Samira Nasr, Fashion Director, Elle


"I moved from Montreal to New York City in the early '90s to get my master's degree in journalism at NYU. I eventually started assisting stylists, one thing led to another, and I worked freelance for a long time, and then I went to InStyle as the style director. But about six months ago, I became the fashion director of Elle, which means I style shoots for the magazine and manage the fashion department. I think Elle, specifically, has a really strong history and DNA; it has always been about personal style—even the editorials that we do have an eye on that. That is our legacy. What I’d like to do is own that more than any other magazine.

I recently adopted a son, Lex—he’s 11 weeks old. Adoption now is very different from what you see in the movies. I was there for his birth. It was a beautiful, involved, and loving process. And my job, my family, and my friends have been so supportive. Everyone is involved. I think back to Hillary Clinton taking so much heat for saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' I think it does take a village. And yes, I’m a single mom, but I also have this incredible support system, you know? I have a nanny, too, so I can go to work. She’s with him during the day. But I try to get home with enough time to bathe him and hang out together, before he falls asleep. I’m incredibly sleep-deprived, so I’m lucky that my beauty routine has always been very simple. Getting ready in the morning doesn’t involve too much maintenance.

I love clean skin and a strong brow. I basically like to look like I just rolled out of bed—that’s my favorite look. I always wear mascara. I’m mascara-obsessed, and constantly looking for the perfect one that will give me a thick, clumpy lash that’s not too clumpy. I even layer mascaras—right now I love Chanel Le Volume de Chanel followed by Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes, because the Maybelline wand will clean up the Chanel clumps without taking the mascara off. I figured that out myself. [Laughs] But I've really tried every mascara from drugstore to Dior.

I never cover up my under-eyes. I was born with shadows under my eyes—you can even see them in my baby photos—and people are always telling me my mascara is running, but I’m just like, ‘No, those are just my under eyes.’ [Laughs] I really don’t care about them, and I think makeup there just looks like you have cake on your face. I do use Clé de Peau concealer on blemishes, though. Fulvia Farolfi, the makeup artist, suggested I get some, in the nicest way possible. She also suggested I use Clé de Peau Refining Pressed Powder, which I apply with a Chanel brush and use on days when I am too shiny. But normally I like a little bit of shine on my face.

The only other thing I’ve used my entire life, since I started wearing makeup, is bronzer. Soleil Tan de Chanel in 63 gives me a healthy glow. I don’t like anything with sparkle, and this doesn’t have too much; it’s nice.

I've always loved a healthy brow with a little definition. I brush mine daily, and I’ve been going to the same lady, Manana at Frédéric Fekkai at Henri Bendel, for 12 years, who waxes and tweezes mine to give them a good arch. Mine used to be uneven, but, when brows are good, they just frame people’s faces so nicely. That’s my daily look.

When I go out, I’ll put on a little eyeliner—MAC Eye Kohl in Phone Number, which is grey, not blackand smudge it. Occasionally, I’ll do a red lip. I love these Velvet Matte Lip Pencils from Nars so much. My favorite one is Cruella, but Never Say Never is great for being more subtle, and let’s just talk about MAC’s RiRi Woo. It’s perfect. It’s the best red for my complexion. Ruby Woo is good, but RiRi Woo is gooood. But, really, I barely ever wear lipstick now that I’m a mom, because I’m always kissing my son, and I don’t want to get the color all over his face. So, I use Homeoplasmine on most days, or a little bit of Aquaphor.

I think everyone’s best accessory is their skin. I use Bioderma Crealine to take my makeup off, and I wash my face with Nature by Valmont Cleansing with a Gel. Then, depending on how my skin is feeling, I either do P50W by Biologique Recherche, which is so goodso goodor Prime B-Cellular by Valmont. Then, I use the Valmont Moisturizing Face Cream. My facialist, Angela at Total Skin, uses Valmont products, so now I do, too. I’m open to trying new things, but Valmont is working, and it doesn’t make me break out, which happens with a lot of products because my skin is very sensitive.

Being a new mom has been tough on my skin. I’m breaking out right now because Lex is always drooling or spitting up on me. I’m not complaining, though. I really don’t mind. And not sleeping has taken a toll on my skin, but, again, it gets better. You think you’ll never get through the not-sleeping part, but you do. Before him, I was all about eight-hours a night, because sleep is really one of the best anti-aging tools.

For my body, my greatest pet peeve is anything ashy. Since I was a little girl, I have always been taught that, when you get out of the bath, you put cream all over your body. I love the original Nivea, but I also switch it up. Le Thermes Marins Velvet Moisturizer is the most wonderful body cream. It smells a little bit like an Italian old lady, but I kind of love it. I also love Rodin Crema Luxury Hand & Body Cream. I find it too heavy for the body, but before I go to bed, I put it on my hands and elbows. I had to wean myself off of the Rodin Body Oil, because I go through it too quickly.

