Chantal is pure creativity. Chantal is freedom. Chantal is a makeup artist, but for me, she is a great friend, and for us a generous and intelligent collaborator. Chantal is ever-evolving and does not do it with a trend, but with and within herself.
Chantal is a teacher with no secrets, she only has pieces of advice to dispense. We had met Chantal with our first interview here on The Italian Rêve and one thing was right away clear to everyone: we would never leave each other again. Because, when you meet a person who is ready to give everything, regardless of what she has done, without snobbery or cynicism, it is truly something precious, both on a human and professional level. And so began a path of knowledge and sharing to which we now wanted to give an extra something: we asked her to be herself in front of our lenses, to open up as she had never done before in an interview, to talk about herself, of her teens, but also of loss, loneliness, and trust, something that, with this experience together, we have all given ourselves.
We all have imperfections, many look at others with an eye of lack towards themselves and few manage to make peace with themselves, giving us the respect we deserve. And Chantal also talked to us about this: how difficult it is to be good to yourself, how hard the struggle that takes place within ourselves can be but how strong and proud of yourself you can be, and how, at times, love can really be a cure.
We, therefore, present to you our April Cover that, once again, with her words and her “getting naked” has given us so much and that we know can be an inspiration to all those who want to undertake a difficult path and who want open an important conversation on topics such as self-acceptance.
Chantal is as she is, with me, over a glass of red wine (and maybe a few tears).
If you think back to your childhood and adolescence, do you remember them as two completely different periods of your life? Do you think of your childhood as a happy time?
Yes, my childhood was certainly a happy moment of my life, until my last year of middle school; high school wasn’t as happy, instead. In high school, I kind of realized, all of a sudden, that the world was different from what I’d imagined. I gained a perception, also a physical perception, of myself very late in life. It came really late compared to my peers at the time and, as for the physical perception of myself, I gained it through other people. I discovered my physicality, the concept of appearance, of aesthetic, through the responses I got from the outside world. It was really weird for me, it wasn’t pleasant at all, to be honest. And you couldn’t tell from the way I looked, because I was such a nice girl, but I was actually super immersed in my own world.
As a girl, in that time of your life, did you ever feel attacked by other girls? Did you ever feel, somehow, bullied? Did you have to work on any situation of this kind?
Hell yeah. Especially, a time in my life, my first years in high school – even though all my high school years were like that, they were pretty hard for me. I remember this moment in which I was in the bathroom, it was my freshman year in high school, and I had already changed school by mid-year because I didn’t like the former one, so in this new school, in the bathroom, I heard two girls from the same class I was in who were talking about the birthday party of another girl, they were trying and organize the whole thing, and I heard them say, “no, let’s invite everyone but Chantal because otherwise, all the boys would only talk with her.”
My reaction to that was awful, it may sound crazy, and I don’t know how that happened, but somehow, as I wanted to be accepted so bad, I started to drastically change my looks, to hide myself, ugly up myself, wear horrible, super oversized clothes, and I still do this now, sometimes. If I wear tight clothes, or something sexy, that’s because I’ve woken up feeling particularly self-confident. My hair, too, I used to do crazy stuff with it, as well. You know, I got rid of all the pictures of myself that were taken in those years, I cut them and threw them away. My mom still has some of those, but we made a solemn pact that she would have never shown them to anybody.
It was me, but it wasn’t me, there visibly was something wrong.
“I discovered my physicality, the concept of appearance, of aesthetic, through the responses I got from the outside world.”
At that moment, did you feel like you needed someone, some help? Did you feel like you were missing something? How did you manage to deal with the situation? After all, you didn’t react by not caring, by “acting cool” with the boys, you reacted by hiding your body to try and convince these girls to accept you… How did you manage to get out of this?
By finishing high school, because my high school years went on all like that. That mechanism kind of stuck with me, to be honest, because, especially within the work environment I’m in now, where appearance is important (even though, now that I’m 34, I don’t care about it anymore), I realize that many people that I know are often quite surprised: many of them, in the beginning, have a certain approach that then changes as they get to know me better. I always notice a bit of suspicion, as if they think there’s something odd behind, some particular catch like, “ah, you’re cute, you’re a pretty girl, but you’re also down-to-earth, you’re smart, you read books, you care about what happens in the world, you have your own opinions…,” as if something clashed there, somehow, “what’s the catch? It’s impossible.” But I guess this is a consequence of the job I do now. Never, in my life, I thought I would have done the job I do now, of all the jobs I dreamt about and imagined doing, I never thought, not even once, I could turn makeup and beauty into a job, and this is weird.
