I have Juliette Binoche’s phone number. I didn’t know it was her number, I assumed it was the number of a publicist, a backup, in case our conference call with her in Paris and me on the South Coast of NSW fell through, and I needed to call her back. As it happens, halfway through our conversation, she tells me she’s going into a tunnel and bam! Cuts out. So I call the number. And she answers. I have Juliette Binoche’s mobile number.
She’s very open, very French, very lovely, and very much an actress. We were speaking because she’d been signed for the second season as the face of Australian fashion label, Blue Illusion, with stores across the country and a website that caters to women 45+ with fashion, shoes and accessories.
Juliette loves being associated with the brand.
“I feel wonderful because the Creative Director is very easy, straight forward, a warm person, so since we started it’s been great to know her. She told me all about the history, where she comes from, how it all happened and how successful her brand is because she’s listening to people’s needs. And that’s the reason of her success. And also, I have my way of wearing things and since last year she’s been changing and adapting [the clothes] a little bit and making the clothes more French,” she laughs, “so there’s been a good collaboration together and I feel this year, we just shot the new line and it’s really close to me.”
Style is something that Juliette didn’t mean to focus on, because her whole life was spent becoming other people for her job. Her story is much like every other actor’s: at the beginning of her career, when she was starting out, she didn’t have the money to spend on fashion.
“When I was younger I was going to castings as an actress, and dressing was always a question for me, because I didn’t have very much money and I had maybe four or five items that I liked and that I felt comfortable and feminine in. And I would wear them over and over and over. Because that was just my life at that time.”
She’s very big on the comfortable, feminine thing, saying that clothes for her are always great quality versions of the basics, with her own flair added in.
“I’m lucky because as an actress you’re helped by stylists or creators that have become close to you, so you develop a sense of style. I have a sense of style because of meeting some people like this who have helped me along the way. So I dress in things that are everyday basics and yet need to be comfortable and beautiful, quite simple. I feel like I need to feel feminine at the same time.”
As a working mother, Juliette was conscious of always having her children with her when they were younger, as much as she could while filming.
“You have to adapt so much as an actress, to either your work and the children’s age because you know, you travel so much and work in so many different countries. Mostly I took my children everywhere. My son I took him absolutely everywhere until he was 10 and same with my daughter. And then after that I asked them if they wanted to come or stay home and then if they wanted to come, I would always organise a life, a family life as good as possible. Which means a French school and the nanny would come with me. You have to give the space, the money, everything, in order to have this life. Because this life is all about passion, being an actor, it’s passionate work. We’re privileged enough to be in that place, and we earn quite well so we have to give it a real awareness of what’s important in life. And children are important and love is important and building an education is important. So for me, it’s always been a priority.”
Juliette has some really memorable films, from The English Patient to Chocolat. Her latest project is one that she got off the ground herself, Clouds of Sils Maria, about “a veteran actress who comes face-to-face with an uncomfortable reflection of herself when she agrees to take part in a revival of the play that launched her career 20 years earlier,” so says the spiel.
“I called Olivier [Assayas, the Director],” says Juliette, “and suggested that we make a film together about women, these three characters. But I would say that he really made the script himself. Yeah so that was my impulse, my intuition in wanting to work with him.”
Coming as a surprise to me was the news that Juliette works with an acting coach in the lead up, and sometimes during a movie. “I worked with Susan Batson, who’s a coach, and we worked together to prepare because on set there’s no time,” she explains, “Directors are very good at shooting the camera and the movement, the editing and all that, but in terms of acting they don’t always have the awareness of how much work it requires. So I like to work sometimes in advance so that I’m prepared. That’s my responsibility.” And clearly why she’s won an Oscar.
She’s worn some beautiful things on the red carpet, her favourite standouts being, “a blue dress I had on the carpet at Cannes Festival that Alber Elbaz from Lanvin created that I really loved. And there was a Balenciaga I wore for a premiere in New York that I liked very much. Those two are the ones I remember the most.”
And of course, she has some sage fashion advice we can all heed. “Fashion has to do with your body and how your body is, what shape you are,” she says, “So you try things on and you see if you are comfortable and if you feel feminine. Showing your body, I find more interesting than hiding it, which doesn’t mean you need to show your boobs and be outrageous, but your body has a history, has a language. So you have to find something that you feel comfortable and not too exposed, but at the same time it’s always nice to see the form, the shape. It’s feminine and you don’t feel like you are behind the curtain.”
See the Blue Illusion collection at www.blueillusion.com
Do you love Juliette as much as we do? Tell us below!…