"I bought my first French Vogue when I was 13. This was in the '80s... I was always passionate about fashion magazines, even when I was young. I would collect ads, so eventually I decided to go to art school for advertising. I eventually moved to Paris and got an internship at French Elle doing graphic design, and then I got a job doing design at French Glamour. Self Service started around then. In the early '90s that was a crazy idea—in London there was i-D and The Face, but there weren't any independent magazines in Paris. But we started it anyway.
We were nobody in the beginning—we were young and we wanted to promote a whole generation. We did fashion, music, and art—we were friends with Daft Punk and did an article on them when they were young musicians, and we [featured] young designers like Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane, Véronique Branquinho... In the beginning there were two or three of us, so we had to do everything. We'd write the articles, style the pictures, do layout—I did the layout for the first 25 issues—and go to the printer and distribute. The transition from graphic designer to stylist, and then Fashion Director of Self Service, came very naturally. Styling used to be about dressing, choosing, and picking the clothes. Now it's more about creating an image. A fashion image has to say something. And it has to live for much longer than a season.
Fashion is about character—and that's why I love portraiture. You sometimes have to photograph the clothes, but you can really see a person in their portrait. Usually that's where beauty comes in. I like when it's organic to the photo. If there's makeup, I still want to see the person behind it. It's all about the person, not about the makeup. A red lip gives character, but you still see the personality. Good makeup is makeup that you don't notice right away. There are a bunch of artists I love working with—Lucia Pica, Aaron de Mey, Peter Phillips. I love Thomas de Kluyver, you'll have to look him up. He's a really inspiring person.
I have a uniform when it comes to makeup. I have two kids, so I don't have an hour to spend in the bathroom every morning—it has to be quick and efficient. I use a lot of product underneath my eyes because I have very dark circles. Even if I sleep a lot, unfortunately. There's nothing I can do about them. But I use this Armani Maestro Eraser, which they stopped making even though it's quite good, and on top, I put on the YSL Touche Éclat. Then I use this Diorshow Lash Plumping Serum that I got from Peter. It does do something, even if I don't know exactly what that is. [Laughs] Over that, I'll wear the Diorshow Iconic Overcurl. I like really big eyes.
I never wear lipstick. It just doesn't feel like me. When I was younger I would wear red lipstick because I liked the idea of it, but not anymore. After a while, you know what suits you. Sometimes I use Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss—they're really good. They make my lips just a tiny little darker than my real color, and it looks very natural. I buy several at the same time because I use them so much. I wear Clinique blush, too, very classic. I like Clinique.
Homeoplasmine—love! My lips are always dry, and if it works for my kids, it works for me. Homeoplasmine is very French pharmacy. To be honest, I've tried a lot of extraordinaire and luxe creams for my skin, and I'm always looking for something not too oily or too shiny. I'll find one and use that, but then I switch. Psychologically you're always hoping for that WOW cream, which doesn't exist, and you want to believe whoever sells you or gives you the right thing. Overall, I'll always use Embryolisse, which is very typically French. It's not too dry and it layers well under makeup.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser is my face wash. It's a really deep clean for my sensitive skin. That's what I've been using for the past 20 years, so it works, I guess. I hope! I like the Lipikar Lait every day, too—for body lotion, moisturizer, everything. My skin is very dry but I really like that. It's funny because I see La Roche-Posay in America at fancy dermatologist offices, and it's like, 'Really?!' We get it at the pharmacy for 20 euro. That's funny, no?
NAILS & BODY
I go running as much as I can. I wake up between 5 and 6 in the morning and make breakfast. I have food obsessions, and right now, I’m like all avocado toast and orange juice and coffee. Then I wake up my children between 7 and 8. I take my son to school, and then I go for a run. I go at least five times a week—that’s very important. If I could, I would run every day. It’s like taking a shower, even though you take a shower after, but it's necessary for my mental health. It's like meditation.
My feet don't look very nice now [Laughs] but I love a pedicure. I go to a place next to the office called Institut Carlota, on Avenue Hoche. A lot of people go, mostly older women, but it's really good. And kind of old-fashioned. I only use Chanel Le Vernis—I love Dragon. It's like the lips! I love to put red lips on girls, but I only put red on my feet.
The hair! Most of the time I wear a ponytail, that’s my uniform for hair. I wash it every day because of the running, and I use Christophe Robin's Clarifying Shampoo with Chamomile. I figured it would be good for me, because I'm bleaching my hair. I'm an ashy blond—kind of greyish looking. I get it colored once a month, and my good friend cuts it from time to time. But I should do more to it. See, I have all of these products and I never use them. My hairstylist tells me I should do something, and I don't. I don't know how to blow dry. [Laughs] Seriously, I don't! I'm not going to pretend. I got it cut yesterday, and then I just slept on it. I don't even like it right after the hairstylist's—I don't like when it looks too perfect."
—as told to ITG
Suzanne Koller photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Paris on November 30, 2016.