Did you fall in love with it overnight, or was it kind of gradual?
It was gradual because it started out of necessity. I was studying at university, so, to pay for my studies and to make ends meet, in general, I started working and, instead of working as a waitress, I took a course in makeup; then I started with substitution jobs, in stores, perfume shops… and then I realized it was something that I really liked and was passionate about. I realized it when I accepted my first job after graduating. I used to have a different job before, in a company I really liked, a family-run import-export business, but then I realized it wasn’t the right job for me because, to quote my mother, “I shut down,” I went to work, I came back, but I “turned on” only when I went to work at MAC, for example. So, I wondered, “how is this possible, you’ve got the job for which you’ve studied, but you’re only happy when you are the store assistant?” all of this seen from my mom’s point of view, as well, who sacrificed a lot for me to pursue my studies.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a very supportive family, but only to some extent because they supported me, of course, but it wasn’t really impactful as I was already an adult, I was 23, I wasn’t a little girl anymore. So, let’s say I handled it on my own, with myself [laughs], but it was nice, I honed my introspection craft.
You were previously talking about your tendency to hide yourself, your lack of confidence, while now, for Chantal, what does it mean to be self-confident? Although it might still be something you’re fighting to be…
My self-confidence, to be honest, comes from my results. It often happens to me to feel down, emotionally, when I put a lot of effort into something and then I don’t see any results, so then I have doubts. I’ve always admired those people who never give up, no matter what, those are the people I admire the most in the world, the people who get thrown loads of shit on them every day and, despite all, they keep going their own way, they’re heroes to me, enlightened people. When I put all of myself into things and I don’t get any results, instead, I’m just like, “mea culpa” all the time because I realize I’ve probably done something wrong. However, I’ve learned to be a little more indulgent with myself, to also value external factors that don’t directly depend on me or that I cannot control. So, if I don’t get any results, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t worked hard enough or that I’m worthless, it means that maybe, at this moment, the market is looking for something else, or different kinds of feeds are fashionable on Instagram.
How about you instead? The idea of looking at yourself in the mirror, feeling self-confident, apart from work?
This question makes me cry, I don’t know why, I swear, maybe it’s the wine… [laughs] When I look at myself in the mirror, sometimes I don’t recognize myself, sometimes I think that, if I went back in time, I would do completely different things compared to what I’ve done. However, there are so many people who love me and, most importantly, who loved me when I needed it the most, that maybe told me “dumb” stuff like, “look how far you’ve come.” I’ll be honest with you – it’s probably my intellectually posh-self who’s speaking right now, and I say “posh” because I criticize myself in this sense, it’s something I both like and don’t like about myself – knowing that many people who dream of doing what I do, don’t get, didn’t get, will never get to live the experiences I’ve lived, I’m not going to say to my level, of course, the fact that I’ve got to have those kinds of experiences to me is a huge gift. I’ve earned it because, to be honest, I’ve never been recommended in my work, on the contrary, I’ve often had to fight to stand up for myself, so I obtained it with honesty, without expedients, with my work and my way of working.
My parents raised me in such a way that, if I got a good grade at school, my mom would only say to me, “you’ve done your job,” and never “well done,” and that was the right way of doing it, what you’re required to do is study, bring results. So, even just for those people who bust their asses but never get to have the possibilities I’ve had to do certain things when I look at myself in the mirror and maybe I’m feeling a little bit down, I say to myself, “yes, but remember there are people who would pay money to have done even just one of the experiences you’ve done, so don’t be a pain in the ass, Chantal.” [laughs]
“When I look at myself in the mirror, sometimes I don’t recognize myself…“
The three best and most significant “fuck yous” of your life, so far?
