"My first job out of Catholic school was at a discotheque. I was taking coats at the door. I loved to dance, so it was like paradise. It was the best job I could find because I got to dress up with a different look every night. But it was a resort town, only alive during the summer, so I got bored. I ended up moving to Paris and working everywhere—in shops, for restaurants, everything, for 10 years before I opened my first vintage shop. It was really small, and I called it Thanx God I'm a VIP—that was from working the door at the discotheque. I'd had enough with clubs, who's VIP, who's not a VIP, and it's ironic because it means nothing. You're always a VIP for somebody, even if it's just your mother. [Laughs] But that's enough. You can come in my shop and for 50 euro, I'll make you a VIP.
When I opened my shop in '95, I was the one of the first people in Paris who sold European secondhand—the dresses of our mothers and grandmothers. You had some places that sold Amercian stuff, streetwear, Levi's, and that's all good but I was pretty much alone. You have to really look for things. I like to buy sometimes in dirty places. For me, it's a game to find pieces. It's suspenseful, you know?
I tend to stay away from open dresses, short things, or high heels. Too much skin... It's dangerous. I'm 52, and I feel like it makes me look older. I don't have any favorite designers, and I like to mix things. Right now I'm wearing Jil Sander from the '80s, mixed with something '30s from the Scottish Army. Nice, huh? I really like wearing men's clothes. They're very easy.
My skincare products are men's, too. A lot of women's products [here in France] are perfumed, and I don't like that. My skin is very sensitive and I need things to be simple. Something nice and cheap, very good, no perfumes, nothing. My cleanser is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel, which I buy from the pharmacy. It makes me feel very clean. My day moisturizer is the Shiseido Moisturizing Emulsion for Men, which is great for under makeup. And my night cream is Dermagor H2O Radical Emulsion Anti-Aging. It feels very comfortable, and it's the same thing as a fancy night cream but less expensive.
My friend is a makeup artist, and once he did my makeup for a picture and he used this amazing cream. I said, 'Give me the name!' and I went to buy it. You know the brand Sultane de Saba? It's a mask of theirs. It’s not shiny, it’s not sticky, and I like the smell—orange blossom. They have an exfoliating salt that I do in the shower. Sometimes when I’m out of moisturizer, I put pure argan oil on my face and it’s fabulous. Some people don’t like the smell, but me, I like it. Now it’s in fashion to put argan oil in everything, but 30 years ago nobody had heard about argan oil, and it was impossible to find here. But I know it’s very good for skin and hair and everything.
The first thing I apply is Filorga Anti-Ageing Beauty Balm, and then I put my makeup on over that. I try to be careful because I think on me, too much color can look ugly. My father is French, from Brittany, and my mother was from Morocco. My daughter has really white skin and blue eyes—everything looks good on her. I have tan skin and big brows, and too much makeup looks vulgar on me. Except my lipstick, that I like red. I can go outside with nothing on but not without lipstick. But that’s French, huh. When I wake up and I see my face without lipstick it’s like I’m dead. I'm wearing YSL Rouge Pur Couture in 203, but I have every kind.
The YSL Touche Éclat is great—I use it on my dark circles and spots, and then I use Shu Uemura Translucent Powder because I hate shine. Right now I'm using Chanel Sublime Mascara, but I might not buy it again—it's too much [money]. But I always use this Arcancil Starliner Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil in Bleu Nacré. Always blue, too. I think my mother bought it when she was young, so I know it works.
I wash my hair with...actually, I don't care about shampoo. I use whatever my husband has. Right now it's Garnier Ultra Doux Shampoo with Avocado. My hair is just so dry. If I didn't wash it for three weeks, I don't think it would matter. No styling, nothing. I've colored my hair all my life, though. I've had the same girl do it for years. She comes to do it once a month, because I’ve been grey since I was 20 years old. Grey hair makes me look old. My husband is 18 years younger than me, and I don't want to have white hair. Maybe some day.
BODY & FRAGRANCE
My deodorant is Nivea's Pure Invisible one, which I share with my husband. I don't like to have too many girly things. Except my body cream—Sisley Confort Extrême body cream for very dry areas, because I have dry skin and it works. My perfume is Maison des Senteurs Fleur D’Oranger. I don't like so many women's perfumes, but I love orange blossom. I also love L'Artisan Parfumeur—I have their Premier Figuier. They used to make a fleur d'oranger but they stopped. I have the empty bottle, and sometimes I look at it and cry." [Laughs]
—as told to ITG
Sylvie Chateigner photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Paris on March 9, 2016.