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Vogue Paris December 2007/January 2008: Charlotte Gainsbourg

It is such a pleasure to share with you this Vogue Paris review by our extraordinary contributing editor Dara Block in which she examines one of my very favorites, the iconic December 2007/January 2008 issue with Charlotte Gainsbourg as the guest editor selected by Carine Roitfeld. Also notable is the "Une Fille Un Style" featuring Lou Doillon, half-sister of Charlotte, j'adore. Thank you so much, Dara, for sharing your unique perspective on this wonderful issue and the inspiring style of Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Vogue Paris December 2007/January 2008: Charlotte Gainsbourg
By Dara Block

What is it about Charlotte Gainsbourg that keeps us all interested? She certainly has that je ne sais quoi, so it is no wonder that Carine Roitfeld chose her as guest editor back in December 2007/January 2008. Charlotte Gainsbourg certainly has a charm and style that cannot be defined. She is an actress, occasional model, and an acclaimed singer-songwriter. Let's also not forget that she is part of French indie artsy aristocracy. Her mother is the English model, actress, singer Jane Birkin and her father was French pop star Serge Gainsbourg... the country's unofficial poet and provocateur from the 60s to the 80s. With parents like Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte was simply born to be cool and quite suited to take on the role as guest editor for Vogue Paris. Let's take a closer look inside the pages....

Let's start with the striking cover photographed by Craig McDean. I so love the composition of this shot, the expression on her face, and of course her Balenciaga dress. Charlotte Gainsbourg is Nicolas Ghesquière's main muse so naturally it is quite appropriate for her to be wearing Balenciaga on the cover. I think what I admire so much about this cover is the pink metallic writing. Love the way it says AU CHARME ET CAETERA which simply translates to "the charm and so on." I also love the handwritten signature, making the issue so personal and unique in that very Carine Roitfeld Vogue Paris sensibility that we all know, love, and deeply miss. Charlotte definitely brings her own individuality and style to this issue... making it a very special one!

As you open the magazine, Carine Roitfeld starts the issue with an editor's note. I love the obscure image she chose of a young Charlotte Gainsbourg posing with her father, Serge. Carine mentions how Charlotte began her singing career at age 14. Charlotte and her father collaborated on a very controversial song entitled "Lemon Incest," which was about an impossible and indecent love. Surprisingly, the song was banned by the BBC and oddly enough it took Charlotte Gainsbourg two decades to get back into music again... but through this issue you see what an influence music has played in her life, especially the music of her father, as well as other musicians like Thom Yorke and Bob Dylan. It's not only music that has inspired her, but film as well, and of course her ever so cool family.

After Carine Roitfeld's editor's note comes "Tout comme Charlotte," in which Charlotte Gainsbourg shares her favorite items. Some of her must haves include simple tshirts from The Gap, French fisherman sweaters from Brora, military inspired blazers, straight leg jeans by Notify, and custom-made cowboy inspired booties from R. Soles. Charlotte Gainsbourg not only shares her favorite clothing options, but also some of her favorite writers like Charles Dickens, Marguerite Duras, George Bataille, as well as a love for Maurice Sendak's children's story Where The Wild Things Are... She is not only stylish with her wardrobe, but with her literature, as well.

Next comes "Une Fille Un Style," starring Charlotte Gainsbourg's half-sister Lou Doillon, who is just as equally stylish. This section features Lou sharing her style secrets, as well as modeling some of her looks for the camera. Doillon's outfits are never perfectly matched and she certainly has a rebellious approach to dressing. She is not so much about the clothes, but about gestures and movement with her style. She really has an attitude and spirit that is all her own.

After Lou Doillon, the magazine continues with "Dans la Peau de Charlotte," in which Charlotte Gainsbourg shares her beauty and health secrets. Some of her favorite beauty products include Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, Clinique's Anti-Blemish Solution, and Kerastase Resistance for her hair. She also discusses some of her favorite makeup products including Dior blush and mascara, MAC lip pencil, as well as concealer by Laura Mercier. Finally, she also reveals her exercise of choice, which is Pilates.

