When the French coined the term je ne sais quoi, they surely had someone like Vanessa Paradis in mind. Between her charming gap-toothed smile, masterful ability to mix 2.55 bags with everything and just, well, her complete and utter French-ness, the model/muse/actress/singer has got the mysterious Parisian look on lockdown—but can mere mortals like us pull it off, too? We sat down with the beguiling star herself to find out, and to hear her thoughts on American versus French dressing, her favorite pharmacie buys and Chanel shopping. Read on for her style secrets, and shop her wardrobe and beauty must-haves in the slideshow above!
Lucky: These days you split your time between Los Angeles and Paris. How does each city affect your personal style?
Vanessa Paradis: It doesn’t change my style. I know how I dress actually, and I don’t make changes. But I do dress differently for the weather. It all depends on the heat. In LA it’s always hot and sunny. It’s the same as when you go on vacation, and you do light dresses and flip-flops. You’re always so close to the sea [in Los Angeles]! In Paris it’s colder, you always need a coat, a big purse. You walk a lot more.
So you do see a big difference in the way Parisian and LA women dress?
More their lifestyle: Parisian women and LA women don’t have the same habits the way of living—women in Paris take an hour and half for lunch. We sit and eat there. LA is such a fast, big, big city. You don’t see a lot of people on the sidewalk. In NYC, it would be more similar [to Paris that way]. The way you live, work, you drive around, that changes the way the way people are dressing. That’s why NY and Paris are very similar. In the United States, though, people are always saying that the French woman is so sexy and chic, but I remember growing up and fantasizing about the eccentric way New York women were dressing—all the different shapes and colors [they'd wear]!
What do you always bring with you while traveling?
A pair of black high heels, and a black jacket for sure—I can wear it with all my dresses and jeans. One pretty black dress, one pretty colored top, a cashmere sweater and a big silky wrap.
After working with Chanel for over two decades, you must have a huge collection of their bags! How many do you have?
I don’t know. I am spoiled—really spoiled. A lot! I’ve been working with them for 20 years. And you have to admit those are the best bags in the world—the best, and the prettiest! So a lot—a lot of them!
Any favorites that stand out?
There’s one that I really love, this clutch. But it’s only to go out with. It’s black, and really beautiful; small, but you can put a lot of things in it. Also, a little one with a chain. What’s great about a Chanel bag [is that it really makes your outfit.] You can dress super-casual, or all in black, put on a red or yellow Chanel and you’re dressed. You don’t even need jewelry!
If someone only has the money to invest in one major Chanel piece, which one should it be?
I’m hesitating between a black jacket or bag… Black jacket. You can wear it with everything—anything you have! And you’re not cold!
When you’re in Paris, what products do you stock up on at the French pharmacie? There is this place that my friends go to in Saint Germain [ed note: she's referring to the same store that our EIC Eva Chen and Into The Gloss founder Emily Weiss go to every Paris Fashion Week], it’s bigger and cheaper, but a nightmare. Like a sale at H&M! I would recommend it because it’s cheaper, but it’s a nightmare. [The French pharmacie in general, though,] has got it all. I like to change [my routine] a lot, but I always look for a creme that can do it all—face and body. Cleaning your face is so important! Rogé Cavaillès makes a really good cream for the skin.
You’ve got the whole undone hair thing down to an art—how do you pull it off without looking messy?
I don’t style it—somebody does it for me. It depend what I’m doing, how I’m dressed. I like bed head! Not too much product. The wind can go thorough it, so it moves, has life.
You can catch Vanessa Paradis in her latest movie Fading Gigolo, in theaters now.