Ambra Medda, Co-Founder & Creative Director, L’ArcoBaleno


"I was born on a tiny island in Greece, and I grew up in Milan and London. I consider myself Italian. I studied Chinese, and came to New York with the ambition of selling Chinese art, but felt uninspired by the art world—it was too commercial and not my vibe. I was really familiar with design, so instead I decided to start an art show called Design Miami at Art Basel. We did one in Basel, Switzerland, too. It was a big success. I was the director for six years, but left two years ago to start a new project, L’, a Berlin-based website that’s half editorial and half e-shop for art, furniture, jewelry, and even things for children. It’s mostly high-end pieces, but we’re integrating more affordable options every day. There’s also a blog on the site that I update every day. My talent is not in tech or fabricating objects, but in creating dialogue. I connect people and connect the dots.

Beauty-wise, I tried a lot of makeup out when I was young, but I never really got into it. I was too much of a tomboy. It was just so much work and I would think, ‘I don’t have time for this.’ [Laughs] I still can’t do foundation, but I’m into doing my cheeks and lips. I just recently picked up the Korres Lip Butter in Wild Rose and I keep that in my handbag at all times. I used Benetint for a long time, but here’s the thing—if it’s liquid, it has the potential to spill in my handbag. I travel a lot, so I need something that’s going to work with me and multitask. I’m not going to bend for a product. I still have the Prada lip balm I bought four years ago. I’m so upset they don’t make it anymore. For lipstick, I like Chanel Rouge Allure in Passion when my outfit needs a lift.

For my eyes, Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner in Ébène has been particularly successful. I mean, you just want to wear it. I’m liking my current mascara—MAC False Lashes—that I got from a fashion party. But I’m always on the hunt for the right mascara. Smell is really important for me when it comes to mascara, because most of them smell weird; it really upsets me. A bad smell doesn’t make me want to put it on my eyeball. [Laughs] But Dior’s DiorShow actually had a great scent.

Traveling has given me mixed-conbination skin, so I use very gentle skincare products. I just discovered this great makeup remover form Paris—Lift’Argan from Léa Nature. It’s like an argan-oil version of Bioderma Crealine—it doesn’t foam, and it’s great for eye makeup. It’ll do the job. [Laughs] I’ve fallen in love with Santaverde Aloe Vera Cleansing Milk. It’s an aloe-based line that also does a really good toner, like a really good toner. It’s very soft, it has a nice consistency, it smells good, and it really works. I mean, I can’t recommend it more. It’s such a pleasure. When I want a deep clean, I use the clay Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque. Then I moisturize with Jonctum Cica Repairing Cream. I’ve been using it for 10 years—it’s a French pharmacy cream, and it’s a less-slippery version of Embryolisse, but the same principle. And I discovered Simply Divine Botanicals by Rose du Jour Light and Lovely Moisturizer at a health store the other day on 3rd street between 1st and Avenue A. It sits really nicely on your skin.

For my hair, I don’t use the same shampoo over and over again because I think it dulls the hair. I have the Rejuvenating Cleanser from Five Wits that my hairdresser, Joey Silvestera makes, and I just bought this Klorane Shampoo with Magnolia. For conditioner, I use Korres Almond and Linseed Conditioner for dry and damaged hair and Davines Lovely Smoothing Conditioner for Harsh and Frizzy Hair. After I wash my hair, I put in Rodin Olio Lusso and braid it while it’s still wet. I think I bought this bottle of Olio Lusso three weeks ago, and it’s like I’ve been drinking it. [Laughs] I enjoy my ritual. Then, for styling, I like Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray—I went through a phase where I was just slapping it on to add texture. And I just discovered Klorane Dry Shampoo, and I have to say—fuck me. It’s unbelievable. I have the best deodorant, too—RoC Keops Deodorant Stick. It’s almost scentless.

So, after I shower, I always put on moisturizer, whether it’s body oil—Rodin makes a great one—or Skin Trip. It depends on how quickly I have to get out of here. If I have to put on clothes in less than 20 minutes, I put on lotion, but if I have at least 30 minutes, it’s enough time for oil to soak in.