Next, follows Charlotte's portfolio entitled "Noël avec Charlotte." The opening image features a photo of Charlotte Gainsbourg as a baby. What's interesting about this pic is that it is signed by the legendary Muhammed Ali. I can only imagine how honored she must have felt to have this photo signed by him.

The first editorial is called "La Science du rêve," which features Charlotte Gainsbourg looking very sexy and provocative, yet still very mysterious. The layout was photographed by Craig McDean and was styled by Carine Roitfeld. I like the strange quality of these Prada dresses on her, as well as the whole underwear as outwear look. You can definitely see a sexy Carine Roitfeld vibe to these looks especially with those heels and garters.

Next comes "Initiales C.G." in which Charlotte Gainsbourg shares all the things that have inspired her throughout her life. I so love the way she starts her portfolio with an image of her father. It's obvious how her father has influenced her life both personally and professionally.

As you flip the pages, Charlotte Gainsbourg creates a collage of some of her favorite personal moments. You see a lovely image of Charlotte as a baby with her mom as well as Charlotte sharing a cute moment with her pitbull, Zazie. She also shares a book of poetry written by her late cousin Anno Birkin. In addition, she even displays a Polaroid of herself sleeping in bed... I love the darkness of this Polaroid pic... very mysterious, just like Charlotte Gainsbourg herself.

Next, Charlotte Gainsbourg shows us a page from her script for the Todd Haynes film I'm Not There, which is loosely based on the life of legendary musician Bob Dylan. I think it's quite interesting to see the way she highlights and annotates her script. Charlotte Gainsbourg is a huge Bob Dylan fan and she describes what an honor it was to be part of this unique film.

Charlotte Gainsbourg then shares with the reader a photograph that Steven Meisel snapped of her from a Vogue Italia shoot in October 2000. She obviously enjoyed working with him and she described how much she loved transforming her image for Meisel and the magazine.

Then, we see one of my favorite and most personal images from her portfolio, which is Charlotte Gainsbourg in bed smoking. I think what I love most about this photo is the way those words are written across those sheets. If you read closely, they are actually the lyrics to her song "Everything I Cannot See" from her album 5:55. The layout of this image is quite clever and the lyrics complement this photo so well!

Next, Charlotte shares with us some of her favorite songs. I love it when Vogue Paris gets very in-depth and personal. I don't know about you, but I am very curious to know what's on Charlotte Gainsbourg's playlist. The best part is that she wrote her song list on a notepad from the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Some of her favorite songs include Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," Pulp's "Common People," Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Marilyn Monroe's "I'm Through with Love," and Air's "Playground Love" to just name a few. Love how eclectic her taste in music is....

Not only does Charlotte Gainsbourg share her favorite music, but her favorite films as well. Some of her favorites include Some Like it Hot, Annie Hall, A Woman Under the Influence, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as many others. She definitely has a very distinct taste level and I can see how these types of films have influenced her own work as an actress.

The portfolio ends with a semi-nude portrait of Charlotte Gainsbourg photographed by Mario Sorrenti from October 2007. I think this is a stunning image. Yes, it is revealing, but it is done tastefully. A very elegant way to show some skin.

After her personal portfolio comes "Charlotte, Mots pour Mots" which simply translates to "Charlotte, Word for Word." This section is an in-depth interview, as well as a beautiful black and white editorial of Charlotte Gainsbourg photographed by Hedi Slimane. These images are breathtaking and Slimane captures her shyness and natural beauty so perfectly. On a side note, I met Hedi Slimane a couple of months ago and I mentioned to him how much I admired these photos he took of her. Slimane kindly told me that these Gainsbourg images are actually some of his personal favorites as well! I even got him to pose for the camera with me! How lucky am I?? At any rate, I think it's really quite cool how he sees and appreciates the beauty of her simplicity.

