By Amber Kallor. Photos: Hannah Choi/Allure.
Parisians — with their perfectly rumpled waves and minimal makeup that’s smudged just so — manage to be the envy of the world without putting in much effort (or so it seems to a wide-eyed American). And the epitome of this casual, cool, French girl aesthetic is Charlotte Gainsbourg. The daughter of two icons — British movie star and Hermès muse Jane Birkin and French music legend Serge Gainsbourg — the actress and singer has been surrounded by glitz and glamour since birth. She even hit the club scene early with her iconic parents: “I was in a basket,” she told Vanity Fair of being toted along as an infant on epic evenings out on the town. In stark contrast to today’s celeb spawn, however, Gainsbourg is somewhat elusive (she doesn’t catalog every waking moment on social media) and shockingly “authentic," a quality that instantly attracted maquillage master François Nars and spurred a 15-piece collaboration with his namesake brand (on shelves this week). “We met for the first time on set for the shoot of a personal project of mine, but really, I feel like I have known her for years,” explains Nars. “If you listen to her music, it is vulnerable and powerful and very real.”
What’s most interesting about the chanteuse’s partnership with the cosmetic giant is that Gainsbourg admittedly doesn’t “wear a lot of makeup.” Her first foray into beauty wasn’t a dazzling red lipstick or a fancy fragrance borrowed from her maman’s dressing table (though she says her favorite scent is Guerlain’s “Shalimar, on my mother”), but Roberts Borotalco body powder and “crème de huit heures for lips” (translation: Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream). Today, she swears by skincare from cult-favorite French brand Biologique Recherche, and doesn’t do much more than “add a little life in the cheeks” and camouflage dark circles or the occasional spot. “In the morning it's too early for me to enhance lashes or lips, that can happen later in the day,” says Gainsbourg, adding that the best beauty advice she ever received from her mom was “don’t put too much on.”
Her collection with NARS reflects this pared-back aesthetic via a trio of limited-edition Lip Tints that provide a popsicle-like stain, or a sheer version of the brand’s beloved Multiple that offers a natural flush that might otherwise be obtained “from crying or running.” For those of us that don’t roll out of bed with a flawless complexion, the Hydrating Glow Tint (a new gel-cream foundation Gainsbourg helped develop) fakes a dewy, I-woke-up-like-this face without looking or feeling like you’re wearing anything at all.
With three films and her fifth album dropping this year, there are also plenty of options for after dark and the multitude of red carpet premieres that are undoubtedly on the actress' docket. Two Velvet Matte Lip Pencils — a dusky rose and vampy bordeaux — provide instant punch, while Velvet Duo Eyeshadows (creamier in texture than standard powders so they can be applied with fingertips) and blendable Kohliner in smoky emerald, navy, and slate grey are the ultimate ingredients for recreating those sultry, sooty eyes French girls always seem to get right (see Marion Cotillard, Gainsbourg’s co-star in Ismael’s Ghosts, for proof).
Despite being intensely private and living her life blissfully off Instagram and Twitter, Gainsbourg’s collection, much like her music, is deeply personal. The Multiples are named after her mother (Jeanette, a barely-there berry) and two daughters (Alice, a poppy red; and Jo, a delicate pink), while other products in the range (dubbed things like Old Church Street and Double Decker) recall her days in London. Of course there are plenty of odes to Paris — like the lip tint in Éphélide (which translates to freckle in English), and an eye shadow duo called Rue Allent (a nod to the street where she strolled with her dog). Perhaps the pièce de résistance in the lineup is the leather roll (modeled after her own Céline clutch) and five brushes featuring faux wood and marble handles that look like they were plucked from an artist’s easel along the Seine (talk about très chic).
While you can’t exactly acquire the ever-elusive je ne sais quoi French women like Gainsbourg naturally possess, you can get one step closer to replicating their signature beauty look with shades and textures that are intentionally the opposite of “flashy.” Slick on a kiss of color, add a dab of foolproof rouge to cheeks, or wrap eyes with an purposefully imperfect band of blackish blue liner. Then, listen to Gainsbourg’s breathy, beguiling voice on loop, have a glass of wine before noon, and imagine that you’re sitting in a sidewalk café in the City of Light — because Paris (even if you’re only pretending to hop across the pond) is always a good idea.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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