Hair-wise, moisture is very important to me, too. I have textured, thick, dry hair, so even if it’s wildly out of control, I want it to be soft to the touch. I wash my hair every fifth day with Kérastase’s Bain Satin Shampoo in #3, or #2 when they’re sold out. As far as I'm concerned, if you’re looking for moisture, Terax Italia Handcrafted Haircare Crema Original Moisturizing Daily Conditioner is the only conditioner you need in your entire life. I buy it in bulk. And I use Aestelance Hydrate leave-in conditioner after I’ve showered and let my hair dry with that in, and then I’m done.

With hair like mine, you have to choose a lane in the morning: do I want to go up or down? If I put my hair up, I need a light gel to keep the frizz down that’s not too thick or glue-yPhyto was the best but they discontinued it. I put a little gel on my hands, then run them through my hair and put it up. And I wear a scrunchie, even in public. I sleep in them, too, in a low ponytail. American Apparel makes great scrunchies.

I have never chemically straightened my hairI’ve never done anything to it besides color it. Andre at Garren colors my hair, and I think he’s the best colorist. Edris at Edris Salon cuts my hair, and it’s the best haircut I’ve ever had. She understands curly hair and knows how to layer the curls to blend, so I don’t have 'triangle head.' Once I had my hair straightened with a hair dryer after a cut. I felt like Rapunzel, with hair down to there. I had never straightened my hair before, and it was the first time I had ever been able to run my fingers through my hair. I couldn’t stop. It felt amazing. But I feel like, between waxing, eyebrows, hair, washing, and nailsbecause I get a manicure and pedicure every second weekthere’s so much work. It’s too much maintenance.

On my nails, between manicures, I put Rodin Hair Oil on them. I have always worn red or nude polish: Tom Ford Scarlett Chinois, Bitter Bitch, and Mink Brulée are classics.

For scent, I have been wearing Serge Lutens Feminite Du Bois for over 20 years. He created that scent for Shiseido in the ‘80s. But then, Shiseido, as companies do, discontinued it. I was crushed. But now it’s under Lutens’s own label. It smells like layers of different wood. I prefer musky, incense, and wood smells over florals. I like to try new scents, but I always come back to Feminite Du Bois or a scent created for me by Haley at L'oeil du Vert, because I don’t recognize myself in anything else. And since I don’t want my perfume to compete with a heavily fragranced deodorant, I like Biotherm Deo Pure. It smells clean and it works. Who knew the French made the best deodorant?

Basically, when I find a good thing, I stick to it. My friends laugh because I have worn the same style of clothing my entire life. I have always loved denim. I love tuxedo, lace, and t-shirts. That’s what I wear. I think my personal style stays consistent, with a nod to what’s going on in fashion. The bread of the sandwich will change, you know? What’s on the top and bottom, but the stuffing is the same. I have always loved pretty lingerie, and to look pretty basic. I’m not looking to stand out—I’d rather be a fly on the wall. I love a good heel, the way it looks and what it does for posture. And with the basic clothes I wear, I can put on a heel and all of a sudden it’s like, 'Ta-da, I’m dressed!'"

—as told to ITG

Samira Nasr photographed by Emily Weiss in Brooklyn, New York on August 16, 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Kathleen

    "...created that sent for Shiseido..."

    Oh boy.

    • Suzanne

      Feminite Du Bois was created by Christopher Sheldrake in 1992. Serge Lutens designed the bottle.

    • Kathleen

      The misspelling has since been corrected. Form is so important to quality.

    • Tara

      Breaking: people who publish online are human and they make mistakes sometimes. Get over it, Kathleen.

  • Heather P.

    Loved this article! She's a glowing new mom, and while she may not get as much sleep as she wants/needs, she looks amazing!

  • beeswaxnoneofyour

    I love her little black ring pillow. And what is that half-full rectangular bottle of green perfume next to the Feminite du Bois?

  • Caterina

    She is beautiful - both in and out. What a truly inspiring story. She's a Mom and single on her own terms. Wow. And I love her comments about her fashion choices - wear what you love and don't worry about wearing it over and over again - I know what works and what doesn't. Her laundry list of cosmetics is what I strive for - High-End glamour mixed with practical things to make the skin and body beautiful. When you count the number of things you have to do look and feel good though every 4 to 6 weeks - it is daunting to the say the least. So I cut back on pedi's and mani's. It's just too much every month.

