Secrets of the Stylish: Attending Paris Fashion Week with Gemma Chan
admin - Nov 2, 2023 Interviews

Gemma Chan has only one style rule: never run in heels. “Especially if it’s raining!” she says, with a laugh. She’s talking to me from her hotel room in Paris, where she’s just attended the Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2024 show, and is recounting one of her most memorable fashion week moments, which involves a sprained ankle and multiple tequila shots (read on below for the full tale). “It was both the best night and the worst night.”

Aside from that, the actress doesn’t subscribe to any strict style mantras. “I think you can feel confident in almost anything,” she tells me. “I don’t feel that there are any hard and fast rules, to be honest. Just wear what you like.” She does, however, have a preference for comfort above all else – “it’s underrated” – and when it comes to beauty, her emphasis lies more in the ritual of self-care. “I have to say, my everyday style is quite low key, just because I have so many elaborate looks in my work,” she says. “It’s nice to nice to have time off and just have days where you’re just really comfortable: sweatpants, hair in a scrunchie, no make-up.”

Below, we go behind-the-scenes with the actress as she prepares to attend the Louis Vuitton show in Paris.

Talk us through your show look – what drew you to it?

“I was really drawn to this look; it’s quite bold. It’s a pleated dress that comes over the shoulders and has almost like a draped, cape situation going on. There’s a latex cream panel at the front and then the rest of it is green drapery. It’s hard to describe! It’s really unusual; I just knew that I really liked it. It’s not often you get to wear something like this and I think it’s appropriate for a fashion show to be quite bold.”

What makes Louis Vuitton a good fit for you?

“First of all, I really respect and admire Nicolas [Ghesquière] and his work and his vision – he’s always doing something that is unexpected. He’s inspired by so many different things for his collections, whether that’s art or architecture. It’s always interesting; Louis Vuitton often has an almost retro-futuristic vibe to some of the collections. They also make some beautiful custom gowns for red carpets, then some really classic coats and amazing accessories. They basically have everything covered.”

What’s your favourite thing about attending fashion week?

“My favourite thing is getting to see lots of people that I haven’t seen for quite a few months. We can all meet up at this time of year and it’s always a good atmosphere. It’s great to be reunited with the other Louis Vuitton ambassadors as well. Just getting to be here – it’s always a buzzy atmosphere.”

What’s been your favourite moment from fashion week over the years?

“I’m not sure if it’s my favourite memory but it’s definitely my most memorable moment. I attended the Louis Vuitton show back in October 2021. I fell down the stairs on the way to the show because it had started raining and I really badly sprained my ankle – and was just trying not to cry! It was an amazing collection but I was in agony and really worried about my ankle. But then I decided to go to the after-party… I downed a few tequilas and danced on my bad ankle, which was a really stupid idea. It was both the worst night and the best night. I had to have a wheelchair to help me on the Eurostar on my way home – it was that bad – and I had a press tour starting a couple of weeks later, so, yes, it was a very silly thing to do. I now never run in heels – especially if it’s been raining! It was a brilliant party though.”

What kind of fashion makes you feel most confident?

“I think it really depends on the occasion and the context. Day to day, I really appreciate comfort and ease. Because I dress up so much for for work, I really just want to feel comfortable. I think it’s underrated. But I think you can feel confident in almost anything – I don’t feel that there are any hard and fast rules, to be honest. Just wear what you like; if you like it and you feel comfortable and confident in it, then that’s the main thing – whether you’re lounging around at home or on a red carpet.

“Oh, and [I try] not to be a slave to trends, either. It’s chic to rewear! Especially in terms of sustainability, that’s something we should be much more mindful of; investing in pieces that will last. Buy less, but buy well.”

How has your relationship with beauty and your appearance changed over the years?

“It’s definitely evolved. I think, when I was younger, beauty and make-up were all about… well, the main aim was to try and look older, so that you could get into the pub or the bar! It was about covering things up, whereas I feel now, certainly, beauty to me is much more about the ritual of self care and taking good care of your skin. I also enjoy getting to be creative and creating some dramatic looks – whether it’s for my work or for the red carpet. It’s really about having fun.”

Do you see beauty as way to be creative and express yourself?

“Yes absolutely, very much so. It’s a crucial part of my my day job; it’s part of the formation of a character. Part of it’s the costume, but a lot of it is down to the hair and make-up as well – it’s part of building and expressing who this character is, where they’re from, how they see the world and how they want to present themselves in the world. I think that’s true whether you’re playing a character or being yourself. Although I have to say, my everyday style is quite low key, just because I have so many elaborate looks in my work. It’s nice to have time off and just have days where you’re just really comfortable: sweatpants, hair in a scrunchie, no make-up.”

How do you take care of your skin before a big event like fashion week?

“Just the usual really: looking after myself, getting plenty of sleep, eating well and drinking lots of water. But when you’re travelling you can get a bit puffy, so I like to get a lymphatic drainage massage if I can. Also, sticking your head in a bucket of ice! That’s a tried and tested method.”

What’s your most-used beauty product?

“Oh that’s a tough one. I’m going to say Dots for Spots – I use them whenever I get a breakout and they’re brilliant. Also they’re translucent so I’ve worn them out of the house before.”

When do you feel most beautiful?

“I suppose when I’m with friends and family and the people I love. That’s a bit of a cheesy answer, but it’s true.” [Source]

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