"I got scouted in a post office when I was 16, when I was waiting to buy stamps. This was in the suburb of Paris where I grew up...the next year, I moved to New York. It was like another planet, arriving in a big city by yourself. In Paris, being a black model was not working. But modeling in America gave me the opportunity. It was more open. I stayed in the East Village in a model apartment with 10 other girls—but it was a dream. All of the girls, we were friends. During Fashion Week we were playing music really loud backstage and drinking Champagne and it was the best. Now I'm working with Balmain Hair Couture, and it's funny, because all of the girls from my generation are coming back. It's a little different, because we're all 35 and we have a different way of thinking. There's not so much shame for having a wrinkle, or being 40 or 50 years old. It's a good thing. Fifty years old is not like it used to be—it’s young! You're stronger. You realize being happy is more important.
I take care of my skin like it's my job. [Laughs] Every day, every night, I wash my face. Even if you don’t wear makeup, the pollution…! I use Bioderma Crealine every time I wash my face. Moisturizers, I change every six months. When I finish one, I buy a different one. So it can go from La Roche-Posay to La Mer to Clinique… Now it’s more like wrinkle creams, anti-aging. Right now I'm using Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream from Sephora. I don’t know if my skin would be worse or better if I didn’t use it. I like the natural remedies, too, like how if you drink pineapple juice, apparently you regenerate your skin. I always like to drink green tea for my skin, too. Otherwise, I just always wear sunscreen. Bioderma makes one, but I also like Lierac.
I care for my skin, I care for my body, but I still don’t know how to put makeup on after all these years. So you see, modeling didn’t teach me everything. I wear mascara every day because I love mascara. What I love about it is that even if you’re tired and you pull your hair up, it looks like you have bigger eyes and you look more… voila! If I take it off, I look tired. I used to use Armani, but L’Oreal is the best, and it gives more volume. I use that mascara and Bobbi Brown Blush. In a picture, pink is nice. But in real life, pink will look like I’ve come from the snow. During the day, I like it to look brown. More like I get sun. My foundation, if I wear it, is Chanel Les Beiges. It's the only one I use.
My hair, though, is a big deal. I never do color because I’m scared of drying it out. So yesterday I had a Kérastase mask on my hair all night long! My conditioner is Kérastase, and I try to shampoo once a week. But every morning I wet my hair and apply some conditioner. And I don’t brush with a brush, I put my fingers through it. When I dry, I put on a towel and leave it for like two minutes while I’m getting ready and that’s it. I love to make hair masks at home too—I'll do one over the weekend, once a month, from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. It's argan oil, one egg, and olive oil, and you mix it and pull it through your hair. My mom used to make it, and she'd apply it and then put foil over my hair. So for two days a month, I had aluminum on my head. It works. Natural things work!"
—as told to ITG
Noémie Lenoir photographed by Tom Newton in New York on April 21, 2016.