Charlotte Gainsbourg shares the key to mastering Parisian cool

By Ally Dean

When it comes to beauty secrets, the je ne sais quoi epitomized by French women is considered the Holy Grail. No one embodies this intimidatingly cool factor more than British-French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The daughter of fashion icon Jane Birkin (the British actress and singer for whom the popular Hermès bag was named), Charlotte recently collaborated with Nars cosmetics on a limited-edition 15-piece collection.

“She is very cool and authentic, very French,” says founder François Nars, who sets the bar high: his past inspirations have included Andy Warhol. “Her allure is all in the uncompromising power of her personal style.”

Here, the brunette beauty – who has a fifth album on the way and will appear on the big screen in The Snowman with Michael Fassbender – tells Hello! about mastering French beauty, and the secret behind her effortless style.

How did this collaboration come about?

I was flattered and quite excited because it was such an unusual request for me, but François wanted me to do something personal. I don’t typically wear a lot of makeup, so I decided to create the line around my exact beauty needs – the stuff I need in my bag, what I hope to buy, a bit of this with a bit of that.


Velvet Duo Eyeshadow in Old Church Street
Velvet Duo Eyeshadow in Old Church Street, $43,

What was the creative process like?

First it was a question of what kind of products I wanted to include. I couldn’t go toward something that was opposite of me, so it had to be quite natural so. My favourite colours are army green, dark grey and dark blue and in the end, the colours were sort of obvious for me, nothing flashy, just tinted. Choosing the names [of shades] was fun! Letting myself pour words out – everything from my past, visions, impressions, names, places, emotions.

Lip Tint in Ephèlide and Promise
Lip Tint in Ephèlide and Promise, $33 each

Whether you’re working on a lipstick or a lyric, where do you find inspiration?

My inspiration comes from my instincts, trusting them and wanting to be carried by them. A song for me is like a quiz: implausible and mysterious. It’s an emotional journey. [Creating this collection] felt completely different. There were 10 of us sitting around a table, exchanging ideas and it was really light-hearted and easy. Although it still was emotional. My references had to do with actresses in films, so a natural cheek, redness from crying, running – things that move me.

Multiple Tint in Alice
Multiple Tint in Alice, $49

Beside these products, what’s your daily beauty routine?

I use a French skin-care brand called Biologique Recherche. I come back to it each time I try new things. I should know by now that never works for me. After skin care it’s really just a question of camouflaging dark circles, spots, and giving myself a little life in the cheeks. In the morning it’s too early for me to enhance lashes or lips, that can happen later in the day.

Kohliner in Cours du Soir
Kohliner in Cours du Soir, $31

How would you summarize your beauty philosophy?

The best advice I’ve ever been given has been to not put too much on. I gravitate toward anything that will seem natural, while erasing a few signs of age. My mother, Charlotte Rampling, Brigitte Bardot are all my idols when it comes to beauty but there is no one definition. That’s what’s beautiful!

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