One “fuck you” was for a company for which I used to work, which gave me a lot, and to which I gave a lot as well, for some dynamics that, there and then, I didn’t understand, but now I get them a little bit better because I know the field, even though I still don’t share them. However, I know it’s actually a step forward, it means I’ve grown up over these years; I had outgrown my role there, and not because I wanted to get some kind of recognition, I just wanted to have a possibility that I would have returned with all myself. When I realized I was giving so much of my energy to a company that wasn’t ready, that couldn’t, didn’t want to, and had its own internal, absolutely understandable dynamics – so no criticism, actually, towards the company – I said, “that’s enough.” There was a moment when I regretted it, maybe at the beginning, when you quit a safe job, with a steady monthly salary, something I needed because I’m not in a position where I can say, “no, I’m not working this month.” But it paid me off, too, even in my hardest times, I was happy about what I was doing, even if it wasn’t much, I really did it with all my heart and, most importantly, I went back home at night and I was like, “fine, I haven’t earned any money, but I did what I like;” obviously, I don’t have kids to support financially, so I could afford that.
My second big “fuck you” was a super toxic relationship I had with a boy I really, really liked, I don’t even know why, but, in the very moment, I pronounced that “fuck you,” my life, and my work life, too, took a completely different turn. That one was a “fuck you” I said with rage and exasperation.
The third one is quite recent, and it is a “fuck you” I said with love because when I said it, there was still a lot of love, but it was probably the most important “fuck you” ever because I said it for myself, not like those kinds of “fuck you, I hate you, I don’t love you anymore, you’ve hurt me,” no, it was a “fuck you, I’m putting myself first, my wishes first” and, to be honest, it’s also a quite recent “fuck you” I said between lots of tears and suffering, but ever since I’ve said it, my life took once again a completely different turn in just a short time, and not only at work, but also romantically speaking.
Have you ever felt – or do you ever feel – lonely? How did you process loneliness in the past and how do you process it now?
A friend of mine once, in high school, told me, “Chantal, loneliness is the fate of all great spirits.” I tell myself this quote every time I’m feeling lonely, as if to say, “Chantal, if you’re feeling lonely, that’s because your spirit, as great as it is, can’t find a traveling companion as great, but you’re alone with yourself and that’s fine, you need that, your spirit is expanding, and so, it’s feeling lonely.” That’s how I see it. By the way, that’s the reason why I got my “never alone” tattoo, lots of people ask me what it says because you usually manage to read four fingers only, so “neve” and “lone” [laughs]. The truth is I got it as a reminder that, even when I’m feeling very lonely, I’m not and I will never be because I’m surrounded by so many people who love me, I have an incredible family, and even those who passed away are always there, looking at me from up above.
“fuck you, I’m putting myself first, my wishes first.”
What makes you feel safe, instead?
Dinner at my mom’s… My mom is undoubtedly what makes me feel the safest. My mom always tells me, “those who have a mom don’t shiver,” she always says that. Another thing that makes me feel safe is when my dad calls me “my little dumpling,” he still calls me that, I could lose 500 kilos, I could be super skinny, or I could weigh 200 kilos, I could be 70 years old, I swear, my dad would call me “little dumpling” no matter what, and I’m the only one he calls that way.
Right now, I feel safe when I’m with my partner, which is very strange for me because I’ve never relied on a man who’s not a member of my family. In my family, we say these crazy, heavy things about romantic partners like, “they’re sticking blood;” it’s intense, it’s a beautiful saying, actually, because it gives value to lineage and, at the same time, it makes you realize that it’s wrong to think that a person who loves you is not your blood because they are, they’re just “sticking blood,” meaning that as far as you have it, it’s yours, otherwise, you’ll move on anyway.
It’s very strange to me to think that I can feel safe with a person, and I don’t mean between their arms, but literally with a person who, before we met, didn’t even know I existed, and I didn’t know they existed either. It had never happened to me before, in my life, but there was this one time, when I was younger, where I was in a bar and a lady, a fortune teller, approached me at the counter and, looking straight at me, out of nowhere, she said, “you will find love as a grown-up.” Do you know how long I’ve waited for this “grown-up” thing? I was a grown-up at 20, I was a grown-up at 27, I was a grown-up at 30… and I used to say to myself, “fuck, will I be a grown-up at 31?” No! Now I’m 34, and I say to myself, “perhaps, now I’m grown-up enough!”
What has your experience of violence been like, in your life? I’m not necessarily talking about physical violence, but also psychological, so both a slap or even just the pressure of the society in which we were born… I often think about how hard it must be to be a young girl today, for example.
