Cover The Chanel L’Essence Fondamentale & L’Essence Lumière

Derived from Chanel Beauty’s open-sky laboratories in different parts of the world, the latest additions to the Sublimage collection preserves the resilient powers of ancient plants.

Since the discovery of the vanilla planifolia in 2002, Chanel Beauty has been cracking botanical codes with skincare range, Sublimage. The curative plant native to Madagascar was destined for celebrity status, since its cultivation under an open-sky laboratory led to by Nicola Fuzzati, active ingredients research director, and his team.

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Nicola Fuzzati, Chanel Beauty active ingredients research director
Above Nicola Fuzzati, Chanel Beauty active ingredients research director

By 2006, the planifolia PFA was introduced as Sublimage’s first natural active ingredient. Chanel had tapped the hidden powers and potency of the plant as a whole – from the fruit, leaves and flowers – that would complement a number of botanical extracts used in Sublimage. In 2010, Nicola and his team built an open-sky lab in the South of France to study local herbs as well as native Alpine and Mediterranean plants. That is the beginning of L’Essence Fondamentale and L’Essence Lumière, 2 new powerhouses with the solidago and anthyllis extracts.

In nature I can find anything, at the same time, I don’t want to destroy nature

Nicola Fuzzati

The Mission For Innovation

To commemorate these 2 new additions to Sublimage, Nicola and his colleague, Armelle Souraud, the international scientific communications director, invited us on an immersive showcase in Hong Kong’s Galerie Perrotin. Nicola, who spends most of his time in the open sky labs, greets us with a sunny smile matching a healthy tan. “In nature I can find anything,” Nicola revels. “But then, I need the technology to sublimate, to extract its best and clearly, at the same time, I don’t want to destroy nature.”

That’s where Armelle, a lanky beauty with a scientific intellect, comes in. “Fondamentale and Lumière are reservoirs for these healing medicinal plants,” she explains. “We are re-introducing them through new cosmetic applications and letting people know how amazing they are.” The Chanel open-sky lab has been a fascination adventure for the brand, emboldening them to preserve ancient plants, some of which go back to the 20th century. As we unearth each facet of the products, Nicola and Armelle told the story of their origins.

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Biodiversity Of Nature

Vials of solidago and anthyllis pure extracts are examined as Nicola and Armelle delve into their selection process. After studying numerous high potential plants, they were singled out. A sun-loving mountain plant, the anthyllis is resistant to hostile environments, specifically that of city pollution. The solidago flower, on the other hand, thrives in dry environments and grows on the rocky foothills of the Alps, simultaneously able to improve skin structure while restoring volume to ageing symptoms.

 “Solidago works on the SNEV protein in the Fondamentale product, creating a cellular vitality boosting process to enhance the epidermal thickness and contribute to collagen production,” Armelle describes. Lumière and its core extract of Anthyllis targets SESTRINE-2 and acts as a natural anti-stress shield from premature ageing and addresses the onslaught of pigmentation.

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A Project With Heart

Chanel’s headstart in Madagascar instilled in them a sense of duty to explore the potential of ancient herbs in their French open-sky lab, and they saw to preserve the savoir-faire of the specific region. Along the way, the team had forged long-term partnerships from their open-sky labs, from the early days of Sublimage. “It’s become a sustainable project that truly respects the resources and local population through our collaborations.” Armelle marvels. Nicola couldn’t agree more, contributing an insight to their work dynamics: “Where we collect the plants – there’s around 20,000 meters of land – you need on-ground guides to find the concealed plants.”

Fondamentale and Lumière are reservoirs for these healing medicinal plants

Armelle Souraud

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Armelle Souraud, Chanel Beauty international scientific communications director
Above Armelle Souraud, Chanel Beauty international scientific communications director

Show & Tell

Our last stop on the tour, the demo room, elicits a twitter of activity. We find ourselves touching, trying and experiencing both Fondamentale and Lumière essences, noting how light and silky they are to the touch, though concentrated with active extracts. “It takes 140,000 solidago flowers to obtain 1kg of active ingredient,” Armelle estimates. Day time is pronounced the best time to apply Lumière for its protective functions, while Fondamentale is best for evening use, allowing it time to restore essential skin functions. Both essences are tailored to suit Caucasian and Asian skin, Armelle adds, specifying safety and test runs behind each ingredient.

The Secret Touch

One last gesture is all it takes to unlock the sophisticated formula. Sensorial application techniques deploy a luxury to the senses: For Lumière, the ‘Chanel Au Ritz’ ritual is applied in microcirculation gestures, explains Armelle, to activate circulation and an immediate glow. Fondamentale is lathered in a stimulating 3-step ritual on the face and scalp. The action of pressure and lift starts from forehead to the top of the head, from ear to the back of head, and back of the temples to the back of head, in a massage aiming at pressure points. Once you get the hang of these massages, they’ll be the easiest self-care rituals to go home to, as we would soon discover.

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Skin changes with time, and so does the efficacy of products we use. Till then, we’re incorporating the daily indulgences of the Lumière and Fondamentale. Knowing that Chanel preserves potent ancient herbs of the world through Sublimage gives us security and clarity that our skin is receiving what nature intended.

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