Chanel’s Three Comètes Collective Makeup Artists Talk Allure

PARIS — Chanel’s collective of makeup artists discussed allure at the Palais de Tokyo.

The three initial members of the Comètes Collective shared their thoughts Tuesday in one of the Paris museum’s vast, rough-hewn rooms. It marked the first time they made a public appearance together in Europe since Chanel revealed the collective’s creation in October 2022.

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Valentina Li, Ammy Drammeh and Cécile Paravina were at the time described by the house as “a group of emerging talents shaping the future of beauty.” They were signed on to accelerate the creative momentum of the Chanel Makeup Creation Studio and take a pluralistic vision of beauty through a collaborative effort.

Drammeh is of Spanish and Gambian heritage, was raised in Spain and moved to London. Paravina was born in Belgium, went to school in Antwerp and then relocated to Paris. Li is a native of Guangxi, China, who studied makeup in Beijing and Paris.

Valentina Li, a member of <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Chanel;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Chanel</a>’s Comètes Collective.
Valentina Li, a member of Chanel’s Comètes Collective.

“Comètes” is French for “comets,” and was chosen as a moniker for the infinite possibilities the word invokes.

Li said in the beginning she wondered how the three makeup artists could work as one, for the same brand. “As a makeup artist, normally we work alone,” she said. “In terms of creations, we never share our visions with others. To be honest, it’s a bit lonely.”

At the outset she was a bit afraid of working with others in the collective. So Li secretly checked out their star signs to see if those jibed with hers. They did, and also, Li found an image from Paravina on her inspiration board and in her library there was a magazine whose cover Drammeh helped to create.

“The moment we met and started to talk about beauty, we clicked,” Li said. “The worry I had was completely gone.”

Each makeup artist works individually on ephemeral projects, such as seasonal collections, but they bounce ideas off each other and will collaborate on bigger projects looking ahead.

Drammeh pointed out that it’s not unheard of to have more than one makeup artist at Chanel. Dominique Moncourtois and Heidi Morawetz together crafted the house’s color cosmetics for almost three decades.

“It wasn’t alien to Gabrielle Chanel. She collaborated with different creatives,” Drammeh said. “We’re just following the path of the house.”

Ammy Drammeh, a member of Chanel’s Comètes Collective.
Ammy Drammeh, a member of Chanel’s Comètes Collective.

It’s one for which allure has always been key. To Paravina, allure is indistinguishable from movement. “There’s really this idea of something that is flowing and really hard to grasp or to catch,” she said. “In that way it is really linked to beauty. Beauty, when you try to define it, stop it and frame it, it starts becoming ugly.”

At the outset, Li did not know the meaning of allure. “For me, it’s very pure — it’s like attraction,” she said. “It can be a sense of feeling, the smells of the ocean when you vacation at the beach. It can be a great idea that pops up in your head. Everyone has their own perspective of allure.”

Allure’s meaning is hard to grasp, said Drammeh, “but that’s the beauty. [Allure] might move you toward something or someone. So, I like to compare it with energy. It’s something you find in objects, humans, friendships or places. It’s a great starting point to create a [makeup] collection.”

For the making-of the summer 2024 collection, she was inspired by the allure of nature and colors Gabrielle Chanel developed from that, like raspberries, greens and purples.

Li’s first collection, for spring 2024, is already on the market. “The moment I swim in the ocean, I feel this endless inspiration, this attraction — like the ocean is calling me — this ultimate freedom,” she said. “You’re isolated, but you’re not alone, surrounded by this amazing marine life with so many different forms and colors, it keeps inspiring us.”

So the hues she chose for makeup were inspired by such sea creatures.

Cécile Paravina, a member of Chanel’s Comètes Collective.
Cécile Paravina, a member of Chanel’s Comètes Collective.

Allure, to Paravina, has a sense of mystery. “It’s this intangible thing, but there’s many facets,” she said, explaining she tried in the fall 2024 collection to honor an element of Chanel’s personality: her passion for fortune telling. “A little bit like a fortune teller, she foretold what the future of design was made of.”

Paravina explained it was not difficult for the collective’s members to take the historic codes of the house and make them into their own, especially since they were able to visit Chanel’s patrimony. “We have now access to an amazing archive and also even her own apartment — we were able to visit it,” she said. “Thanks to this exclusive access to the house, we quickly picked up on a lot of things that were part of the ethos and what Gabrielle embodied.

“I was personally really touched by the way that she designed — she’s a no-compromise kind of woman,” Paravana continued. “[It] was super sincere.”

“She had it all,” Li said. “What we do here is infuse our different perspectives of beauty. We’re adding a little bit our twist inside.”

“The market is super saturated with new ideas and new things. What’s important is to stay true to ourselves,” Drammeh added. “If we follow what Gabrielle Chanel was doing, she was really staying true to herself.”

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