I totally respect today’s young people. You often hear these boomer sayings about today’s youth being adrift… In my family, we often talk about these kinds of topics: our parents’ generation – people born between the ‘50s and the ‘60s – is made of people who had everything, who had the possibility to find a job, to pursue the job of their dreams, people who managed to find a steady job, who saved money, who bought a house; then, there’s our generation, people born in the ‘80s, the most penalized ever, because people born from the ‘90s on had the technological upgrade, which is something we didn’t have instead, we learned it, while they were born in it and grew up with it. I can see the difference between me and my brother, who was born in 1994, he’s a notch above because he could do many more things, in fact, he’s very young but he’s done much more stuff.
However, I define myself, as a member of my generation, a “warrior,” which is also what my mom calls me; today, you need to be a “ninja” [laughs], to be warriors is not enough, you need to be ninjas. Thinking back to my younger self, I’m not sure I would have survived today’s society considering how sensitive I used to be. How can you look at yourself in the mirror and accept yourself, today? There are standards to meet… When I was in middle school, there were no standards, there was the girl with big boobs, and we all envied her because of her big boobs.
My standard was the TV showgirls from “Striscia la notizia,” which is sick if you think about it…
Mine was still the Barbies’ era, which was maybe worse than TV showgirls because TV showgirls are real, at least, they can move, they can dance… What do Barbies do? Nothing. Today, it’s even worse, a terrifying version of the Barbies, maybe, something you don’t know, you can’t see, but it’s still able to tell you how it lives and what it does through social media, and you idealize not only a physical appearance, but also a lifestyle, and you aim at that very lifestyle. The biggest difference I notice is this one: when I accepted my first jobs, I never asked about my salary because what mattered to me was to work and gain experience; today, you can’t even talk about the importance of reading a contract anymore because the only thing that matters is “how much money I can make with this daily engagement, if it’s worth it, fine, if it’s not, I’d rather do nothing.”
This is often the way it is because there’s this sort of fantasy of easy money that you can actually make. Not surprisingly, there’s this recently released movie starring influencer Giulia De Lellis who, I have to admit, has really built an empire, but she’s an example of the controversy over influencers, which is why I’ll never call myself an influencer also because I will probably never make as much money as an influencer does [laughs], only because of that, not because I’d despise them.
“Today, you need to be a “ninja,” to be warriors is not enough.”
But also because you’re an expert, you’re a Pro-Makeup artist, so it’s different. If you influence people, you do that through your technique, through your positive message, through the way you take care of your skin, yours is not an influence that comes from a certain lifestyle based on “nothing;” yours is an influence of aspiration, which is what you do through your courses, as well, you teach, you do something educational, something important that can be of help.
I’d like to do much more. There are times I would want to go on Instagram and post some stories to say something, but then I say to myself, “no, come one, they’ll think I’m crazy.” What stops me is the thought that maybe it wouldn’t be in line with my profile because I would maybe speak about topics that are different from makeup and beauty, so I think that people might say, “what the hell is Chantal talking about? World situations, or social issues?” I don’t know…
It’s right to hesitate because you obviously have a very specific profile, and everyone knows your intelligence, kindness, because it shows from your work, your courses, and what you say, like the course we did together not long ago, where you said, “there’s no such thing as trade secrets, it’s all about sharing things, no one will ever do that thing the way I do it, no one will do it the way you do it.” That’s very important. I grew up with the idea – and not because I was told so by my parents, who have always been my supporting flag, always there for me – that I could never get that far because another person did; on the contrary, you’re saying “I got this far, these are my ‘secrets,’ and I’m sharing them with you because we’re all different from each other because each one of you can take from me whatever they manage to, we’re all unique.” This thing you’re saying is incredibly generous, maybe you don’t realize that…
I hope so [laughs]. However, going back to what we were saying about violence, yes, today’s society is violent, and it’s crazy how, if I think about Instagram, all Instagram filters are inversely proportional to the filters people use to communicate with each other. There’s incredible evilness, incredible violence.
Have you ever been bullied and experienced violence on social media?
