Some people, simply by virtue of who their parents are, are born cool. Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, obviously qualifies. Born in London and raised in Paris, she’s the product of one of pop culture’s most influential couples. The duo left their fingerprints on all manner of artistic ventures, whether it was fashion, film, music, poetry or even sex.
Despite growing up under such imposing figures, Gainsbourg, 45, has managed to carve out her own intriguing and enduring career as an actress, singer and muse to designer Nicolas Ghesquière. It is her experiences with these varied projects that helped guide her makeup collaboration with Nars. “I was very flattered and enthusiastic straight away,” she says during a video interview from New York City, where she now lives.
Gainsbourg appreciated the creative freedom she was given by founder François Nars. “He was so generous and open-minded,” she says. “I had so many little things I liked and wanted to try.” That included choosing shades that had an ease to them—many of them “tints.” “I like very natural colours,” adds Gainsbourg, “something that would be OK even if you made a mistake. You can go with little touches and not be certain of what you’re doing.” In the collection, there is Hydrating Glow Tint, a gel-cream that provides sheer coverage; a trio of Lip Tints; and three translucent versions of The Multiple, Nars’s well-known chunky multi-purpose stick. Her creations align with her own attitude toward makeup: She doesn’t wear much, but what she does apply is done with stealth. “I wear things you can’t see,” she says. “I have lots of things to hide. It has to do with whether I slept enough or not.”
Gainsbourg veered from the brand’s traditional black packaging and chose olive green instead, inspired by her attraction to uniforms, particularly military ones. She grew up wearing a uniform to school, and her father wore a similar outfit every day. “He had maybe two pairs of jeans, two shirts and [one pair of] shoes,” she recalls. She has adopted the habit of uniform dressing herself, and it seems to be as much about ease as it is about the comfort of not having to make decisions. “There’s something very reassuring about it,” she says.
But the collection’s most personal element are the shade names. Gainsbourg mined her “emotions, memories and feelings” to come up with monikers that reference landmarks in London and Paris as well as her parents and her children. There are eyeshadows called “Rue Allent,” the street where she and her father walked their dog, and “Old Church Street,” where her grandparents lived in London; a matte lip pencil called “London Clinic” is named after the place where she was born; and the three multi-purpose lip and cheek sticks are called “Alice” and “Jo,” her daughters, and “Jeanette,” her father’s pet name for her mom. For Gainsbourg, revisiting her past to dream up these details seemed to be the most rewarding aspect. “It relates to very specific things in my life,” she says. “The whole thing was quite nostalgic.”
Shop the Charlotte Gainsbourg for Nars makeup collection below.
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