How to do French Girl Chic
There is one thing that each of my favourite fashion heroes has in common – They’re all French!
Beautiful, yes. Fashion savvy, of course…but most of all they possess a sort of Paris approved prettiness that’s both glamorous and effortless all at the same time.
French women look after themselves (you need only visit a French pharmacy to see the country’s obsession with cellulite creams) but where a daily regime of makeup, hair styling and designer labels can seem contrived on some, the French woman looks as if she woke up simply oozing awesomeness without giving her appearance a second thought.
She mixes classic with contemporary, girly with masculine.
She pairs Sunday morning’s boyfriend jeans with Saturday night’s sequinned tuxedo jacket, equally pulling off a trainer or stiletto no matter what the occasion.
On a beauty note, it’s all about preparation rather than paint. Serious skincare is the basis of a perfect complexion and the body is treated with just as many lotions and potions.
When it comes to makeup, skin always looks natural, glowy and either eyes or lips are played up but never both. Take Brigitte Bardot for example. She’s always been my eyeliner idol. Her eye makeup had a sort of slept in charm and as a result softened the bottled blonde effect, making her less Page Three and more Rock Goddess.
Her eye makeup had a sort of slept in charm and as a result softened the bottled blonde effect, making her less Page Three and more Rock Goddess.
Paris Chic is never messy but rather ‘undone’. Red lips are a cosmetic staple and applied with precision however the rest of the face can be left bare and minimal.
Regular hair trims are essential but a bouncy blow-out isn’t necessary…’blast and go’ is the French way. Nails are short, natural, nude or red. No garish colours or diamanté dominated patterns.
A tan is appropriate all year round and yes, it’s probably real.
Over the years, I’ve been so inspired by the likes of Jane Birkin, Caroline de Maigret, Charlotte Gainsbourg and of course the iconic Isabelle Marant that I’m sure their ‘less-is-more’ approach to style has found its way into my work.
I’m regularly booked to make models fresh and radiant rather than dramatically made up. I’ll happily use a rainbow of colours but I always try to make the end result look ‘expensive’ yet hopefully ‘effortless’.
In the words of Coco Chanel “Simplicity is the keynote of all
true elegance.” She also said that thing about removing one item of jewellery before walking out the door. I can’t remember what it was exactly but I’m pretty sure she was talking about looking fuss-free with a little nod to glamour.
The Paris Chic beauty Rules…
The Brigitte Bardot Eyeliner
Smokey eyes should be messy and feline flicky eyeliner should be smudged a little for the full French effect. This is a godsend if you don’t have the steadiest of hands.
Apply Laura Geller eye calligraphy pen -£27 for three (a black, ink- like formula with a blacker than black finish) across the top of the lash line and immediately smudge over the top with a small brush like Bobbi Brown Smokey Eyeliner Brush £24.50.
It takes down the crispness of the line without effecting its perfection. Team with a natural looking base and a peachy beige lipstick like Dolce and Gabbana’s Nude £24, which suits absolutely everyone.
The Lou Doillon “Do”
Forget beautiful blow-dries. They take too much time and look overdone.
Rough dry the hair instead and separate into three-inch sections. Use a hair tong like GHD Curl Classic Wave £110 and rather than wrapping hair all the way around the barrel, simply wrap once then slowly pull the tong down the hair shaft to the ends.
The effect will be natural, soft waves as opposed to ringlets.
The Vanessa Paradis Pout
Red lips are practically French cosmetic royalty.
Women often tell me they find it difficult to choose a shade that suits them so I’ve road tested literally hundreds over the years to find those that suit everyone, no matter what your age, skin tone or hair colour.
My advice is to opt for cream or matt textures- something with holding powder as well as a bold injection of colour.
Red isn’t meant to be insipid – go for it!
My foolproof reds are:
- Mac Russian Red – a neutral, matt;
- Mac Lady Danger – a powerful orange matt;
- YSL Rouge Pur Couture The Mats in Rouge Rock – a neutral powdery matt £25 ;
- Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope in Brat Pack £35- a true matt red ;
- Chanel Rouge Noir – the deepest of reds;
- Nars Velvet Matt Lip Pencil in Cruella £18- a raspberry red.
The Clemence Poesy Complexion
‘French skin’ is fresh, radiant and entirely makeup free (well at least it appears to be). Primer is essential for a matt, shine free complexion with smaller looking pores.
Keep foundation sheer, opting for a lightweight formula like Rodial Skin Tint.
Camoflauge spots and redness with a richly pigmented concealer like GlamWheel Concealer, which can be mixed to match different shades in the face.
Skip the blush and go straight to highlighting with Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze. Swirl both the bronze and highlighting shades in the compact together with a powder brush and sweep across cheekbones and bridge of the nose.