Honestly, besides comments on my physical appearance, no, I haven’t, but those comments I got about my looks made me smile because I know how many fucking battles I’ve fought against my physical appearance, to accept myself, so whoever rails against me will find a stone wall, already hardened by all those times I railed against my own self. So, actually, that kind of violence doesn’t affect me at all. I think I have a quite loyal community, a quality community, I think I have some quality followers, intellectually speaking, people I admire because they somehow have some kind of sensibility because if you follow me, who don’t represent what is popular on social media today, and yesterday, and last year, it’s because you go beyond and, maybe, see something different; I’m not saying that what I do is different, unique, but it’s certainly different from a trend. I don’t do trendy things, because I can’t do them, I just can’t, I’ll leave them to people who are better than me at doing those kinds of things, and there are certainly people who are better than me. Some makeup looks, for example, those exaggerated ones that I’m ashamed of going out with, I don’t do them on me, I want to put makeup on my face, film myself, and say “holy shit, look how cool I am, I would go out with this makeup on.”
However, besides this, I found myself having to do with some people, people I used to be in relationships with, who had violent attitudes towards me: I don’t want to justify them, but I’ll say this because we all experience dark times. I, myself, have been violent in some conversations I had with people I was in a relationship with, not with random people, but I felt terribly ashamed of those things I said, and I’m still ashamed. I’ve apologized, and I apologize, maybe they were small gestures, but scornful, they hurt the person I was with, simply because I had my reasons, but maybe I could have expressed them in a different way.
This new format, these types of interviews that we have created, aim at talking about mental health, and everything we have been talking about so far is part of it. However, personally, and I have said it more than once, makeup and skincare, but above all makeup, truly feel like therapy, because through makeup I can discover more of my face. I can look at myself more, I learn to look at myself, I can understand that, perhaps, what I thought were flaws can become something to appreciate. That’s why I may not always wear makeup, but when I do, it’s a magical moment for me. How do you experience makeup? Obviously, it’s work for you, so it must have a different feeling, but are there moments in which, for you, makeup is self-discovery, a moment for you?
Yes. In quarantine, for example, at the very beginning of all this chaos, I would wear makeup at weird times, and do things that I ended up never taking photos of, but I experimented, putting and taking off makeup, and time felt extended, always the same, so makeup kind of marked the days a bit, it helped me a lot at that moment. Believe me when I say there were times when I would finish a bottle of wine by myself, talk to myself, dance alone, like some hysterical madwoman, but we’ve all done this, and those who say they haven’t, lie, or maybe they had the good fortune not to be alone during lockdown; I, on the other hand, was alone quite a lot, but it did me good.
But, in general, I always say that my face bores me because I’ve been putting makeup on it since forever. The thing that helps me the most, fools me and makes me smile, and laugh at myself too, is to notice, year after year, that the makeup techniques I used three years ago are no longer good for today’s Chantal, something like “but when did that eyelid start to fall out? But what is this wrinkle?” or “Chantal, when did you start needing to use an orange concealer for dark circles? You’ve never had dark circles, ” or “since when did this super-covering foundation make you look ten years older? And these super pearly eyeshadows, why don’t they look good on you anymore?” [laughs]. Or, I ask myself: “why don’t you look good with lipstick anymore?” This was a shocking thing for me, I now appreciate my lips more with nothing on them, maybe just with a transparent gloss, and it’s not just a trend talk, it just feels too much on my face now.
It is a strange phase because if I were to see me as aged, I would tell you that a touch of lipstick gives you light, and technically it is true, but then, putting on your makeup, uncovering your face, you realize that the written (and right) rule doesn’t actually work. This is what I say even when I teach self-makeup because teaching a person who aspires to become a makeup artist is one thing, but teaching a woman, with her insecurities, to wear makeup is a whole other story, there you have to take these things into account.
So, for me, makeup is a way to relax. Many people ask me how I shoot the tutorials … and I’m about to tell you the truth: I drink a glass of wine, put on my favorite music, set up my workstation and I start putting makeup on, without looking at the time. Sometimes, I realize I’ve just spent three hours like this, doing what? Nothing because maybe I focus on the detail, I try a product and then I take it off, or I get distracted because I have a quite short attention span, and maybe my sister calls me while I do it. Calling my sister, who lives in another country, so I don’t see her often, and talking to her on speakerphone while doing my makeup is a kind of therapy for me because it’s as if she was there, it’s sharing a moment between women.