Next comes "5 Bis, Rue de Verneuil," which is a look inside Serge Gainsbourg's former house and recording studio. I must say this has to be one of the most interesting residences in Paris. His family has left the inside exactly as it was the day he died in March 1991... so not only are his records, books, and photographs still there, but also his toothbrush, as well as his mints, which still sit beside his bed. Charlotte is now the owner of the house and with the help of architect Jean Nouvel, she plans to turn it into a museum. Photographer Mario Sorrenti beautifully captures the glamour and private world of France's most beloved and important songwriter.

Following a look inside Serge Gainsbourg's house comes "Tandem," in which Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière describes his designer/muse relationship with Charlotte Gainsbourg. Believe it or not, they actually have been friends for many years. For Gainsbourg, no matter if she is at a music venue or on the red carpet in Cannes, she always turns to Ghesquière for something special. I once read an interesting quote in Elle Magazine in which Gainsbourg stated, "I don't know what Nicolas finds in me, but I know what I find in him." Gainsbourg is obviously very inspired by Ghesquière and it is clear that he feels just as strongly about her. They really are quite the dynamic fashion duo.

In closing, I think Carine Roitfeld chose wisely by making Charlotte Gainsbourg the guest editor. I can easily see how Carine admires Gainsbourg's approach to style... especially the way in which Gainsbourg takes inspiration from her ever-so-chic family. After all, I think Carine Roitfeld does the same with her own family. Moreover, I think Gainsbourg clearly has a style that is both strong yet subdued. She has that rare ability to take a simple look and transform it into something new and spontaneous making it a look all her own. There is something very mysterious... with her casual make-up and non-processed hair... I think that is what makes people so fascinated by her. Nowadays, its so hard to find women who have that type of natural beauty, but I love that Gainsbourg's style is all about pleasing herself and not others. Hats off to Carine Roitfeld for celebrating this type of casual glamour and for recognizing that it is not just about the clothes, per se, but more about the brains and attitude behind the look. I know that is the lesson I learned from reading this charming yet classic guest editor issue of Vogue Paris... perhaps we now all understand the meaning behind her 1986 album title... Charlotte For Ever!

Vogue Paris editorial images © 2007 Condé Nast. All Rights Reserved.

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Reader Comments (14)

very cool, esp the photo with hedi!
7 novembre 2011 | Unregistered Commentersisters in black frocks
I love the natural ease and compelling charm that Charlotte Gainsbourg exhibits in these pictures. Well done, Dara!
7 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKate
I love this issue! I love every Carines issue.. i wonder who'll be in this year guest edited issue
7 novembre 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbernie
Very well done, Dara! What a lot of work you put into this - the pictures are phenomenal!
7 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLee
Great Post! I love Charlotte in Jane Eyre 1996 version. She indeed transforms her look throughout these photos. I love this Guest Editor idea something I would love to see in US Vogue.
7 novembre 2011 | Unregistered Commentercca.
What a read! Thank you, thank you! I always wanted to read that, i thought it was too late! Amazing blogs!
8 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJust me
Love the perspective, this was great, Dara! It also speaks volumes about Carine and her confidence in making someone else a guest editor. Yes, it would be great if others would follow this example.
8 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLori
Thanks Dara, love this post and pics!
9 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFrancesca
I can vouch for Dara's admiration for Charlotte. Some of it has even rubbed off on me.
11 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKurt
what i would do to get my hands on that magazine.
16 novembre 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryael
I love the French Vogue cover with Charlotte Gainsbourg!!!
I am the biggest fan of Carine and Charlotte combined.
19 novembre 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Chic Critic
any idea how many pages are devoted to Charlotte, etc.? Is it the whole magazine?
27 novembre 2011 | Unregistered Commenteryael
Yael, essentially the entire issue is devoted to Charlotte or members of her family, this is typically the format for the December issue of Vogue Paris

Kurt, so happy to hear that Dara is being a good influence!

The Chic Critic, then you must love this issue as much as I do! It's so perfect. I cannot describe my excitement the day I received it and saw Zazie dans le metro among her favorite books, I had just gotten a copy and I was thrilled to have this in common with Charlotte.

28 novembre 2011 | Registered Commenterkellina
Amazing. Thank you for this post.
7 décembre 2011 | Unregistered Commenterm

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