The Parisian fashion house Gerard Darel designs chic ready-to-wear pieces for the modern woman. And by 'modern woman' we also mean the likes of Halle Berry, Katherine Heigl and Jessica Alba, who have all been seen toting the brand's It bags. Plus Angelina Jolie, who's a big fan of their boho maxi dresses.
But if you're looking for an example of the quintessential Gerard Darel woman, then look no further than model and actress Elisa Sednaoui, who the label have picked to be the star of their Autumn Winter 2012 campaign.
"I have a taste for encounters and new experiences," says the 24 year-old of French and Italian descent. Which comes as no surprise for a woman who grew up between Savigliano, Luxor, Paris and Cairo, and is fluent in several languages - English, Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic, in case you were wondering! Now, that's what we call cosmopolitan.
Elisa's also got some serious fashion credentials - from getting photographed by Beigbeder and Lagerfeld to gracing the catwalks of London, Paris, New York and Milan - not to mention a budding film career. So what has the international globe-trotter got say about her jet-setting lifestyle? Grazia Daily found out:
Grazia: They say that Sagittarius—which you are—have a taste for discovery and travel. Is this true of you?
Elisa: Yes, I think I am a modern nomad. I grew up in Luxor, Egypt, then in the Italian Piedmont, where I return often. I now live in New York, but recently, I have been filming a lot of movies between London, Paris, Spain, etc. As for working as a supermodel, it brings me to the greatest capitals in the world. I have a taste for encounters and new experiences: those things are what set our life into motion.
Grazia: Do you have a specific encounter in mind?
Elisa: All encounters are important. Not only close friendships. A single word from a person I will never see again can open a door in my mind. Film is also a source of discoveries, about other people and about myself. Acting introduces me to compassion each time a bit more.
Grazia: Has film made you more tolerant?
Elisa: Without a doubt. When I embody characters who are very distant from me, I start to understand better the reasons behind such and such behaviour which does not come naturally to me.
Grazia: What is your view of fashion?
Elisa: In the past few years, the idea of simplicity has become very important to me: whether we're talking about daily life, film, or, of course, fashion. That is why I so adore the elegance of Parisian women that Gerard Darel embodies so powerfully. Compared to what you see in New York, London or Milan, in France there is a great attachment to the quality of materials and a sobriety I find touching.
Grazia: Why is simplicity so important to you?
Elisa: Contrary to what they want us to think, the truth is that the less you do, the more you glow. That is why I am increasingly won over by simple pieces—jeans in all their variety enchant me. Which doesn't mean I am against sophistication! The basics allow me to twist my look, depending on my mood. And when fashion resonates with our daily mindset, it becomes truly vibrant.
Grazia: Do you like Paris?
Elisa: A lot. It is a spectacular city. Driving through it in a car is enough to fill up on beautiful images: I think of the sky over the Seine—sombre and serious in winter, or striped with pinkish-orange reflections on spring evenings. And then in each neighborhood—Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Marais, République—you feel like you're in a different city. So, of course, I love the cosmopolitan feel of London and New York, but the charm of Paris comes from the fact that it is still largely inhabited by Parisians: Paris has remained a city of the people. It is a city full of memory, poetry, and secrets. My stays in Paris are always very inspiring.
Grazia: You have just made your first film. What is it about?
Elisa: It is a documentary about the peasant farmers of Luxor, which I made with one of my girlfriends. After the January 25, 2012 revolution, it seemed useful to show the face of Egypt as I perceive it: the powerful relationship to nature, spirituality, and above all, time. There is a precious taste for slowness there.
Grazia: We're a million miles away from the world of fashion or film, which are completely harried, no?
Elisa: That's a fact. While I gravitate toward those rather unbalanced worlds, I draw my balance from the memory of that slowness. That said, my family ties and friendships are also an essential force for me. Today, my closest girlfriends are those I met in secondary school in Italy. When you start a career as a supermodel, it is, I think, a mistake to cut off your previous life. You start to meet people who confuse what you are with your image. It can make you crazy.
Grazia: You give the impression of belonging to a generation of very emancipated girls...
Elisa: Girls today have much more freedom. Not only can we choose to become accomplished in the fields of our choice, but above all, unlike previous generations, we no longer feel obligated to give up our womanliness. Now, the temptation to pigeonhole ourselves remains strong. There are always people who want to tell us what we are. But there is only me myself, through my path, who will show who I am.
Grazia: Do you have personal heroines who inspire you, though?
Elisa: Absolutely. Lauren Bacall—her biography inspired me. And Monica Vitti. First and foremost because their elegance is deeply linked to their sense of humor. If life is hard for everyone, from my childhood I learned from my mother how to step back, how to laugh at the tragic situations we are confronted with at one time or another. The day you start taking yourself seriously is the beginning of the end.
by Stephanie Soh