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Lili Barbery-Coulon, Beauty Editor, Vogue Paris

Lili Barbery-Coulon
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Lili Barbery-Coulon
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Lili Barbery-Coulon
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Lili Barbery-Coulon
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Lili Barbery-Coulon
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Lili Barbery-Coulon
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Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
Lili Barbery-Coulon
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“I’ve been in the beauty business for the past eight years as a beauty editor. I write about hair and makeup, health, spa, but most of the time I write about perfume. I specialize in perfume. A few years ago I had the chance to do a short training at Givaudan, which is a big house that makes perfume for a lot of companies. I used to go every second Wednesday afternoon with a perfumer who would show me how to smell different materials—natural materials, synthetic materials. I’m not an expert as a nose, I cannot recognize directly, but the more you practice, the better you get. It’s like piano. So if you do smell perfume a lot, then it gets easier. It seems like you are blind at the beginning, because everything is just so new and you have to discover what kind of molecules are hidden behind this type of material. And then, after a while it just gets easier and easier. I just really love perfumers. I love meeting them, interviewing them. Their whole world really does inspire me. And I even like the marketing behind parfum. It’s always a game, it’s very funny to start smelling something and to try to see how you feel connected to your own memories, to your own experiences. Going through a field of flowers, or sitting at the beach and having a smell of fresh air, or being in a forest. You have to reconnect to all these kinds of experiences and I think it just makes you feel a bit richer in a way, you know?

I collect a lot of perfumes. It’s very hard for me to get rid of the good ones. There are a lot of fragrances that make me sad when I smell them—it’s just boring, same thing, and you’re not able to tell the difference between two of them because they are all flowery, musky, fruity. But sometimes you do have a great surprise. There are some people who make the difference in the industry. Very small brands who try to do different stuff, and brands like Chanel, who do amazing work trying to defend all the natural materials so that there’s still rose and jasmine in the South of France. If brands like Chanel did not defend these fields in the south of France it would just be parking lots and hotels, because most of the fields have disappeared there, and it’s the same story everywhere because it costs so much money to have people work in the fields and collect flowers. It’s so much work—I understand why the farmers just sell their parcels of land and just say, ‘Let’s get over with it.’ [Laughs]

There are a few brands that I absolutely love. I love the way they create, and their universe when you meet them, when you go to their labs, and they’re so excited about showing you a new accord, a new absolute that they’re using or a new way of extraction that makes the flower purer or that makes a patchouli less earthy. Serge Lutens is one of my favorites. There was no way I could give the products away. It just didn’t feel right. So I started collecting every single perfume I would get from the brand. I love opening the bottles and just smelling them, and I make my daughter smell them too, because it’s very important to get trained because we’re not used to using our nose anymore. It used to be one of the most efficient senses of all the senses. It used to enable you to be able to say, ‘Is this food going to make me sick?’ Or, ‘Is there danger somewhere?’ Or, ‘Am I attracted to this person?’ You would be driven by your nose all the time. And now, we’ve shot our connections to fragrances, to skin—like, skin has to smell fresh and clean all the time. We’re covered with products that don’t let us smell the original skin, like, no odor—our fragrance, our scent. I think it’s very important that we all train ourselves to smell because it makes you feel better when you have food. For my kid, I mean, I think parfum should be taught in school. It would be so great, to be able to read, to smell, you know? To read, smell, write—just part of everything. But of course, it’s not something that people think is important. I try to let her smell.

So Serge Lutens, and then Frédéric Malle—I absolutely love the guy. I think he’s so elegant and very stylish. He’s the last gentleman, really. Anytime I see him in Paris or in New York he’s opening doors for you, and you have the feeling you’re in Mad Men, but not in a bad way, you know? Not in the chauvinistic way. He’s clearly the greatest technician when he speaks about perfume. He’s been in the industry forever, and he knows all the perfumes by heart, which means that anytime he smells something, he can say, ‘Okay, they mixed this perfume and this perfume together,’ and he’s able to explain all the details of perfume. I love this about him. There’s one of his perfumes, Noir Epices, that I don’t wear during the day, but I wear it sometimes at night. The effect is amazing because people stop you and ask you, ‘What are you wearing?’ It’s a real mystery. You either hate it or like it, but you have to ask, ‘What is it?’ because it’s very deep, very dark. But it feels good, you know? To have something like this for when you’re feeling really sexy.

