Jeanne Damas, Founder & Designer, Rouje


"I grew up here, in Paris. Because of that, Paris is like a village to me. It’s tiny, tiny. I know everyone, I walk everywhere, and I don’t use the metro. You can go all the way to the other side of Paris by bike in 15 minutes—I think New York is 15 times bigger. What I really love about Paris are the terraces, because they are everywhere. Even in winter we are on the terrace, seeing people on the streets, smoking cigarettes...but I know it’s not cool to smoke, and I only do it at night. You can do everything in a terrace—you can be alone, read, be with friends, be with your boyfriend, see people. When I am not in France, I’m always looking for terraces.

For years my parents had a restaurant—a brasserie—and I grew up in an apartment above it. My parents moved when they sold the restaurant, but me, I wanted to stay in the apartment. I said, ‘I’m staying, I’m staying, I’m staying’—I was a nightmare at 16. [Laughs] So they said, 'OK,' and I lived there with my boyfriend. Yeah, it was a little bit too early. I was the worst at school—I didn’t go, I was partying, I was going everywhere. Now I don’t regret it, but at that time, it was a little bit difficult because I was lost and crazy. At 17 I started to do some modeling, so I was making some money, but I still felt lost. I started to go to theater school, and I did four or five years doing classic theater, and some improv. I like acting because it’s a way to not be shy, and to express yourself differently. It’s a good way to get to know yourself. Now sometimes I act for friends—I do it because it’s an experience and I love it, but really it’s for [those friends]. I was in a movie one year ago with Marion Cotillard as a guest actress. Always like that, just one shot, but I love it.

I have a lot of close girlfriends—I’m really a girl’s girl. Women inspire me in general. I love girls, women, my mother and my sister. I love to take pictures of my girlfriends, I always did my sister’s makeup. When I was younger, I always said that I wanted to be a makeup artist. Actually, I forgot, but just after school I did an internship for Yves Saint Laurent in beauty. I was really interested in makeup. It’s funny because it’s all about women, all the time. Nathalie Dumeix—you know her? She’s a stylist, and she had this brand and boutique right next to my parents’ restaurant. From when I was 10, I always would go there after school to talk with her. We were friends, even though she was 30 years older than me. She started doing some clothes on me, and we’d talk and talk about guys, and my life, and my parents—everything, I was a teenager. Now she’s the [designer] at Rouje with me. She taught me about fashion, and making clothes, and we had this fusion. She knows me so well, and I know her. With Rouje I wanted to create my perfect wardrobe, for every season. It started with those 25 pieces—all my classics, a dress, jeans, even shoes. I called it Rouje, because rouge is red [in French]. I didn’t want to call it Jeanne Damas, because for me it was more of a brand I created with some people, not just me. I don’t feel like a designer, you know?

My mom always told me to not go into the sun. When I was on vacation with my sister, we went with hats and T-shirts, and we didn’t go outside between noon and four. I have always had baby skin with no problems at all. I didn’t think about it—I just have good genes for skin. Even when I was a teenager I didn’t have acne, but one year ago I quit the pill after a decade. For the first time in my life, I had acne. Like, real acne, on my jawline. I thought, oh my God, what is this, and I went to a dermatologist. I started to take care of my skin more, and I got a concealer from Glossier, and now I can’t live without it. I don’t have pimples anymore, but they left a few marks. My dermatologist also gave me Cutacnyl, and if you have a pimple, you put that on it and it works. You have to see a doctor to get it, but it’s the best. I use it when I have my period—I always have one pimple. You put it on at night, and the pimple doesn’t get bigger after that.

I don’t cleanse, I’m French. No, I’m kidding! [Laughs] Of course I do. I do my favorite milk cleanser, from Joelle Ciocco. I have all of her products, and they’re the best. I used to use Bioderma, but I don’t anymore because you have to use a cotton and you don’t wash it—it stays on your skin, and I think it’s not good. Now I have just Joelle Ciocco. I double cleanse with that morning and night. And after, I put on a lotion from her. Then I use the oil. I used to do a cream, but I prefer oil—it’s really more nourishing for the skin, and you can massage it in. It’s really expensive, but it lasts a long time because you just use a little bit. And once a week I do a mask—my favorite is from Sisley, La Rose Noire. I put it on and I go to sleep with it, and I have to sleep weirdly so it doesn’t get all over. But it’s OK, because the day after everyone asks me, ‘What did you do to your skin?’ It’s crazy. I do it once a week. Oh, and every morning I put on a La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreen—it’s the best. Every morning. And, voilà. That’s it, and then I do my makeup.

I always have some lipstick on, so I decided to make my own. I like when [a lipstick look] is not perfect, even if it’s a little bit too much or too little. I used to say I don’t understand why people put makeup on their skin—but now I laugh, because I was young and I didn’t have to worry about my skin. Now I understand! [Laughs] Now I use makeup, but I still love to see the skin. I think it’s really French—generally, we take imperfections as a positive, and think it’s cool to be different. We don’t want to all look the same. The beauty is more about charm.

I do my makeup really quickly, with my finger. On my brows I use Glossier Boy Brow in Clear. I curl my eyelashes, but I don’t have mascara at home, just for shooting. I love to see the natural lashes. After that I use the Glossier concealer, the first concealer I used in my life. I put it under my eyes, around my nose, and on my marks and any pimples. Then I use my lipstick—it depends what color, red, brown, pink—and I put the lipstick on my cheeks, and sometimes on the nose so it’s more natural. And that’s it. And I reapply lipstick all day—I feel naked without lipstick. Even when I go to sports, I have no other makeup, no concealer, but lipstick, yeah. I don’t know, when you’re used to it it’s difficult to stop. I love red, but lately I prefer this mauve, rosy color. And then I like to use a lip pencil from MAC in Spice. I want to start using bronzer—I don’t know how to do it—I have to ask someone. This one is from Pierre Fabre. But I discovered highlighter from Glossier—I have Topaz, and I love it.

My hair is really easy. I don’t have a lot of hair. It’s funny, I love New York because when I go there my hair gets curly, from the humidity and the weather. In Paris it’s flat—I have to move to New York for a good hair day. [Laughs] I wash it every day with Leonor Greyl shampoo. I like natural shampoo, because it’s stickier and adds volume to flat hair. I don’t use conditioner, just one shampoo every day. And after the shower when my hair is still wet, I use the Hair Serum from David Mallett. It’s like an oil, and I put it like that for one minute and scrunch it in. It makes the texture perfect. I go to Delphine Courteille for my cut, she has been my hairdresser for eight years. She cuts my bangs—she knows how to cut it ‘bad,’ because I like it not too perfect. Sometimes it’s not a bang, and sometimes it’s a bang, and she knows how to do it right. I also go to David Mallett for color sometimes, but now I don’t do anything to the color. On my body, I use Buly lotion—I love the smell. But my fragrance is just for decoration. I never use fragrance—I like to smell the real odor of people. I don’t know why.”

—as told to ITG

Jeanne Damas photographed by Tom Newton in Paris on October 16, 2018.