“I design a line of high jewelry for Dior—Dior Joaillerie—and also my own collection, Victoire de Castellane, which includes high jewelry, one-of-a-kind pieces. My last collection was focused on flowers and very precious objects… I love the idea of artisanal work, craftsman work, and I have all kinds of influences. See, I am Parisian-born, but my grandmother was Spanish, and I have Cuban blood from my great uncle. But, what can I say? I feel like a French woman; Paris is really my city, my town. I do love to travel, though, especially to Latin countries, to stay close to my Latin roots. My grandmother was from Andalusia—she was a really strong character and very feminine. She was always matching her clothes to her jewelry always wearing lipstick, her nails painted until she was 90. She had four husbands and she had five children… It was another time—things were much more sophisticated, in a way. To me, it was really a marvelous glamour world—that’s why I was very inspired very early on, by this glamorous world. But I can say that I don’t want to be like her. [Laughs] Her fourth husband was really in love with her, but she lived a lot before that: she was a widow at twenty-one with three children. Then, she managed her life with a different old man with a good title—an old but very passionate man. At some moments in her life, she had love stories with men, but also sometimes she just married because she had to survive and go on…
I think that everybody is in charge of their own destiny. I think that you have the choice; it’s only you that has the choice to say yes, or to say no. I think that I choose to imagine, in my head, a marvelous world. My parents divorced when I was one or two—really early. And I was very quiet and a little sad as a child. I chose in my head to create a fantastic, amazing world—with the jewelry with the glamor I saw—to play in. I loved to play dress-up as a girl. Also, I was really inspired by all of the movies I saw on TV, like Hollywood in the ’50s, and the ‘60s, ‘70s movies. I was always looking at these saturated Technicolor images; this was really inspiring for me. I loved Mary Poppins, Cleopatra with Liz Taylor, also the musical comedies. I love Gigi, An American in Paris. And after that, I was inspired by Jean-Luc Godard, Nouvelle Vague movies. They’re really about finding freedom.
When I was younger—in the ‘80s—I was always wearing black. But I think when you’re getting older, black can be too harsh. That’s why I love to play with white close to the face, or bright crimson, and to play with my faux sombre [‘fake blacks’]: navy, indigo, dark green, dark blue. I love that. It’s very important to know yourself well—to know your style. I always observe all types of women—the young, the middle-aged, the old ones, the old ones that are very coquette, old ladies that are very sophisticated, or ones who look like men—and I’m very inspired by them. For women and men, the worst thing about getting old is getting ringard, which is French and means to lose your taste, and to stick to something that was fashionable at the time. Since we can’t fight aging, the best thing we can do is to just keep our style, but not to try to look how we did when we were younger…to be neat and well-groomed and not wear cheap materials. And not to wear too many things—you have to simplify. When you are young, you can do anything, But when you are getting older, less is more. You can’t play and start to experiment—it’s best to not change your hair, and to keep your silhouette. You can still play with your accessories and build up a style that way, with quality jewelry or something like that.
My hair, I can’t imagine changing because I wouldn’t know what to wear, if I have to change my hair. [Laughs] I think that it’s not a good idea to suddenly cut your hair when you are getting older. If you want to have long hair, it always has to be impeccable, I think. If you want to have your hair short, you should start longer—you don’t have to cut it suddenly. In France, we always say that we cut our hair suddenly at a certain age—you make a ‘boom,’ a big cut, and you’re done; it’s over. Then, you can forget your boyfriend! [Laughs] My grandmother had long hair, but she always dyed it. I remember once seeing her at 90, and she was brushing her hair, which was very long. It’s strange, but she never cut it. It was her way of her keeping her femininity, but without trying too hard to be young. I color my hair with only natural hair color, from plants—herbs. I have a woman that comes to my home, and she does it every six weeks. Other than that, I love to have Kérastase products for my hair; they are very good. I try to mix—each day I use a different shampoo: the green bottle, orange bottle, and pink bottle.
To me, lipstick is like jewelry or an accessory—the lipstick is just a vehicle for playing with color. Like, I don’t have a red bag, so I play with my red lips… I think you can play with strong colors in makeup. What I like is a red mouth that is like a flower, a coquelicot—a poppy… I’m not wearing my lipstick during the day much right now. I do it when I go out, for photos. It gives you a nice glow, an energy. People are happy to see you. In a way, it seems thoughtful, or polite, that you’re making an effort to look nice. [Laughs] But only when you’re pale; I never do a red lip when I’m tan. It’s not nice—to me, at least. But that’s the question—us women, we want two things: for men to like us, to find us attractive, and also for women to think we’re attractive. Women are more demanding of other women than men are. We are more into details; men are much cooler and more relaxed about it. But in the end, you’ll never relax if you’re always concerned with what people think about you, especially other women, the competition. Women can be more cruel—we are much more difficult on ourselves. But I’m still with my husband—he loves me! [Laughs] He loves lipstick, but he also loves me without lipstick. I’m not obsessed with lipstick, I just think it’s nice when you’re wearing darker clothes. But when I have a lot of jewelry on, it can be too much. So it depends on the situation, but I never force myself to put something on when I don’t feel it. Never.
What lipsticks do I have? I have different things, but I love MAC Ruby Woo, because it’s the red. It’s a good red, and not a dramatic red. Some reds can give you a more dramatic look—it can suddenly be theatrical, more rigid, more femme fatale. But Ruby Woo is much more like an artistic red. It’s like my husband’s paints from when he was five, the red of his childhood.
In terms of my routine, I always use a basic cream. During the winter, I have Nutrix by Lancôme—but it’s a nightmare with the hair! [Laughs] It’s really greasy, so when it’s drying I can’t touch my hair. I get out of the bath, then I put on my cream, I wait for it to absorb, and then I use Kleenex to blot. I know that people are crazy about buying the new creams—I don’t care. Maybe I’m much more like a boy in terms of that. [Laughs]
Then I just put on some powder—during the day. Never foundation. Never. I don’t like it because it doesn’t feel fresh; it’s heavy on my skin. Also, I hate the idea of transforming myself with some product and suddenly, the day after, people don’t recognize you. [Laughs] I think that it’s also a way to keep your spirit young—not to cover things. I love compact powder. I buy mine at Monoprix [the grocery store]: Rimmel London Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Peach Glow. I like something that’s matte, always. I don’t feel good when my skin is shiny. When your skin is shiny, the lines in your face seem harsher. And with matte, you can be more bold with color. I think that matte is something very elegant.
Also, I love to have pink blush. I think it highlights the bone structure and gives a hint of light; it makes you look healthy. But only pink powder blush—not orange, not brown or beige. I use T. Leclerc Powder Blush in #13 Boisé. Maybe pink’s a bit funny, but I don’t care. I think that it makes you look happy. Also, I have mascara. I’m between Dior and Saint Laurent. And when I don’t wear lipstick, I put on black kohl—voilà. And I don’t paint my nails all the time, only during winter. When you get tan, it’s complicated with colors. Why? Because you don’t need them. But right now, I have on Chanel Rouge Noir, basic.
What else? I always use Bioderma Créaline every night. I never go to sleep before taking off my makeup. That’s a rule. Very important.”
—as told to ITG
Victoire de Castellane photographed by Emily Weiss in Paris on January 25, 2013.