I also really like Lynn Harris—she does the brand Miller Harris, an English brand. Those perfumes, I mean, I love them. I see the designer behind them. She’s such a wonderful person. So anytime I smell her perfume, there’s a real style. We met when I was the PR assistant at Colette ages ago. I used to work there and this is maybe where I got to really like beauty, because we had all these brands. At the time, there was not any other place in Paris where you could find Kiehl’s, NARS, Bumble and bumble, Aesop. All these brands were brand new in France, and Colette brought them to Paris. I mean, she convinced all of these brands to be sold in this place, and it really changed beauty because for the first time, a fashion shop would work like a magazine with a beauty section, and it would be changed all the time. I got to learn so much at Colette, translating press releases from English into French, meeting all the people behind these brands—Michael Gordon, the founder of Bumble and bumble when he was still doing everything, before he sold it. I mean, all of these people were just starting their businesses about ten years ago or—not starting—but it wasn’t as big as it is right now. Kiehl’s had not been bought by L’Oreal. It was still an American brand, very small, very tiny. And yeah, it was funny, the excitement behind the customers who would come to Colette and buy something—like all these brands that were still unknown. They would get so excited about having a coriander wash by Kiehl’s. NARS, for example—it’s not at Colette, but sometimes they would sell maybe one limited edition NARS thing.

About perfume brands, because I was still thinking about other people in perfumes, there’s this new guy, Ben Gorham who started Byredo. It’s funny because when he started the brand, I wasn’t really supportive. He likes to say I was a real bitch to him at the beginning because I was very sick of all these new perfume brands that were all saying, ‘We try to do something different,’ and I had met a few of them in a row, and Ben was just one in this row. So I was very arrogant and very skeptical, and I wasn’t very nice to him. I just said, ‘Yeah, yeah. So why are you doing perfume? You. Where do you come from?’ And he said, 'Well, I’ve never done anything with perfume, I don’t know anything about perfume. I just try to do very good briefs and bring them to perfumers,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah yeah yeah yeah…’ And then he invited me stop in to see the opening of the shop. At the beginning I said no, because I felt, ‘A shop in Stockholm? There’s no way I’d be allowed to talk about it in French Vogue.’ But he convinced me to come, and I went there, and I was very surprised. I realized there was a real vision behind it, and it did look really good. And then I thought, ‘Okay, I’m very French,’ in a way. He made me feel very French, because in France we respect hierarchy, and we respect the ones who did something before you—they’re always maybe better than you. And it’s very hard to create something in France because we feel inhibited. We have so many masterpieces here that you always think, you know, ‘What’s the point? What’s the point of doing something new?’ There’s the Chanel—I absolutely love Chanel perfume; I’m wearing the No. 19—there’s so much great stuff. Why would you start something new? In the US, it’s the exact opposite. You know, you have this freedom to create. You don’t ask yourself too many questions, and you go there. They don’t ask themselves if it’s good or if it’s not. They just do it. He made me realize I was very French and snobby about the whole thing. You know? And so I changed my mind and then I started talking about his perfumes. And I think that the perfume he made with M/MM/Mink—is amazing. It’s very refreshing to see people who dare, doing some things, some perfumes, that do not smell that good. You know, it’s not about smelling good, or smelling fresh, it’s about smelling different. And I appreciate that.

But then I’ve always loved makeup, and I don’t know. I’m just so excited when I receive makeup. I’m always looking for the right lipsticks; I try all of them on my hands. Putting it on your hand is a very bad way to know how it will look on yourself, but it’s just that sometimes I get so many products that I have to do something, or else I don’t have enough lips—you know? [Laughs] And I think it’s part of the game. I see my daughter—she doesn’t wear makeup of course, and I don’t let her touch my products—but I see how fascinated she is with the products I’m using, and I see the gesture of her copying me. It’s like doing paintings, you know? It’s still kid stuff, makeup, for me. And it’s a great way to be stylish with very little money, because you can wear a very simple white t-shirt and a pair of jeans—a great lipstick will make the whole attitude different. The best red lipstick ever, to me, is the Rouge d’Armani 400. It’s a red that matches every face, whether you’re very white, very pale or a bit tanned. On a blond-haired girl, it’s amazing. Anytime I wear it, people just tell me, ‘Oh, it makes you look so good!’ Wearing lipstick does make you change the way you’re standing. It’s like high heels. You can’t eat, you have to be cautious when you kiss people, you have to check that it’s not moving or anything. So the whole attitude is more precious. Nails do this to you too, by the way. I love the way that makeup makes you feel—better. But I never wear any foundation; it doesn’t work for me. I see the product, and I feel covered. I feel as if I had a mask, even with the new products that are lightweight, and all the products that say you don’t see it—I see it. I wear concealer though—I’ve tried every single concealer ever. The one that works for me, I get it from New York, actually, and it’s from Three Custom Color Specialists. The texture is perfect—it’s a bit elastic. You can really work it out, you can just put a tiny bit, and then you pull it on your face, and it just works really well.

