Monday, July 1, 2019

Beauty news: talking with Alex Chantecaille



When I met Alex Chantecaille (above, right) at the Mecca flagship store in Auckland’s CBD, I was going in as a major fan of the Chantecaille brand but keen to learn more about the family behind the beauty. The daughter of beauty visionary Sylvie Chantecaille (above, left), Alex is the director of sales and promotions for the company and spearheads the expansion from the key sales base of North America into super receptive Asia and beyond.
Since its inception 20 years ago, New York-based Chantecaille has been a quiet innovator in so many ways. Pioneers in the area of luxurious, botanical beauty, the brand has long been active in the area of philanthropy as well as creating high performance, naturally derived skincare and makeup. Their truly global products are made in Japan (foundation), Italy (powders and lipsticks), Switzerland (skincare) and France (fragrance and rosewater), and they see giving back what they take from nature as a given. They believe in the healing powers of flowers and plants, and build their formulas on pure ingredients and smart science. Their collections are also free of Phthalates, Sulphate Detergents, Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Palm Oil, Synthetic Colours, Synthetic Fragrances and GMOs, which is essential in an age of clean beauty and all that entails.
A key impetus for creating their company was a strong desire to establish a platform with the power to draw attention to important issues of global sustainability, and to fund a foundation that could support related initiatives. From what I know of Chantecaille, they have always had an awareness of the planet and its inhabitants, well before it was de rigueur to do so. Does Alex call the brand ‘natural’, or ‘clean’ beauty? Or has that become just another catchphrase? “We call ourselves natural,” the super chic blonde tells me. “I think the clean label is one that has come up recently, and it has surprised a few people when they find out how easily we fit into that category too. People are still amazed that luxury and natural can go together, whereas we’ve always seen that as a given.”
“When my mom started the company 21 years ago,” she continues, “her focus was on eliminating any nasties like phthalates, and producing a line with zero palm oil. It was purely personal preference and not a trend, and the lack of chemicals and fragrance were to allow the skin to do what it does best – heal.” Chantecaille skincare was always designed to support and soothe the skin and not stress it out, with Alex telling me: “cocooning the skin has been key since the beginning, and that’s done through beautiful, natural ingredients”.
Do they ever feel that now they have to shout their mission statement from the rooftops as the space is so crowded? “In a way, and I’m making sure we state on all of our packaging that we are PETA-certified and vegan, as that is just so important to consumers. And it should be.”
Chantecaille is classed as a luxury brand, and the price points support this. Is that ever a hard sell, I wonder? “Our formulas are very efficacious and the cost is in the product as we put a lot of money and time into creating formulas that do what they say they will,” says Alex with a smile. “For example, the rose we talk about is hand harvested, the rose water created from the petals of a rose that blooms for one month only in Grasse, France. The petals are dried in the sun and then boiled in artesian well water to produce the steam from which we create our rose water. It’s definitely no easy task.”
Philanthropy and conservation have always been at the heart of the brand, especially the makeup line. Is it true that each season, Chantecaille aligns its collection with an environmental cause? “Correct, and we’ve made our cheek and lip initiatives part of our permanent collection, with a permanent eye collection coming too.” She tells me that the idea to support environmental causes “came from my mom wanting to give back to nature after taking from it to create beautiful products, and she thought that by using a beautiful palette to tell an important story our customers would really engage. Each campaign lead to people wanting to know what the next animal to be supported would be and it turned on a conversation that wasn’t being had before”. Instead of just picking up the perfect lipstick and leaving a store, “a dialogue would start with a customer who would then continue that conversation with her friends, her husband, her children…”
One of Alex’s favourite, super luxe offerings from the brand is the Chantecaille Nano Gold Energizing Eye Serum (below), which I have been lucky enough to try. It uses the power of 24k Nano Gold to help prevent aging and improve cellular respiration by safely delivering healing botanicals deep into the skin, and it feels like a cooling dream to use thanks to its roller ball applicator. LycoSkin is included in the formula to prevent the breakdown of the cellular matrix and greatly strengthen the skin, whilst Raspberry Stem Cells deliver a robust array of antioxidants, reducing inflammation and slowing the aging process. The Anti-Wrinkle Hexapeptide has a Botox-like effect and visibly reduces the depth and length of wrinkles, whilst White Flower Stem Cells stimulate and repair collagen growth in skin cells, strengthening the thin skin around the eyes. Essentially, it delivers a power pack of anti-ageing ingredients to the eyes – and it feels like heaven. With an RRP of $360 this is definitely a ‘splurge’ as opposed to a ‘steal’, but if you’ve got the cash to spare then it comes highly recommended.
Chantecaille is available in New Zealand exclusively at Mecca Cosmetica and from www.meccabeauty.co.nz


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