She found a modeling agency willing to work with her, and slowly began building her own book, crafting custom eyeshadows and lipsticks on set out of cosmetic pigments in primary colors. With her training as a painter, she could make any shade she wanted to use, and it was the cheapest way to work: “I was basically being a chemist on set,” she told office.
Since she entered the profession before social media took off, back when, she says, the fashion industry “owned” the beauty industry, she witnessed the old-school methods of working––and she wasn’t into it. Her approach to beauty has always been informed by her background in art and her rejection of the old ways. She was never very interested in learning the ins and outs of foundation and contouring; she’s drawn to lipsticks and artful lines, the elements of a look that enhance delicately rather than totally transform. And with her insistence on finding the beauty that’s already there and doing things her own way, she’s obviously an office beauty favorite.
Based in: New York City
The real difference between French and American beauty:
At least in New York, there is acceptance of diversity––I’m not talking about skin color; it’s about style and personality. We kind of have this one aesthetic in France, and it’s a beautiful aesthetic. I’m such a cliché with my long hair and bangs and red lipstick––that’s my DNA, that’s how I feel myself the most. But when you’re used to only seeing this style, that’s not good for your spirit, but then you go to New York and you see all these personalities; it’s so inspiring to see people feeling entitled to be themselves.
Biggest changes in the beauty industry in the past few years:
When I started it was a man’s job. And the idea was that you were supposed to stay humble in front of the client, you weren’t supposed to press yourself and look pretty. I had trouble with that because I never assisted, I didn’t know the code. I arrived on set with my red lipstick and heels, and people were a bit annoyed with that. I was like, ‘What the fuck?’ It’s so weird to see things that way. So I stayed myself. My way of working is if it works my way, great, if it doesn’t, fine I’ll do another job.
Your take on social media’s effects on the beauty industry:
I think social media was a very good thing for the beauty industry. Beauty was, I feel, owned by the fashion industry in a way. It was very old-school; after every fashion week you had to look over the trends from the runway, if you wanted to work for a magazine, you had to follow the trends. And then social media came and all these girls who were nobodies started to do makeup, gain an audience and started to have a voice, and that broke the ownership of the fashion industry, which is amazing. Because at the end of the day, we’re creating makeup for real women. The fact that they took back the ownership is really good.
How pregnancy changed your beauty routine:
It’s definitely a challenge, even though I’ve had a very lucky pregnancy. It’s difficult, because for every woman usually hormones take over and you basically have to surrender your body and your beauty to what’s happening. I tried to have control over it––my skin got crazy, I lost all my hair right from the first trimester, and I started to gain a lot of weight. I really felt like who I knew I was, the control was slipping through my fingers. And that gave me a bit of vertigo. But I think it’s great, in a way it’s the first step of being a mom. It’s no longer just about you, you’re creating another person inside of yourself. And in order to do that you have to sacrifice some part of you. I had to learn and accept that, which was my challenge.
One beauty standard you hope your child won’t have to grow up dealing with:
I don’t feel worried because of my French background, I know I’ll raise her that way. We live in New York, we’re very lucky. She’s gonna be half-Asian, half-French, and American, so she’ll be a very international kid, which to me is the future, hopefully. I think with her parents she will learn that her beauty is her beauty and she’s perfect the way she is. Even with our crazy political situation, it’s still a city where differences are celebrated. I believe she’ll grow up in a world where she can wear any makeup she wants and feel free to express herself through beauty.
Something Americans could learn from French beauty:
Something I really like in French culture is that we believe you’re born perfect; don’t use makeup to change who you are, disguise who you are, hide who you are. In France we don’t put foundation on, we don’t contour ever, we don’t use false lashes, we don’t put in colored eye contacts. We try to be ourselves and use makeup like how you dress; how you put a hat or jewelry on. This is the one thing I’m trying to teach here in America. Okay, you have skin issues––but maybe you should stop using foundation, your skin is gonna breathe and get better.
A beauty ritual you inherited:
My grandmother lived in the countryside with basically nobody visiting her during the day. She used to still wake up really early in the morning, put rollers in her hair, do her skincare, and then her makeup, and then she would blow-dry her hair; she was doing this every single day. I remember asking her why, when nobody but me was visiting her. She said, ‘First of all I’m doing this for me, and you never know, Prince Charming can be at the corner of my house when I take out the trash.’ Because she was a single lady. And I thought that was so inspiring. Now when I dress up, I feel the need to prep myself a little for me, because it’s a way of sending love to myself. It’s the older generation; we have something to learn from them.