I don’t wear lipstick everyday, but I wear concealer and blush everyday. I mean, I cannot leave without concealer and blush. It just makes you feel so fresh—immediately! Correction, just a tiny bit of blush. The blush—I change all the time, but it’s never going to be that strong because I’m always doing something very natural with my face. I like to maybe change the color a tiny bit and get it to match with what I’m wearing. I like cream colors, cream-color blush. I’m wearing NARS Orgasm The Multiple. I’m using it on my eyes and on my cheeks. I tap it on my hand until it’s very very light, and I tap my eyes so it just makes a tiny bit of light come out of your face. I used to do very smoky eyes, and I don’t anymore. Maybe because now that I’ve past thirty—I’m thirty-four—I have the feeling it’s making me look older. I think the older I get, the less makeup I wear. I’m focusing on getting fresh—I just want to be fresh. So makeup for me is blush, concealer, and a very good multiple—all by NARS. I love all their multiples, mine are ten years old, I still wear them. I don’t feel very hygenic [laughs], but I cannot get rid of them, and they last forever! I wear this, and a tiny bit of powder. If I have a tan I might wear some Terracotta by Guerlain, or Laura Mercier Bronzer Powder, which I think is very good because it’s matte. I hate when there’s glitter. And now the primers—all of them have shimmer and I hate that! They say it makes wrinkles look less, but I think it’s the opposite—I think it makes everything worse. And then I’ll just do a little bit of mascara. I used to wear tons of mascara, then I saw a picture of myself and I looked so vulgar! [Laughs] So I just came to realize that—years after—so I’m just wearing a tiny bit now. I like Chanel Inimitable in Black, and I like the Lancôme mascaras. All of their mascaras are very well-made and if you’re looking for a lot of volume, the Hypnôse one is amazing. If you’re looking for length, then they have another one which is I think is Definicil—that works really well, it’s very natural.

Skincare. So thanks to my friend Victoire de Taillac—I discovered Joëlle Ciocco in Paris. I go there once a year. She doesn’t take care of my skin because she is too expensive—to see her, to have a treatment by her, I think it’s something like €800 or €750. But I interview her a lot, and we really like each other. So she still gives me so much advice and she looks at my skin, and she will tell me, ‘You have to switch this product to this product,’ and ‘You have to start taking supplements’. She’s like the Dr. House—you know, the TV show—of skin. She’s got a big magnifying glass—a huge one so you just see her eye [laughs] like this, in front of your face. And there’s no way of lying to her, because she’ll know. She’ll know if you’ve been eating well, if you’ve protected your skin from the sun, if you’ve been cleansing it properly. And the whole philosophy behind Joëlle Ciocco is cleansing your skin in the right way. There’s no point in buying all of her products, or if you have the money, you can, but if you don’t have the money, you just have to buy the one miracle product, which is the Lait Onctueux Capital. It’s a cleansing milk. I’ve tried like, every single cleansing product on the market and there’s not another one like it—and I still buy it; I get everything for free, but this product I’m still buying at Colette every two or three months. It’s like a cream at the beginning, and then it becomes very white, and then it becomes an oil. You have to massage your skin for three minutes—it’s like brushing your teeth. You use your hands gently; you don’t stimulate too much your skin. She teaches you how to do it. And once it’s oily, it’s the signal that you have to rinse it, and when you rinse it, it goes back to milk again. And your skin is super clean. So you only do this at nighttime, you don’t do this in the morning. It does everything. Well, I use it on my eyes, but some people cannot bare it, so I have another product that I love for my eyes which is the Solution Diffuse by Chanel—it’s the eye makeup remover. I’ll take off the mascara first, and then I use the cleansing milk. Even if you’re not wearing any makeup, you have to do it every night. If you stop doing it, you see the difference. If you start doing it, I’m telling you, in two weeks time you will see the difference. I know it sounds like a miracle product, and it’s like the beauty editor telling you, you know, ‘This product…’ but I truly believe in that product. And I think that even though there’s loads of products in my bathroom, if I had to buy just two products it’s just her cleanser, and then a moisturizer.