“I drink a glass of wine, put on my favorite music, set up my workstation and I start putting makeup on…”
What’s the latest thing you’ve discovered about yourself?
That I can give trust.
Trust doesn’t exist for me. The trust exists when you give it, there is no a priori trust, it is a choice, you decide to trust something or someone, but it is something that starts with you. When you say “s/he has lost my trust,” it doesn’t mean that he or she has lost it, it is you who took it away from them, and this is an important thing, in my opinion. You can also give trust to a person who does not deserve it, but it is your choice. I realized that I can trust the people I work with, stately even you, but stately for shit, just the fact that I confide in you with things and don’t ask you anything … You tell me certain things because you are super professional, super open and super communicative, but if you didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t even ask you, I don’t care. I am like that, and for this reason, now I have learned, because many times I’ve been screwed over, I have been deeply disappointed by this.
I also understood that I will be an eternal child, for many things, trivially even the fact of being amazed, even today, by the slaps in the face that you get from people for no reason, I am still amazed, or rather, I still feel bad. It means that I’ve not gotten used to it, and it’s better this way, I don’t want it, I don’t want to get used to it. I still want to be amazed by the fact that I trust a person, to be in love with a person, to be in love with my work, to be amazed again by the rendering of a foundation, I don’t ever want this to change, and that’s why I like it when they tell me, “You can see the passion.” There is passion, but more than passion, it is amazement, I am so amazed, and if I had to make one wish, among many, I would say, “I would like to continue to get amazed this much.”
The “yes, oh well, but …” or the “I knew that much” annoys me, and in my life, the people I feel very close to (very few), whom I am really friend with, are people who, like me, are still amazed by things, who, like me, still have a lot of useless insecurities (like you), but I feel them, they are real. Then, for some things I am cynical, but I am very cynical with myself, not towards the world, I don’t like cynicism in the world, it would be the end, the closure.
“There is passion, but more than passion, it is amazement, I am so amazed, and if I had to make one wish, among many, I would say, ‘I would like to continue to get amazed this much’.”
Earlier you talked about the lockdown, about all these months of quarantine: is there something that psychologically saved you? Maybe a routine…
I still had my dog with me, and that dog – which I’d had for a few years because he was already old when I took it from the kennel – marked my life in its worst moments. I remember a time when I was in Venice, for work, a few years ago, a very bad time, I was in such a condition that I could not set foot outside the house, after getting back from work, I would take my “mask” off and it was just me, and that dog, who had to be taken out to do its things, and he was waiting for me, he would not pee inside, he would wait for me, he made me feel useful. Even in quarantine, beyond all the jokes that have been made like “I’ll lend you the dog to go for a walk,” having something to take care of, depending exclusively on you, like a child, has marked a lot of my days. This is also to say that when something goes away in your life, a person or a dog, as in my case, somehow does it at a time that is never right and will forever be wrong, but, incredibly, you don’t know how, it goes away in a moment in which you, then, are forced somehow to look at something else, to take care of something else and you do it anyway. In my case even more so, Milo left me when a person entered my life, someone, who, for the first time in my life, really kept me company. I don’t know, maybe it’s a motivation that we find, but it could also mean that life goes on anyway.
It helps to understand that even the worst things, which make you feel the most alone in the world, happen to teach you to look at the bright side.
Because the incredible thing is that people die, dogs die, everything ends, but there is only one thing that does not end: the world. This world will go on anyway, with or without human beings. I hear that we must protect the environment, but it is not that we must do it for the environment, it is not an X love for trees, nature, animals; we must safeguard the environment and make conscious choices, even by changing our lifestyle, not for the world, because fuck this, the world goes on, but for the people who after us will not have the opportunity to live because we have decided that we like to do things in a certain way, and that is selfish.
What is the thing you’re most often told and that you are tired of hearing?
Honestly, there is not one thing that has tired me, partly because I have wonderful people close to me, they’re not repetitive, I choose them well, and partly because I always change, so maybe for a month, you say one thing, but the next month I am another person. There is an evolution, both in the people I have close to me and in who I am.
I think personal evolution is necessary. If I think of people who may feel they have arrived and have stopped there, for me it is an inconceivable thing…
Only God stops. Who are you, are you God? No [laughs].
