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2024-03-26 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine Jeanne Damas on Bringing French Style to the Screen, and the Streets of New York

Jeanne Damas on Bringing French Style to the Screen, and the Streets of New York

Photo by Luc Braquet, courtesy of Jeanne Damas

The French style icon and Rouje fashion designer has been dubbed “the Paris girl personified.” Damas has been busy lately: she is mom to a toddler; recently debuted her first store in the U.S.; and stars in the upcoming Disney+ series Becoming Karl Lagerfeld. Avenue chats with the woman GQ called “the coolest, most beautiful French girl in France right now.”

Congratulations on becoming a mother! Would you do a Rouje line pour les enfants?
I love to dress my kid, but I’ve never thought about designing a children’s line. Although my first fashion memory is my mother, who did all the clothes for my sister and me when we were little. I remember embroideries on corduroy, lace collars, the color. Unfortunately, we didn’t keep any of these outfits.

Having a son must have changed your fashion-forward influencer lifestyle.
Being a working mother changes your life. Obviously, it had also some evolution when it comes to my style, which shows in the Rouje collections. I started to wear sneakers during my pregnancy and added them to Rouje. Same with bags. I used to wear only small bags. Now we design bigger bags as well, like the “Mum,” which we launched last fall.

The new Rouje boutique in New York is super chic!
I wanted to open a store in New York for a long time, but then Covid happened, and we needed to postpone. I was looking for a space in SoHo and we were lucky to find this gorgeous space on Broome Street. I’ve asked my friend Nina Koltchitskaia to work on two murals and together with my architect, Maxime Bousquet, we developed the interior design: a very cozy, elegant space with a lot of air and light.

You now have eight stores around the globe.
I’ve always seen Rouje more as a lifestyle brand, so opening stores and making Rouje a physical experience is very important— being able to touch the fabrics, trying on the clothes directly. I don’t want to open too many stores, but a couple of flagships in cities like Los Angeles or Berlin is something I’m looking into.

Tell me about playing Paloma Picasso in Becoming Karl Lagerfeld.
We finished filming last summer. I was honored to portray such an iconic personality. I’ve learned so much about the Parisian fashion world in the ’70s. It was a very enriching to work with costume designer Pascaline Chavanne, who found the most incredible vintage costumes, and Daniel Brühl, who is astonishing as Karl Lagerfeld. I haven’t met Mrs. Picasso yet—I would be very nervous and intimidated to meet her. I don’t own any of her jewelry, but my mother gave me her Picasso bag from the ’90s as a lucky charm.

How do you manage your huge Instagram following?
I never share private things on social media, it’s not my thing. I also cut off my phone when I’m home to be able to switch off. Everything is a question of balance. Social media is part of the work, but it’s important to keep in mind the difference between work and real life.

You are credited with bringing “French-girl style” to America.
To me, New Yorkers have a very inspiring style. Everybody asks me about “French-girl style,” but personally I’m more inspired when traveling, be it NYC, London, or Tokyo. I think it’s the freshness of things we don’t see in our everyday life which attract our eyes.

The current Costume Institute exhibit at the Met is all about female designers. Do you have any favorites?
Right now is a very interesting moment in fashion, as more and more women designers are shaping the landscape, be it Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior or Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Paloma Wool. There are many designers I admire, like Diane Von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, and Agnès b. They used their voices to be engaged in other topics than fashion.

You get compared to Jane Birkin a lot.
It’s of course very flattering to be compared to women like Mrs. Birkin, but to me all these women are more than just a look or a way to dress. It’s their lifestyle and what they stand for that is inspiring. Style-wise I always liked American actresses from the early 2000s, like Kirsten Dunst or Chloë Sevigny. Sofia Coppola is also iconic. I get inspired by many women close to me, my mother, my friends.

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