The blue blood of Naples
Text Carlo Mazzoni
The colours of Naples from the Seventeenth Century are brightened up by the light of the Eighteenth Century – when a court, more brilliant than Paris and Madrid, existed here. Lucia Pica was born and lived in Naples, before her path led her in London and Paris, from makeup artist to creative director of Chanel beauty collections. In Posillipo, at Villa Lauro, Lucia Pica told how the colours for nail polishes, face powders and lipsticks were mixed with the most complicated shades of Naples colours – amidst contrasts and tensions of a city made of love and grudge, alleys of glory, vigour and defeat.
Noble and black ink, a cut in the glass. The shimmering drops range from red to violet. Naples’ colours are the glares of blood trickles of the people who live in here, lost in the fire and in the destiny of the city. A scale of purple, cardinal red, roses of orchids and velvets for queens. Capodimonte. The iridescent reflection of silk taffeta, of blown ceramics – of the sea of the gulf, under Capri rocks. A glare that blends and condenses everything, liquid, which turns into Mannerism.
Naples’ colours are those of rust, turning to iron, close to copper. Blue, violet and green mushrooms. Shadows over peeling plasters, shadows of clotheslines over the street for hanging bed sheets. Broken posters, the ones loved by Mimmo Rotella, scraps of Roman mosaics. Beaches of sulphur over the surf of turquoise, oil and tar-coloured waves, electric cables over a tram cords. The azure-green tones of old moulds stretch to the stone studs of a church gate, to the steeples bases.
The tails of mermaids, the veils of sibyls, the short damp of a shadow. The mosaics fissures, the light-blue of ashes remaining from embers, from lava. The total green of a Ficus Benjamina. Grass grows over ruins, edges and amidst the scaffolds of an abandoned building site. Seaweeds, limestone, green corals – the peacocks’ eyes, the closed shutters on the balcony under clouds of rain, in the early hours of a lazy afternoon, coated with enamel. The yellow ochre colour of Santa Chiara majolica tiles, in the shadows of stone banners of low reliefs, pistils of a wild daisy that grows within the cobblestones on the quarter boundaries, amidst graffiti and votive candles.
And yet red, in the end – red is everywhere, on lips and cheeks, on nails and eyelashes. Red of Mount Vesuvius lava, the definite and ancient red of Pompeii, of the fishnet threads, the red of cornini (horn-shaped amulets), chili peppers, exposed brickworks over flat roofs like in Africa – red saffron pistils over pink – the sunset on the other side of Sorrento, buoys for skiffs in the open sea. And yes, I wanted to write this, just this: the colours of Naples, for the lips of Gabrielle Chanel, in a new spring.