to Coco Chanel’s philosophies of simplicity and versatility.

We have no doubt that Chanel devotees will be flocking to store to get their favourite shade of 31 Le Rouge. It will look perfect lined up next to the sleek 31 Rue Cambon fragrance, which is part of the Les Exclusifs de Chanel collection…

31 Le Rouge is available at Chanel Fragrance & Beauty Boutiques: Sandton City, V&A Waterfront, Menlyn, Gateway.

Ingrid Wood

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