  • thunderlegz

    Love her and her simple routine! Does anyone know where to get her makeup bags? Chiara from The Blonde Salad had the same shaped bags as well, I think.

  • Joy of Stranger Sensibilities

    She sounds super cool and I can't wait to all the changes that she will bring to Elle. This will be interesting.

  • Katrina Schenfield

    So blissfully simple! Beautiful woman and beautiful son.

  • CarolinaG

    I loved it!

    I'm posting looks from Los Angeles and accessories:

  • Verdun

    What a cutie. ;)

  • lustrass

    She's such a great stylist and so down to earth! I've always wondered what ethnicity she was? Nothing on the web besides that she's from Montreal, I would say Egyptian but not sure

  • dorothy_mcgivney

    Really inspiring! I love that she doesn't cover up her under-eyes. I have a friend who also has naturally dark shadows there and I think it's beautiful. As for raising a child, I completely agree: It takes a village. I love that quote from Hillary and think of it often now that I'm a parent.

  • Chantel

    Wow, great article.

  • kathS

    she is awesome, and good to know RiRi Woo is back in stock!

  • katie

    Speaking of cute underwear, I wish you guys would do a top shelf for Daphne Javitch (the designer behind TEN undies, which as far as I'm concerned is the sexiest underwear ever designed). Please pleeeaaase!

  • janet

    Love her aesthetic and her couch. Can you possibly tell me where it's from?

  • Katherine Clow

    This was really a great article to read, and I love how she owned being a single mom and showing that she made the choice. Really inspiring.

  • Janine

    Nice post. Very practical, which I love. I appreciate when someone uses the same products for ages. I'm not that good at it. I have a teensy grouping that never changes but I cannot stick to one fragrance.

    I also noticed Maria Duenas Jacob (sp) - for whom you've done a Top Shelf and another post - is now a director at Elle as well. She used to work for Glamour. (I saw Emily in Elle this month too ;) )

  • Jane T.

    It's strange, I usually prefer Top Shelves that belong to people with a larger collection of products, but there's something about Samira that is both real and refined that I like. Her routine is pared down, but not careless. She clearly has wonderful skin, and is one of the few people who looks truly glam with dark circles. It's nice to see a woman who seems to have a deeper understanding of beauty and health. Love this choice Emily!

  • Jane Stevens

    New fashion and new style should always liked by every person. Because everybody need to do something different.

  • Kim

    She is such an inspiration, I love reading your Top Shelf posts!

  • renaphuah

    one of my fave Top Shelf, thanks ITG x

  • sabah

    I love her comments about her under eye.

  • petal and plume

    absolutely loved this. of course.

  • Alissa from ChicPeek

    When I get older, I want to be just as simplistic. She's great!

  • Lush Fab Glam

    She is so right about the Riri woo lipstick the red is amazing especially for tanned/darker tones. We also featured it here, check it out:

  • jennifer

    She's just...legit.

  • Lola

    I know it's not particulary linked to the subject but can you do a topshelf interview with Kate Bosworth ? She's such a beauty inspiration and I bet she'll have a lot of things to say as she is SK-II's ambassador !
    Love from France !

  • Bella

    I've really enjoyed this one. I have recently come to the same conclusion about undereye concealer, and stopped using it. I have also recently (8 months ago) stopped relaxing my hair of similar length and texture, so I enjoyed reading about her favourite products.
    I love her living room and baby!

  • ValerieYoga

    Who makes the pouches? Thank you!

  • Bianca

    Anyone know who makes that brow brush pictured?


Chanel Le Volume De Chanel Mascara
Great Lash Lots Of Lashes Mascara
Cle de Peau Beaute
Cle de Peau Beaute Refining Pressed Powder
Chanel Le Petit Pinceau Touch Up Brush
MAC Eye Kohl Phone Number
NARS Velvet Matte Lipstick Pencil Cruella
MAC Lipstick
Aquaphor Lip Repair
Bioderma Créaline
Valmont Nature Cleansing with a Gel
Valmont 'Prime B-Cellular' Anti-Aging Serum
Valmont Moisturizing Cream
Kerastase Nutritive
Kerastase Nutritive Bain Satin Nutrition Shampoo
RODIN by RECINE olio lusso
Rodin by Recine Olio Lusso Luxury Hair Oil
Tom Ford
Tom Ford Nail Lacquer Scarlet Chinois
Tom Ford
Tom Ford Nail Lacquer Bitter Bitch
Tom Ford Beauty
Tom Ford Beauty Nail Lacquer, Mink Brulee
Serge Lutens
Serge Lutens Feminite Du Bois Fragrance Eau De Parfum
Biotherm by BIOTHERM Deo Pure Antiperspirant Stick