Victoire de Castellane, Jewelry Designer


“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.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Nouvelle Vague

    I don't think I've ever read a more principled top shelf. More from sages like this, please! xo

  • Marsi

    Is that NARS Dragon Girl I spy with my little eye?

  • Restless Blonde

    Very simple routine. But I guess she doesn't need anything else. If she did, she would've been using it... I like Bioderma Crealine too.

  • Jenny

    Women want two things - for men and other women to approve of us! Ugh, comments like this set feminism back by ages! I don't know whether it is a cultural thing or not, but I personally feel that an Anglo-Saxon woman would feel so comfortable saying that!

    • Heather Smith

      er, I'd say she's reflecting on the phenomenon, not ADVOCATING that we interact that way. Because -- unfortunately -- it's true all too often. women waste lots of time trying desperately to impress one-another (and men), and then waste equal amounts of time being judgmental OF one another's efforts to impress everyone. Which is the bummer-of-a-truth about too many of lady-kind. She's just calling it like it is. The phenomenon is what's setting women back, not the fact that she observed the phenomenon.
      And she's right: women can be women's harshest critics.

    • Jenny

      Ugh typo. That should read - I personally feel that NO Anglo-Saxon woman would feel very comfortable saying that. I'm loath to perpetuating stereotypes, and generally take every French 'guide' written by French women or books purporting to give us 'prudish and drab' British women - I know, I know, another horrid stereotype - insight into the mind of the seductive, flirty, polished and cultured French woman with a grain of salt, but reading these interviews do sort of end up corroborating those stereotypes. Sad!

    • Couteau

      Vive la France!

      Because of Anglo-Saxon political correctness I've been accused of making ignorant and racist remarks by coworkers. The ignorance bit might have some truth, but you can imagine how upsetting that can be, specially in the work place.

      Instead of being so ready to point your fingers, assume the best of people, and let them be comfortable!

      And by the way, let men be men. The American office has been completely sterilized. Now that's sad!

      • Anon

        I agree in 'letting people be comfortable'...but it works both ways. If you're making remarks about race that make others feel UNcomfortable (even if you don't intend to), then you SHOULD be called out on it! That's not 'Anglo-Saxon political correctness', it's just good manners!

  • Sara

    Such a good top shelf!!! This woman is so beautiful inside (and outside), and so intelligent. Yes, less is more! She is so inspiring! I really enjoyed reading this post. But, but! I do not get Godard's movies. I reallly do not get them. His companion Trousseau is so much more inspirational than Godard..

  • Couteau

    Perfect example of someone above fashion.

  • NeenaJ

    Love her hair color in these pics. Would love to know more about the natural method she uses.

  • Ashleigh

    I thought the same thing. My great uncle is Italian but that doesn't make me Italian

  • Cay

    "Us women, we want two things: for men to like us, to find us attractive, and also for women to think we’re attractive."

    No. Just, no. I wear makeup because I think that it is fun and a way of expressing myself--and that's how most women I know see it. You can either like my red lipstick or not. It's exhausting to constantly put stock in what other people think of you. If I were getting made up every day to impress men, I would have changed the way I do it long ago, since it clearly hasn't been working recently ;).

  • Guest

    Oh, my! Well, other than the part about the Bioderma and keeping your figure, I can't relate to anything that she says here. However, I envy the hell out of that marble bathroom counter and if I ever win the lottery, I'm buying myself a piece of her jewelry.

  • Esme

    Any statement that begins "Us women, we want two things..." is probably not going to end well.

  • murt

    I have a feeling this top shelf will be a bit controversial, though I enjoyed reading it!

  • marquisette

    Yes, please do tell more about her herbal hair dye mix! I love henna but it is too red and would love to know how she is able to get this lovely color.

  • Lyndsay

    Her lip! Lovely!

  • Alex

    Why does ITG wait so long before posting these top shelfs? They're still great but this one, for example, is very winter-centric. Might read differently in the spring... Others (see: Harry Brant) had probably moved onto their Next Big Thing by the time their top shelf was posted.

  • Amy Zeng

    She's so elegant, it's very beautiful.

  • Beauty

    Wonderful, as always. Would you PLEASE consider interviewing Olivia/Alex Chantecaille to The Top Shelf? So much to learn from these beauties...

  • Antoinette

    I love that she uses natural products to dye her hair. Isn't that fantastic?

  • jackie

    Holy cheekbones, Batman!

  • Guest

    I'm coming back to this post because I want to encourage people to take a look at Ms. de Castellane's work. She really is an artist. Some of her jewelry is pictured here:

    I also love the portraits by Halard (beautifully lit!) and Demarchelier.

    When you see what she has created, her Top Shelf seems of little importance. (No offense intended, ITG.) I would love to know more about her artistic process.

  • Ooops

    I am desperately looking for good natural hair colour. Too bad that Victoire de Castellane doesn't precise what she is using... can anybody help out??

  • gerlinde

    love this advice! i would also like to hear more about the hair color she is using.


Lancome Nutrix Soothing Treatment Cream
Rimmel London
Rimmel London Stay Matte Pressed Powder
T. LeClerc
T. Leclerc Powder Blush in Boisé
YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara
Dior Diorshow Mascara
Bioderma Créaline