How Chanel Developed Its LipScanner Technology

Chanel’s new LipScanner technology is an “efficient bridge between inspiration and product.”

LipScanner is an app that allows users to upload a picture of an item and match its color and texture to a product from Chanel’s lip range. The app functions via an artificial intelligence engine developed in-house by a team led by Cédric Begon, director of innovation programs and partnerships within Chanel’s Research team. It is available for download on iOS, with an Android version in the works.

Begon, who joined Chanel in 2014, has been working on LipScanner for 18 months. The project involved labeling “tens of thousands” of images, he told WWD in an interview, to “account for the multiplicity of morphologies, skin tones, facial expressions” in a variety of lighting conditions.

“Innovation is at the root of the company,” Begon said, noting that Chanel launched virtual in-store try-on in 2016. “Our founder was a fantastic innovator. Very humbly, we walk in her legacy and we try to perpetuate this notion of bringing to market clean, slick solutions with a sense of audacity.”

LipScanner, he noted, is “fully privacy-compliant,” and Chanel does not access photos uploaded to the app.

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“We don’t collect a single piece of personal data,” Begon said.

Begon declined to share how big Chanel’s Research team is, offering instead that it is made up of “machine learning experts” who work closely with Chanel’s makeup team, artistic department and marketers.

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Companies such as Gucci and L’Oréal have embraced virtual try-on via Snapchat during the COVID-19 pandemic, as stores closed and social media engagement spiked. Chanel outsources its virtual try-on capabilities, according to Begon, but LipScanner is the company’s own, patented technology.

“[LipScanner] relates intimately and closely to makeup usage,” Begon said. “If you want to do that properly you need to take into account visual perception. It requires a deep and intimate knowledge of what it means to choose a color and to get the feeling of adequate perception.”

Much like luxury design, AI, Begon continued, is “a craft.”

“AI fits well with what it means to innovate for a luxury house,” he said. “All AI experts at some point spend time designing their models, refining them step by step iteratively. The way you train it, the way you label the images, requires this craft ability.”

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