Every time someone tells me something, I think about it, it’s food for thought for me, I hardly take it as a criticism. I’m Roman, so I’m not easily offended, I’m not touchy, even if you hit me in the heart, then and there I might feel bad, but then I go home, I go to bed and I say to myself, “well, but if he told you this thing, Chantal, it means that you still have to work on it … Or maybe he’s just wrong!” [laughs].
You mentioned the theme of loss, which can concern a job, a person, an animal. How have you dealt with loss in your life and how much has it really given and taken away from you?
Loss is magic if you think about it: there is a person, and then this person is not there anymore. It’s shit magic, bad magic. For example, I lost my grandmother, suddenly, out of nowhere; apart from the initial shock, the fact that you cannot physically see this person anymore, for me it is as if it were not a loss, I still speak of my grandmother in the present tense. To me, she was a mother, a friend, and I still can’t watch my grandmother’s videos, I have them on my phone, but I can’t watch them, because it would be like watching a video of a friend that I could see at any time, as if I can’t see her because I’m far away, and I can’t go and see her, but I feel her presence.
I think loss is something we must make peace with; loss is not something to be faced. In my opinion, we live in a world where people say that “we have to face loss, process it,” and these are statements that you hear and make, and it’s okay, but in reality, it’s like a caress on your head, there is no loss to deal with, in the sense that the loss is real, but if that person is still in your head, then they are not leaving just because they are physically gone.
Sometimes I close my eyes, squeeze them hard, squeeze my hands and I seem to touch her, I imagine her, I hold her tight, I don’t want to let her go. Then, instead, some losses physically exist, people, you thought you would have forever in your life and then you don’t have them anymore, but more than losses, those are choices. So, when the choices are so mutual, they can’t hurt, just as it can’t hurt forever that a person is gone. It doesn’t hurt forever, you miss them forever, but you can miss the trip you took in high school with your friends forever, you will miss that moment forever because it matters.
You face, even with your work, many important situations as you did in Sanremo, with Måneskin, but also before, with Levante, situations that might make you anxious. For example, I am a person who has suffered from panic attacks, when you have them you think you are about to die, that’s the only thing you can think about. Have you ever suffered from panic attacks or anxiety in general?
I had my first severe anxiety attack when I was younger, once, when I was in China and I was convinced that I had the wrong plane ticket and that I was still in one place while the plane had already left. To this day, missing a flight is still a recurring dream of mine. Then, I had a huge anxiety attack before leaving for Coachella. After the security check at the airport, I fainted; they took me out to the infirmary, and there, luckily, I had some soothing drops that my mom had given me because, according to her doctor, “no woman can walk without Tranquirit, ” like “Yves Saint Laurent lipstick and Tranquirit,” which is very Marilyn Monroe [laughs]. Luckily, those drops helped me a lot, otherwise, I wouldn’t have left and I probably would have lost a great experience.
I had a real panic attack quite recently, and to the person who was with me I just said “call my mom”, and immediately after “no, don’t call her.” There, I started to understand that I had to calm down, somehow, so I admit that I have great mind control over myself, I am much more self-aware now. But it was the first one to be so strong, and it lasted a long time, I was “dying,” I was convinced of that, but I remember what my thoughts were before “dying.” A panic attack is a very common thing today because we are stressed, pushed to always give our best, and we don’t listen to ourselves.
“A panic attack is a very common thing today because we are stressed, pushed to always give our best, and we don’t listen to ourselves.“
In my opinion, it should also be normalized, in the sense that we should talk about it and say, “if you have it, there’s nothing wrong with taking ten drops of that, or talking to someone about it”…
Exactly. That time, I ran home, and I managed to go up the stairs only because I knew that I had those drops at home. The thing that reassured me was that I knew that after taking those drops, I would have been fine. Some things have to be dealt with chemically, it’s not possible to deal with them in any other way. After that episode, for two months I did not leave the house without the drops in my bag, and just the idea of not having them caused me anxiety, while the fact of having them calmed me. Then, once you’ve been dealing with panic attacks for a while, you are able to handle them, because you recognize them, recognize the signs, the alarms, the tingling running through your hands, the shortness of breath; these are things that make you understand that you are having a panic attack, so you say “okay, I’ll take a walk.”
