Lou Doillon on Her Tribute to the Women of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine

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Photography by Senta Simond, Styling by Nell Kalonji

As Paris fashion week starts in earnest, the artist and musician reflects on her predecessors – the women who have powered France’s revolutions

“Thanks to my left-wing father I am very into the French Revolution and La Commune. Both revolutions were powered by women because, at the time, the men were at war. It was the women who kept their kids and fathers alive. And it was the women of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine – meaning the suburb of Saint-Antoine, just outside Paris – who asked the king for bread during the revolution. It gave me goosebumps to think of those very, very pissed-off women. And so, when I was 19 and pregnant and needing some courage, I found a tiny house on the Faubourg Saint-Antoine and I thought, ‘This is it. I will become une femme du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, this is what’s going to carry me.’ So I moved in by myself with my big tummy. Paris, if you know how to read it, is really like a book. I always told my son that he would know the political tendency of an area in the city by looking at the street names and the people they’re named after – whether the revolutionaries of the Bastille or the slaughterers of the boulevards.”

Poetry pulses through Lou Doillon’s work. She is, when we speak, in the “last chapter” of creating her upcoming album. Due out this winter and succeeding albums Places and Lay Low – it’s edged with a newfound stubborness. For the daughter of actress Jane Birkin and director Jacques Doillon – “movies were what my family did” – acting was a natural path. But lyricism has powered her work. She has toured performances of Intimate Letters – correspondence written by Napoleon and Edith Piaf, among others – and Samuel Beckett’s The Image, accompanied by choreographer Damien Jalet. But it wasn’t until she was 25 that she picked up an instrument – in the midst of a depression – and began singing for her similarly melancholic girlfriends: “I became this kind of kitchen troubadour for a gang of girls.”

Hair: Pawel Solis at Artlist Paris using Oribe. Make-up: Adrien Pinault at Management Artists using MAC. Photographic assistant: Charlotte Krieger. Styling assistants: Rebecca Perlmutar, Camila Paiva and Georgina Craig. Make-up assistant: Marie Tritsch

This story originally featured in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale internationally now.