Emily In Paris Is An Audrey Hepburn Fantasy Of French-Girl Beauty

Cat Quinn
·6-min read

Imagine if Carrie Bradshaw went to Paris and, instead of being snubbed by her boyfriend’s snobby friends, losing her beloved name-plate necklace, and getting slapped, she dumped the loser, went to the ballet solo, and spent weeks gallivanting the city in bucket hats and black tulle — leaving a trail of hot French men in her wake. That’s roughly the premise of Netflix’s Emily In Paris, a fashion-stuffed, 10-episode brain-candy binge from Sex and the City creator Darren Star.

The show follows Chicago-based marketing expert Emily Cooper (Lily Collins) as she travels to Paris to bring an “American perspective” to her firm’s global advertising team. She lands at Charles de Gaulle airport with beachy influencer waves, loud mixed patterns, and stars in her eyes — only to be very quickly schooled by her colleagues in the Parisian art of refinement. “Lily came from Chicago to Paris — a new life, new job, and also new relationship. The more [time] she spends in Paris, the more she takes involve in her image,” the show’s Paris-based hairstyling lead, Mike Desir, tells me.

After her first friend in Paris, Mindy Chen (Ashley Park), tells her that she “looks American,” Cooper starts to evolve her style. Her waves get a little smoother, her lipstick gets a little deeper, and her fashion shifts from wild prints to a chic muted palette that wouldn’t look out of place on the Metro. “She was girly and already had a sense of perfection. Naturally, she became a bit more sophisticated,” the show’s Paris-based lead makeup artist, Aurélie Payne, tells me. “All the details concerning her makeup, her hair, her clothes had to be at the top of fashion as she lived in Paris, the city of fashion.”

But Emily’s romanticised version of French-girl” beauty — which is much more Audrey Hepburn than Caroline de Maigret — still doesn’t quite live up to that of her colleagues. “It’s that je ne sais quoi French feel and undone chic quality that feels quite European in comparison to Emily’s more ‘done’ look,” Desir says. “[Emily] feels everything is in place and has to look perfect and done, whereas the French ladies allow their hair to fall out of place and they embrace the imperfections.”

Whether you’re drawn to Emily’s Funny Face aesthetic or the “less is more” vibe of her colleagues, beauty tips (and Netflix baes) abound in this show. So settle in and scroll ahead as the Emily In Paris hair-and-makeup team share their top behind-the-scenes tricks for French-girl beauty — however you define it.

How To Prevent Hat Hair — The French Way

To achieve Emily’s glossy waves, which somehow never frizz under a parade of bucket hats and berets, Desir relied on Bumble & Bumble hairspray for “great hold and soft texture.” Instead of fixing her hat hair between scenes, he prevented it by styling her waves in a middle part, loosely twisting her front pieces back, and then placing the accessory on her head. That way, when Emily takes off her hat, her face-framing waves bounce right back into place. C’est beau.

With Skin Care, Consistency Is Key

Any French makeup artist will tell you: The best looks start with beautiful skin. “Keeping Lily’s skin perfect was my goal during those four months filming in Paris,” Payne tells me. “As a makeup artist for almost 20 years, I know that skin care is the most important everyday ritual before makeup. That’s why I needed the best products.”

Payne started by misting Quantum Botanika Herbal Water on Collins’ face before mixing the brand’s hydrating gel with a few drops of facial oil and thoroughly massaging the cocktail into her skin. (The line is from London-based facialist Nataliya Robinson and available in the U.K.) She prepped her lips with the brand’s lip balm, smoothed Collagena Hydrogel Patches (you’ll find them at French pharmacies) under her eyes, and then got to work on her makeup.

Perfect The Art Of Day-To-Night Makeup

According to Payne, the beauty look in Paris shifts once the sun sets on the Seine. “French-girl beauty is effortless during the daytime, but a bit more sophisticated in the evening. French girls always like to highlight [their] lips or eyes for a party — rarely both at the same time!” says Payne.

With that in mind, Payne kept Emily’s skin fresh and natural for day by mixing Dr. Barbara Sturm Glow Drops with Chanel Foundation Vital Lumière Aqua as her base. She tapped a tawny shade of Tom Ford cream blush from the apples of her cheeks to her eyelids and finished with a few swipes of Dior Pump Up The Volume Mascara.

While Emily is most frequently seen wearing rosy-nude lips (a winning combo of Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk and MAC Velvet Teddy Lipstick), Payne says that her secret to a flawless red evening lip is as much about the colour (she used Pat McGrath Matte Trance Lipstick in Obsessed) as it is the prep. “I applied a lip patch by Collagena before the lipstick to hydrate the lips,” says Payne.

Don’t Overthink Your Hair Accessories

Emily’s trip to the ballet at the Palais Garnier is a “magic moment” that Desir says was a direct wink to Audrey Hepburn’s iconic role. But what made the twinkly updo even more chic was the idea that Emily plucked a piece out of her jewellery box as a finishing touch. “We used a necklace as an accessory to sublime the updo,” says Desir, adding that the placement around the crown was key. “[It created] a pure line of highlight.”

Brow Highlighting Makes A Big Difference

Another major hint to Hepburn? Emily’s bold, square-shaped brows. While the actress brought her naturally bushy brows to set, Payne exaggerated their manicured shape by highlighting them with Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer in a shade lighter than her natural skin tone. Then, she brushed them up with Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel, and kept a spare in her kit to “fix Lily’s brows all day long.”

At the end of the day, Payne and Desir hope viewers expand their idea of “French-girl” beauty beyond one specific look, and instead focus on the confidence that truly sets Parisian women apart. “I hope that every girl watches Emily in Paris and identifies with Lily to know that everything is possible in life,” Payne says. “As you grow your confidence in your ability and your skills, you grow your confidence in your own natural beauty — inside and outside.”

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