L’Occitane's new ambassador Mimi Thorisson reveals the secret to her joie de vivre

By Ally Dean

At first glance, Mimi Thorisson’s life resembles a Rembrandt painting: ordered chaos ensconced in a seemingly effortless epicurean charm. Nestled in Médoc – a rural French region that Mimi refers to as “the last wild frontier in Europe” – she lives with her photographer husband Oddur, eight children and 14 dogs. Mimi spends her days working on her blog, Manger, testing new recipes (her second cookbook, French Country Cooking, came out last year) and hosting meals at her pop-up restaurant, conveniently located in her own kitchen!

After a few moments chatting to the elegant gourmand – who had to excuse herself midway through our conversation to soothe her six-month-old son, Lucian – Mimi feels like one of your closest friends. Her elegant charisma explains why iconic French beauty brand L’Occitane tapped the tastemaker to be their latest ambassador.

“Everything starts with confidence. And I really believe it is important to project a nice image of yourself,” Mimi muses when asked about her beauty mantra. “I appreciate natural beauty – whatever your age, your beauty is there and it should be treasured.” Here, Mimi shares her at-home beauty rituals and recipes, and the secret to her joie de vivre.

You have so much going on and yet seem so calm, collected and have a perfect blowout! What is the secret to looking so put together?
It’s an illusion! [Laughs] Well, first of all, you have to keep your mind and body uplifted and really take care of yourself. Then you have to eat well, so number two is nutrition. Every- one always likes to talk to me about my diet, especially because I cook classic French food – which uses a lot of cream and butter – but I have to say, I really don’t believe in dieting or counting calories. So many people eat something and are consumed with guilt. I believe in having a positive relationship with food, paying attention to portions and trying to eat quality food with lots of organic produce, but also living your life guilt-free. You should have pleasure and enjoy yourself.

Some of Mimi's favourite products: (L-R) L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Youth Oil, $110; L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Eye Balm, $84; Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in Natural Finish, $31; Embryoliss Mydra-Mat Emulsion, $40

But with eight kids, six of whom are living at home, how do you find the energy?
That brings me to my third beauty tip and that’s sleep! [Laughs] I have a nightly ritual where I massage my face with the L’Occitane divine oil for about 10 minutes. The massage does wonders to your face and it is a rejuvenating and relaxing way to end the day.

Is that the key to staying stress-free?
I really don’t stress about anything. No matter what is going on, I manage to be super Zen, stay calm and move forward. And, of course, I recommend staying in bed each morning as long as possible -- especially on weekends! When you have to deal with children it can be a challenge, but life’s really about taking care of yourself, pampering yourself and whenever possible using quality, natural products.

So, waking up in your chateau in Médoc, what does your morning routine look like?
I start my daily routine with a really cold, ice-cube face bath. It does the trick, and really wakes you up. I love French pharmacies and brands like Avène, La Roche-Posay, Nuxe and, of course, L’Occitane. These [brands] are all products I used as a young girl, I use today and use on my children. I always wear a sunscreen and cream or lotion because hydration is so important. My grandmother always told me to wear blush for a bit of warmth and I always use the same Chanel rose shade. Then I add mascara, a bit of concealer and a lip gloss or balm.

What about for an evening out with Oddur?
It’s not very different, but I may add a smoky eye. I really love taupe shades for a natural look. If I’m feeling more dramatic, I like navy or grey eye shadow and, of course, some more mascara. But overall I would say I like classic beauty looks; I’m not very experimental, and many of the products I use are the same items I’ve been using for years.

Your style also seems rooted in classic looks.
Absolutely! I am very feminine and I’ve always been like that. Even as a little girl in school I just loved to wear dresses. I don’t follow trends. I just like to preserve my style, which is classic with a feminine identity. I am most happy and comfortable in a little black dress with ballerina flats or black Hunter wellington boots for wet days. That is my daily uniform.

Do you have any women you admire?
I like channelling my favourite French movies, and I wrap them up in one style. I love the film And God Created Woman with Brigitte Bardot, but really, I love the mid-’50s to early ’60s era. Ladies were always in black dresses and little peacoats or trench coats with scarves.

A lot of your inspiration seems to come from the past.
I’m always trying to source vintage stores. I gravitate toward clothes that represent my mom’s style. It’s evident that I like to preserve, and older women – like my mother, my aunt and grandmother – are really my inspiration. I don’t have a big wardrobe or lots of beauty products but what I have is well-made and I cherish them. That’s my approach to everything, I suppose.

To go for quality over quantity?
Yes, exactly. Life can be very fast-moving and there can be a lot of challenges and trying times, but I believe simple pleasures – a beautiful plate that you found at a vintage market, taking a long bath, lounging in bed or sitting down for a good meal – these things can really transform your life.

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