Make-up artist Lucia Pica’s top tip? Lipstick first
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest Style news every morning.
My personal style signifier is a vintage suit. I have so many: I go back to Naples and there’s a tiny little shop called Doctor Vintage, and he’s my guy. He’s not a tailor, but he sources everything himself and has a good eye. I find all these nice old ’70s linens – usually light blue or dark blue. It’s men’s tailoring but I don’t really change much. And then there is the birthmark on my hand. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve met people who have seen it as this beautiful, attractive, interesting thing. When I was younger, there was this moment where I wanted to look like everyone else. And then I came to understand, well, this is part of me – I’m not going to be sorry about it for the rest of my life. I carry it well now. I am who I am.
The last thing I bought and loved was a The Row velvet evening bag, with a thin strap. It’s speaking to my nostalgic ’90s mood. I like things that are not too obvious or of the “now” – not screaming something.
The place that means a lot to me is Naples, because I was born there, and because I feel like if you survive that, you’re good! It’s interesting, it’s difficult, it’s a place with strong energy. When I think of the city, I think of the summer when the light turns orange and warm and there’s the contrast of the blue of the sea and sky. There’s also the texture of the air – this density, because the heat makes it quite heavy and sensual. I know I’m home when I land off the plane and smell the scent of the city. I get this feeling of unconditional love.
I’ve recently rediscovered breathing space. In the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to work on projects that sound interesting to me, like my work with Byredo, but I’ve also given myself more time to think, which allows for more creativity. I read this quote in a book recently that says, “your life is what you do every day”, quite simply that. It really shocked me. Life isn’t this idea; it’s what happens every day.
The best souvenir I’ve brought home is art equipment: for example, some Japanese watercolours. I do my own quite naïve watercolours – I’m not prolific, but every now and then I sit there and play with colours and something happens. Watercolour is such a nice medium because it’s kind of like it has its own life. You have to follow and see where it goes.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is The Body Keeps the Score. It’s about how the body keeps the memory of trauma and how the new generation of psilocybin and psychedelics can help with that. I find microdosing fascinating. I’ve read Michael Pollan’s book but I’m leaning more towards this one.
My style icon is Lauren Bacall, for her casual masculine-feminine vibe. The suits, the shirts, the lipstick, good brows, cheekbones, hair. Her look was so consistent. I’m thinking of that picture of her in a white shirt with the cigarette and the orange lipstick.
The best gift I’ve given recently was make-up to my mum’s friends – they get so beyond excited. I sometimes give them makeovers, though less and less because I’m usually so busy. But they love them. If I give them a make-up or beauty tip on how to do something, it really touches them. The tip I usually give people is: use less foundation. Your skin is not as bad as you think it is. So use thin, glowy foundation with concealer where needed.
And the best gift I’ve received is a star, which my friend named “Lucia” for me.
The last music I downloaded was quite embarrassing – a Bad Bunny track, though my niece thinks it’s really cool. I was on holiday with my friend. But my favourite song of all time is “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave.
The beauty staple I’m never without is lipstick. Before mascara and sometimes even before foundation, I put colour on my face. Lipstick first. I used to use a lot of NARS. Then I started to create for Chanel so I had a few favourites there. From the last Byredo collection I like Scarlet River, which is between a gloss and a lipstick. It’s quite easy to apply because it’s got a pointy applicator so follows the shape of your mouth. Sometimes I use pencils underneath as well. Lipstick is about a feeling for me – you brighten your face, you brighten your mood. Recently I’ve been wearing Transported, a reddish/burgundy brown, which I created for the Byredo collection that’s coming out in February.
I have a collection of jeans and white T-shirts, because I’m always on the search for the perfect example of each. The closest I’ve come so far is a Margaret Howell T-shirt – a men’s one. It has a good neck, is really strong and a bit more elevated. And for jeans, probably a pair of straight-leg, mid-rise jeans my vintage dealer in Naples found for about €20. I’ll also trawl the old-fashioned underwear shops in Italy – for little labels such as Cagi.
In my fridge you’ll always find Parmesan. In an Italian household you have to have that. Blueberries, goat’s milk yoghurt, French cheeses and charcuterie of some kind. White wine, beers. I like to have a little bit of everything. Among my friends I’m considered a good cook but at home I’m considered the least successful in the kitchen – they all cook amazingly well and I’m always the little sister, though very well looked after.
The thing I couldn’t do without is a bathtub. It’s not very eco, and I am trying on that front. I’m turning my radiators off but I run a bath… I don’t think I could take a house or a hotel without a bath. It’s the quickest way to ground yourself, especially when you go to a different country. Being in that element is comforting.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a Celine tuxedo, to wear to a wedding. That kind of wider cut in a tuxedo is quite hard to find and Hedi Slimane does suits so very well.
The object I would never part with is a George Nakashima coffee table I bought a few years ago at a vintage auction that I think I will take with me wherever I go. It has a very organic, natural shape and has such simplicity and elegance to it.
The one artist I would collect if I could is Cy Twombly. No question. I love the naïvety, the colours… I’ve just bought a book about the houses he had in Rome and Gaeta. I love his aesthetic – I’d love to live in his world. For my moodboards, when I’m developing make-up, I’ll often look at someone like Rothko. It’s about texture as much as colour – the two have to work in combination when I’m planning a product. A shiny red and a matte red are two very different things.
My wellbeing guru is my yoga instructor Tatiana Avila Bouru, who does a very upbeat, dynamic yoga class. And I do Pilates in a studio, Rituel. It’s five minutes from my house. Sometimes I see Elaine Huntzinger here for acupuncture, including face acupuncture. I get a lot of shoulder pain from my work, so I need to keep moving. Next on my list since I moved to Paris is finding an osteopath.
An indulgence I would never forgo is crisps. British crisps and also the Italian San Carlo Rustica wavy ones. It’s a very commercial brand but they are my favourite.
My favourite building is the Luis Barragán house in Mexico City. The blocks of colour together with the wood and the organic natural feel to things is so beautiful to me. I was so impressed when I saw it.
My favourite room in my house is the living room. It’s got two sofas, and plants around and this beautiful wooden bookshelf. It all feels quite warm and it faces the Jardin du Luxembourg so it’s got green to look out on. I like to host a lot of lunches and dinners. The dining room faces the park also.
Some of my best ideas have come from boredom. Or, conversely, from conversations with friends. Either way, it’s about creating that space to think or let ideas bubble up.
The best bit of advice I ever received was on an uphill walk with my friend last summer that I was finding challenging, and she said, “It’s when you push your limits that the magic happens.” I laughed, then I thought about it. I liked the idea that you could break through boundaries you’d made for yourself. It’s about getting outside of the box and being comfortable being uncomfortable.