“I literally just started modeling... it’s been a possibility for a while I guess, but I wanted to finish high school first. I grew up in London, and actually my plan was always to move to Paris once I finished school, and I came here [to Paris] not knowing what I was going to do—I was going to waitress or do an internship at a gallery... but then I figured I would try modeling. I literally signed with Next like one week ago, went to meet Hedi [Slimane], and just walked in his first show for Saint Laurent. It was my first runway show. I’m eighteen; I’m like 180 cm, so 5’11—proper model height. Some people say that I’m like a little girl. [Laughs] I feel like I’ve had a lot of experience for an 18-year-old. I grew up quite fast. But I think that’s quite good.
My mom [model Kristen McMenamy] was here for fashion week, and I went to visit her in her hotel room one night before Saint Laurent and she gave me a catwalking lesson, which was super fun. For the first time ever, in my entire life. It’s always been kind of a secret fantasy for me. Just in her lovely room at the Park Hyatt, walking back and forth…I put on some of her Prada stilettos. [Laughs] I watched playback of myself from the show and I thought I did alright—but I was so terrified, you have no idea. I took a lot of Rescue Remedy before—the Bach’s. I have to tell you, that’s my go-to product. It really works. Maybe its just a placebo effect. It’s just flowers; it’s really calming. But I have to say, I felt...good. All these amazing supermodels were backstage; it was super overwhelming. But once I got out there, it was so exciting. I thought I’d be really scared but I was just really happy to be there. It just felt so right. I had this amazing sheer leopard-print cape for the show and then, for the finale, this beautiful black sheer pirate dress. It was everything I love. It was so me, it was unbelievable.
I’m originally from Pennsylvania. My mom is American and lives in London, and my dad is from Tunisia and lives in Paris, so I’ve always been kind of going on the Eurostar, back and forth. The Eurostar was actually made the year I was born, so I kind of feel like it’s... mine. [Laughs] I’ve always thought Paris was so much more beautiful than London. London’s more dynamic, but in Paris, you can live in complete solitude and just walk around and do nothing and be completely happy because it’s so beautiful and poetic. I’m glad my dad’s here. He lives in Pigalle, my favorite part of Paris. It’s where the Moulin Rouge is. It’s very old-fashioned and sordid and seedy, but I love that about it…it’s so Paris. It’s funny, actually, I feel very English when I’m in Paris, and very French when I’m in London. I feel kind of... caught in-between the two. I don’t know. Obviously we always like being the foreigner, but there’s some elements of me that feel very Parisian—like, I wear complete black and I smoke cigarettes and drink coffee and am quite reserved, but also there’s something in me that’s very London. I couldn’t exactly call myself a Parisian girl, but I couldn’t call myself a complete London girl either. I think I'm just kind of an amalgamation of elements together.
I’ve been using a lot more French products since I moved here, like, do you know Masque d'Argile? It’s what all the French girls use. It’s this green clay that you put on your face like a mask—you get it at the pharmacies; everyone uses it. You can get all different types. I got a mint one for greasy teenage skin. [Laughs] Those masks are really good—my big sister always used them and she told me what to do as a teen. She’s the French one, she’s a beauty addict, so I tend to get most of my tips from her. Also, for French things, I use lots of Kérastase hair products, and I love Klorane dry shampoo because I’m incredibly lazy.
They also just opened a Lush in Paris, which I’m pretty excited about. It’s all homemade, it’s really exciting, but you can only keep it for like a week in your fridge. Because I have a lot of lip going on, I use their scrub—also because it tastes so good. It’s just sugar and honey and stuff, so you scrub it on and you can lick it off and it’s really delicious. [Laughs] It’s like putting candy in your mouth, but it makes them soft and luscious. I certainly do have a lot of lip. It’s like, amplified. My mom does have copious lips, so I got that from her. I look more like her than my dad, but with darker hair, dark eyebrows…but still, we’re both very pale. I burn! I just go red. And it’s so unfair, I’m like, ‘HELLO! I AM TUNISIAN! THIS IS NOT FAIR!’
I do a lot of scrubs. From my mum, she uses an apricot scrub, something with a K, and we both like Nelsons—they’re a brand that’s pretty organic and healthy, and they have a line called Pure and Clear; I guess it’s kind of aimed at greasy teens. I’ve never been a greasy teen until now. It’s so annoying—I thought, ‘I’m 18 now, it’s done, the awkward teen phase is done.’ But now, with all the stress and everything happening so fast, I’m getting a bit of sebum. [Laughs] And with what all the makeup people put on you...I think my number-one beauty product is the makeup remover Bioderma, the one for oily skin. And Vichy does good ones, too.
For makeup, right now I'm wearing Ruby Woo-hoo-hooohoooo!!! Although I got given a very nice red Chanel—I got a goody bag for doing the Chanel show this week, and that one’s called Pirate—it’s pretty good as well. But I like the blueish tint in Ruby Woo. It looks good on everybody. Russian Red is another good one. But everyone says Ruby Woo. I’ve been through lots of different phases with makeup. When I was younger, like 14, 15, 16, it was, every single day, a big Sophia Loren cat eye…it was kind of goth, but Sophia Loren. I was using the Penultimate liner from MAC, it’s like a pen. It’s really easy to apply, but it’s not really thick enough so you kind of have to go over it with an inkier one, like a Rimmel. And then, recently I was really into contouring, so I used brown to deepen my eyes—I did lots of brown on my eyes and cheekbones with a really white face, and I liked that, but now that I’m a model, it’s just very simple: powder my nose, lip balm, and that’s very much it. [Laughs] But I used to use a very light skin-colored darkish brown powder, an eyeshadow, and I would literally...I’m very messy, I’m not intricate at all…I would take this big fat MAC brush and just kind of sweep it over my eyes and under my cheeks—one, two—just to look like a skull, really. It’s amazing how you can change your face with makeup.
I’m really into dressing up with makeup, not to, like, hide things but to accentuate things. It’s a kind of like painting to me; I think it’s my artistic output every day, you know? It just makes it more exciting when you’re going out, or being yourself...to put makeup on. And I’m constantly inspired by things I see, and films especially. I watch a film and the next day I’m doing that exact makeup. Factory Girl, tomorrow I’m Edie Sedgwick. I just watched Persona, with Ingmar Bergman, and she [star Liv Ullmann] wears headbands constantly, and so I’m going through a headband phase. I love them! I get them from Monoprix. [Laughs] Monoprix is the best thing in Paris. If you’re comparing London and Paris, Tesco and Monoprix, Monoprix wins 100%. They’ve got tights, headbands, they’ve got it all. And they’ve got amazing food. Yeah. Goat's cheese and honey, brown bread sandwiches. So good. So much more refined in Paris! They’ve got everything. As a model now, you need emergency tights or emergency knickers—you see them everywhere at Monoprix. It’s so good."
—as told to ITG
Lily McMenamy, wearing a vintage dress and her father's hat, photographed by Emily Weiss in Paris on October 3rd, 2012.