Totally changing the subject here: what is sensuality for you?
Sensuality for me is many things. What for me is sensual is always imperfect, I can’t see sensuality in perfection, there is nothing sensual in something perfect. I find sensual an imperfect woman who shows herself with ease, who smiles, who likes herself, that for me is sensual. For example, if you have a chubby arm, and you put on a tank top, and you raise your arms without problems, and you like yourself, for me, there is nothing more sensual than that. I can tell you what helps me feel sensual: definitely to feel loved. There is nothing to do, love is a fucking cure for everything, and if you think about the fact that it costs nothing, but it’s so difficult to get it, it’s incredible.
Are you afraid of failure?
Yes. But I can tell you that my idea of success has changed. Success in private life is now also contemplated, rather than in work. This is my goal, from here to infinity: focus on my personal life, affections, love, relationships. It is a type of investment I had never made because I was not ready. Now, on the other hand, I think I feel ready, I think great success is being happy especially in your own life when the lights are turned off, you turn off also your phone and throw it away, and then when you have to say, “I don’t know where my phone is, call me because I can’t find it,” that is a great success because it means that you didn’t think about it, that you did so many beautiful things without that thing there, you were yourself, in a beautiful context.
That, for me, is success.
How important is it for you to be consistent with yourself or, on the contrary, sometimes not to be consistent at all?
I am not consistent at all when I talk about makeup because, in my work, the first thing I teach in my courses is: never trust those who tell you “never” and “always,” these are two lies, they don’t exist and they are deleterious, philosophically wrong.
When I speak of consistency, I speak of fidelity, I don’t think it is necessary to be consistent because today I can say one thing and, in a year – or the next day, if, like me, you are “bipolar” [laughs] – I can say the opposite. It is important to remain true to yourself, even if that may mean you have to change your mind. I’ll give you an example: imagine that the two of us are two trees next to each other; I don’t judge you by the color of your flowers, or what shape they have, but I judge you by the shape of your trunk. That is, the trunk is my core, my basic principles, then, one spring I dress in blue, and one summer I dress in pink, it doesn’t change the way things are, I am that, but I have the right to evolve and change shape, but the essence remains that trunk. So, it is important to be faithful to that essence.
What does it mean for you to have respect for yourself?
Respect for myself, for me, is not being satisfied.
What was your greatest act of rebellion?
As a young girl, I fell in love with a girl, a friend of mine, and I told my mom, screaming it in her face, like a madwoman [laughs]. That was my great act of rebellion, being myself when I wanted to, and it is not something that has to do with sexuality, but it has to do with self-formation. Especially in the teenage years, we go through moments that I wouldn’t call “confusion,” you know when they say, “no, she’s a bit confused”… I’m not confused, I am what I am. At that moment, I was 15, I had feelings for a girl, a person of my same sex, and I yelled it at my mom, and that for me was one of the strongest moments of self-affirmation I have ever had. A great moment of rebellion, because it was something that belonged to me, a really strong thing, somehow, in that moment there. This was my first major act of rebellion.
What would you personally call “essential”?
What I would call “essential” is freedom, and freedom is health, which is a great lesson that I learned, and we often forget it, but also the freedom to be and the freedom to do, and to do with yourself what you want, especially in a world like ours. Do I want to change? Do I want to change something about myself? I can do it. I do it permanently, or I do it temporarily, one day I dress like a man, the other day I dress like a woman, one day I sleep until noon, the next day I get dressed at 6 am and walk 10 km. The freedom to be what you really want to be is important, however, and I’ll emphasize this, freedom, today, often turns into selfishness. We are in the moment of “live it all now;” in part, it is right, but what is wrong is the way it’s translated: for me, it is not the “everything and now,” but the “enjoy and appreciate and fully experience everything and today, now and here, live in the present moment with an eye to the future and with the memory of the past, remember where you come from and imagine that what you leave will stay for someone else after you because it’s not just you.” It is important, even on a psychological level, to live in the here and now, you have to value it and live it fully, but you must remember where you come from, and you must also respect the fact that what you leave will be found by someone else after you, it is a bit like going to the bathroom and saying, “leave it clean for those who come after you,” the signs in the bathroom are a way of life, I love them, I often photograph them [laughs].