A couple of weeks ago, when we sat down with Madewell’s new designer Somsack Sikhounmuong, we asked him if there was a particular girl he had in mind when dreaming up new collections for the label. Ultimate French cool girl Caroline de Maigret’s name immediately came up.
“She’s almost like the perfect [Madewell girl]–she’s a woman who’s artistic; she loves fashion but doesn’t live for fashion; she wears it in a sort of personal way.”
So it makes sense that the brand would tap de Maigret for its new fall campaign. Madewell gave us an exclusive sneak peek at the campaign, and accompanying interview with the French stunner. Read on to find out how she honed her personal style, and her surprising secret to nailing that relaxed French beauty look.
What’s your approach to style?
It’s almost unconscious. A lot of it comes from what my mother taught me–to seek out a nice cut and a quality fabric. It’s in our roots not to show off or be too ostentatious, but rather to understand the classic beauty in the understated.
Other than your mom, who’s influenced your style the most?
My boyfriend taught me to have fun with clothes, and to look to find that little twist; that one signature or special item. I don’t follow trends but my style evolves with fashion in the sense that I incorporate new pieces into my wardrobe every season–a mix of closet staples with a few of those statement pieces to give it that unique twist.
You wear a lot of hats. How do you transition from a day spent in the studio to heading out at night?
In France, we dress the same almost 24 hours a day. What you wear during the day can always take you out at night, because it’s already cool enough…I only wear things that can carry me from day to night.
What’s been your biggest splurge?
My little black jacket by Chanel. The cut is so perfect and the quality is so incredible. With just this one special piece your whole outfit becomes chic. I only ever really wear it with jeans and a t-shirt, so it’s perfect for my fashion laziness (laughs)…I expect clothes to have this power.
Any cheapies you love?
All of my menswear t-shirts, which are mostly secondhand and cost anywhere from $1 to $5. When I’m in the U.S., I love to buy packs of ‘em and then cut the collars in order to make them looser. Also, men’s socks!
What clothing can’t you live without?
Jeans–real-deal jeans. I’ve come back to the real quality of jeans, like the ones from Madewell. I loved them so much I wanted to steal them from the shoot!
You’re known for an easy, relaxed beauty. How do you do it?
While French women have a very minimal approach to makeup, hair and beauty, we do actually spend a lot of time [getting ready]. But the result is very natural. I’m very careful about how my makeup looks under a certain lighting…If I go to a restaurant and there is a candle that is too bright, I’ll blow it out!
That’s genius. And when you’re at home, what’s your favorite meal to cook?
It’s a classic French meal, blanquette de veau. It’s quite easy to do overall but it takes a bit of time. I love to take time to make a big meal with friends.
You’ve spent a lot of time with musicians. Who’s the most stylish?
Keith Richards, because there is a sexiness in his rock ‘n’ roll style that I love. It’s so masculine. I find that really super sexy.
Another VIP guy in your life is your seven-year-old son–where do you two like to hang out?
I would say that one of our favorite places to go together is the Galerie de Paléontologie in Paris. I love taking him to check out the bones. It was designed in the early 1900s and has this amazingly beautiful wood and glass ceiling and huge dinosaur fossils. My son’s really into the dinosaurs and I’m into the atmosphere. It’s always so full of light as the sun hits it from every angle.