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Keep Calm And Create Art: Julie Cusson

 In the spirit of creativity and self-care, S/ presents Keep Calm and Create Art, a series exploring the meditative, rewarding, and soothing practice of making art during uncertain times. 

For the second installment, Chanel’s National Makeup Artist for Canada and regular S/ contributor, Julie Cusson, revisits our collaboration with Phoebe Tonkin and photographer Michelle Du Xuan in Saint Tropez, featured in our annual book S/Volume

Why did you revisit the Phoebe Tonkin photo shoot for this video? 

“All of this started with the lockdown and my craving to create again. Luckily S/ magazine gave me carte blanche to do something different. The idea to look back to a photo shoot came up, and the photo shoot with Phoebe Tonkin, photographed by Michelle Du Xuan, was naturally appealing. Revisiting an art piece is, in general, a creative process that echoes with fine art and literature. In fashion photography this approach is more unexpected. It’s simply not the ‘raison d’être’ of a fashion photo shoot because the initial objective is to create a statement in a specific moment and to showcase trends. Still today, I would not change anything about this shoot; the idea was not to redo something but more to extend what could happen!”

What do you remember most about this project?

“It was in July, I travelled to the south of France for this collaboration. I’m used to travelling to Cannes, but it was my first time going to St. Tropez. The location was beautiful and it was warm. Remembering the beach, the wind, blue sky; people walking in the narrow streets. And working with people face-to-face seems far and unreal, but I stay optimistic.”

How did you choose which palettes to work with? 

“What I love about makeup is something we also see in paintings; the relation between textures, shades and light. Naturally, I like to blend colours and textures; I’m attracted by liquid, baume, and glossy textures. With this in mind, liquid eye shadow and liner, brow wax, gel, powder, lipstick were my inspirations for Phoebe. I used these textures to bring out another dimension. My intention was to bring highlights, similar to some neoclassic paintings, to intensify the gaze and to bring another perspective. Phoebe has a captivating gaze that can also be quite intense–her energy is very powerful. So, by applying a sheer coat of powder around her eyes, this created an interaction that I felt revealed another side of her. I love contrasting subtlety with a bold colour; in this case her red lipstick. 

What did you find most fulfilling about using your craft to illustrate these images? 

“I feel there is a kind of human dimension with applying makeup on a photograph that you can’t find with a face chart. I worked a lot with my intuition just as when I’m on set, but of course without the interaction that you have with people, it was different. My synergy with the photographs was more introspective, but at the same time, I was feeling the thrill of discovering something new.”

Are there any mantras you swear by? 

“Everything is possible, and we need to believe in the power of inner projection.”

Products used for illustration: La Palette Sourcils in shade 03 Dark, Chanel, $65; Le Crayon Lèvres in shade 178 Rouge Cerise, Chanel, $37; Ombre Première Laque in shade 22 Rayon, Chanel, $42.