I’ve been wearing Reminiscence Paris perfume since I was 13. It’s the only constant in my life. [Laughs] It’s a weird French brand that smells like the beach, and like watermelon. I mean, my business is called L’ArcoBaleno which means “the rainbow” in Italian. That’s how I feel—joyful. Sometimes, at night, when I want to go on a scent journey, I wear Majenty After Hours. Robert Downey Jr. actually gave it to me. Usually my reaction is ‘God, I wish people didn’t give me perfume. I’m never going to use it.’ But this one smelled like my mother’s friend, and I got attached."

—as told to ITG

Ambra Medda photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on November 19, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • fibee

    I wish I could look at my stash and be like "oh this? Robert Downey Jr. gave it to me. No biggie..."

  • fibee

    Also I have never wanted a product by product dissection of anything as much as I want one of that bathroom cabinet.

  • Talia

    Holy cow that bookshelf!

  • Lolanr1

    I would roll around in a pile of manure every day if Robert Downey Jr. gave it to me...

  • Les

    If Reminiscence was created in 2010...and Ambra has been using it since she was 13...this would make her 17?

    • Adrienne Angelos

      That link says Essence by Reminiscence was created in 2010, but the brand itself has been around for more than 4 years. Plus I don't see that distinctive blue bottle anywhere in her bathroom/living space. I think the website they linked to is just poorly designed because it won't let you look at any of the brand's other scents.

      • Les

        Ahh that makes more sense haha thank you!! Agreed on the site's design, but I'm intrigued by their branding/packaging.

        • Suzanne

          Reminiscence has been making perfume since 1970. It's not clear from the interview which one she wears.

  • TKTK

    i would love to see a "The Professional" on this woman - she's done such cool things! (and maybe, just maybe, we could get a "top shelf" on that bookcase? i mean damn)

  • foundation

    she didn't want to participate in the art world because it was too commercial so instead she works in design marketing???

    • Gopaleen

      I don't get it either. Anybody have any further info on this admittedly amazing person's career strategy? She's had an interesting life.

  • XY

    Pleeeeeeeeease do a feature on NY-based illustrator/stylist Bernadette Pascua (Decade Diary)!

  • malteseproverb

    best shelves featured in a Top Shelf: y/n? [look at that cutie in the bathroom!]

  • Sarah

    I am drooling over the bookshelf. Wanted!

  • Emilia Musena

    please do a feature on any film director.ha!

  • Susan

    I love Prada lip balm. I, too, am sad they are no longer made. I have some that I am hoarding. They are really awesome. *sad face*

  • jess

    I cant tell if she is 18 or 38?

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    I'm going to have check out that perfume!

  • esme

    Does anyone know where that wonderful watermelon shower cap is from? must buy

  • Francisc

    This lady is such an inspiration!

  • Nik

    Yes! My family is from Mitilini and we have the best olive oil, its also what my mother puts on her neck and arms every night. We also sit at the sea and exfoliate our bodies with the sand that we're sitting on, and then jump in the sea to take it off. And Korres products are incredible!

  • pamb

    Love the vintage linen hand towels!


Korres Lip Butter
Benefit Benetint
Chanel – Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Colour Passion
Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner
MAC 'False Lashes Extreme Black' Mascara
Dior Diorshow – Black Out Mascara
Santaverde Aloe Vera Cleansing Milk
Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque 120ml
Aesop Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque
Jonctum Cica
Jonctum Cica Repairing Cream
Simply Divine
Simply Divine Rose du Jour Light and Lovely Moisturizer
Five Wits
Five Wits Rejuvenating Cleanser
Klorane Shampoo, with Magnolia
Korres Almond & Linseed Conditioner
Davines – Love Lovely Smoothing Conditioner
RODIN by RECINE olio lusso
Rodin by Recine Olio Lusso Luxury Hair Oil
Bumble and bumble
Bumble and bumble Thickening Hairspray
Klorane Dry Shampoo with Nettle
RoC Keops Deodorant Stick
Rodin Olio Lusso
RODIN OLIO LUSSO luxury body oil
Skin Trip
Skin Trip Mountain Ocean Coconut Moisturizer
Beauty Cafe
Majenty After Hours Perfume