A good moisturizer, you can find in any pharmacy in France. I do wear Joëlle Ciocco’s lotion, which is Lotion Lactée. It’s a milky lotion. I wear it at night, and I wear it in the morning just to wake up my skin. At night, I use the Advanced Night Repair by Estée Laude r, the serum. I’ve used this for a very long time. Just a serum, and the eye product that they launched. I really do believe that repairing your DNA, or at least trying to repair that which is caused by pollution, sun—everything that your skin is exposed to—is the least you can do. And it’s not an anti-age product, it’s just about trying to repair your skin at night. So I’m a great believer of that product. Of course, I don’t have any proof, it just works well for me. I like Aesop products too. The shops in Paris are amazing, I love them. I love the guy who created the brand, Denis. It’s the most intellectual brand, because when you meet Denis, you don’t talk about beauty, you talk about the books he read and the restaurants he’s been to. He’s very very intelligent. I like the Camellia Nut facial cream. It’s very simple, I like the scent, it makes you feel as if you’re in a spa, and the scents disappear too. They don’t stay on your face—I don’t like products that do smell strong. I switch from Aesop moisturizer to Embryolisse when my skin is too oily, because for me, it’s light. I’m wearing the Lait Crème. If I need something more moisturizing because my skin is very dry, I use this SkinCeuticals Emollience which I think is very good. In the morning I don’t wear any antioxidant serum or anything like this because Joëlle thinks that it’s still too early for my skin. I listen to what she says.

I hate my hair. I wish it was so much thicker, and I wish I had so much more of it. But anyway, I have to get on with it. I get my haircut by either Eric Roman or David Mallett. I love those two hairdressers, and they’re very very nice people. I think David’s hair salon is one of the most beautiful places in Paris. He has so many very famous girls—Diane Kruger, Natalie Portman, Christy Turlington, and so many French actresses. And Eric is just very nice, very easy, very simple. So he’s not famous for a list of stars, but he’s got the real girls who complain about their hair and he just loves making you feel better about it. I’m very self-conscious with hairdressers. I don’t dare tell them, ‘I don’t like this,’ or ‘I don’t want my hair that way.’ Sometimes I let them do stuff and I’m not very happy with it—and he sees it. He sees in my eyes that I’m not happy, and he will change it until I’m really really glowing walking out of the hairdresser, and really happy with my haircut. I don’t do much to it otherwise. Anything that sells volume, I will buy. Thickening products—I’ve tried all of them. There’s one that really works well for me. It’s the Thickening Lotion by John Frieda. Then, for beach-y style, I love the Surf Spray by Bumble. If you're going to put your hair up, it’s great because it makes your hair stay together. Anytime I go to the seaside, my hair looks great, and I wish I could keep this thickness that you get from having your hair in the water. I’m trying every shampoo I get. At the moment I’m using the Fekkai Volume line. It’s working quite well. I wash my hair every second day. It would be better if I washed every three days, but I can’t. Every second day is my limit. I used a spray by Bumble, the brown hair powder. The white stuff doesn’t work because I have brown hair and it makes your hair grey but the brown powder by Bumble is okay. I wouldn’t use it to replace shampoo, though. It’s not as fresh as having clean hair.

I do get my hair a tiny bit darker at Eric Roman. Their colorist is amazing. I used to do a lot of dyeing I tried all the colors. Now I’ve been brunette for a very long time, and my husband doesn’t like me to change my hair. Even changing my part, he’s looking at me and going, ‘It’s weird!’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s nice,’ and he’s like, ‘No, it’s weird. It doesn’t look good.’ [Laughs] My wedding was like a dream-come-true. There’s a perfumer called Francis Kurkdjian, who I really really love. He created Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her, and he’s got his own house of perfumes called Maison Francis Kurkdjian. He’s amazing, and he created a special perfume for me, just for my wedding—it was a perfume to scent bubbles. People would blow bubbles, and each guest got the bubble perfume when they left. It was so poetic.”

—as told to ITG

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