Just looking at the Courtin-Clarins girls makes you want to hate them — they're charismatic, gorgeous, wealthy, intelligent, chic, successful, and seem to have the world (or, at least, the fashion world) wrapped around their manicured fingers. But in addition to being absolutely stunning and fabulous, these heiress It Girls are also remarkably likable, sweet, and savvy, as we found out after one enlightening interview session.
The granddaughters of Clarins founder, Jacques Courtin-Clarins, Virginie, Claire, Jenna, and Prisca spent their childhood immersed in the beauty world and, later, fashion. As our photographer aptly phrased it after listening to the girls describe their idyllic childhood, "they were born into girl heaven."
Now, that the girls have matured, they've taken an active role in the company, promoting the brand at events like Sephora's Fashion's Night Out extravaganza and even helping to spearhead a new online initiative, Clarins' just-launched Beauty Flash Blog, where the girls star in how-to and behind-the-scenes videos, along with some of their big-name friends in the industry.
We tagged along with Virginie, Jenna, and Prisca (Claire was still in Paris) as they prepped for their FNO appearance to talk about what it was like growing up a part of France's most famous beauty family, their take on fashion, and some of the unexpected pitfalls of being their grandfather's product guinea pigs. (Hint: It involves cellulite cream.)
Photographed by Bek Andersen
You ladies have suddenly become very prominent and outspoken for the brand. How did that come about?
Virginie (pictured left):
"Compared to Europe, where Clarins has a very different position, we felt that in the U.S., maybe we could help to give a younger look to the brand, because you know in the U.S., you have so many new brands all the time; everything is happening, and in France ,we stick more to the brands that we’re used to. So, we felt that it was an opportunity that now that we are adults, but still young, we could give the brand a new look — a fresh look and develop the It Kit
, for example, to show what the must-haves are for people our age.
And with the new blog, we felt that it was something from our generation, and that’s something that our fathers couldn’t have done. The blog, for them, it’s something that they don’t really understand. I feel that since it is a family company, it’s important that in every generation, we bring what we can at the time. And yeah, I hope we are making a good contribution by bringing that modern, young touch to the brand."
From left, Virginie, Jenna, and Prisca pose outside of Sephora Union Square before their FNO event.
How do you describe your style?
Prisca: "I like all of the Mad Men [beauty]: very glamorous, bright lipstick. But I cannot wear dresses like this, the '50s shape, but it’s my favorite to style. I can’t wear those clothes all the time. Maybe for parties, but I cannot wear it all the time. I like a more classical shape. I’m not grand at home. I’m the opposite of my cousin Claire, who has more of a grunge style."
Virginie: "For beauty, I like when it’s natural. I never wear heavy makeup or smoky eyes, because I have big eyes already, so it looks too made-up. And I never wear lipstick, only maybe a little bit of nude. So, for me, just a little bit of mascara, and I really like to have a fresh, tan look. For my hair, I don’t do brushing, because my hair is so straight. So I only do braids, or I don’t do anything. My father, when I was a kid, he wanted me to always have braids. It was his favorite, so I’ve kept this obsession with loving braids. So, whenever I find someone that knows how to do braiding, I tell them, 'Okay, do whatever you want.'"
"For fashion, honestly I don’t think I fit in one specific style, because sometimes I like to be very elegant, like the French elegance, and sometimes I like to put on some very original stuff. So, that’s why we really like Mugler, because they do very edgy stuff and laser-cuts, peplum, and different fabrics. But for a big occasion, or Fashion Week, or big parties, I like to experiment."
Jenna: "Well, my hair is straight, so whatever I do, one hour later, it will be straight, so I keep it straight. And for my makeup, I like nude makeup for the day and smoky eyes for the evening. With the four-color eyeshadow palette, it’s so easy because it's described on the packaging. Since I've grown up with Clarins and the makeup, it’s like I knew when I was born how to do it. I was born with smoky eyes."
"For my style, it depends on the day. I like tight silhouettes."
Prisca: "Very short! She's more like the sexy one, non?"
Jenna: "I'm more sexy and glamorous — rock-'n'-roll sexy."
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Jenna: "I really love what Kimberly Ovitz is doing. She's very new, and I think she's amazing."
Prisca: "For me, I really love French brands. Dresses from Rodarte, Prabal Gurung..."
Jenna: "My favorite is Altuzarra. And I love Reed Krakoff. I’m wearing these shoes tonight, the orange ones. I think Altuzarra's style is very young, very unique — very chic outfits."
Virginie: "I agree also with Jenna about Reed Krakoff — it’s really a brand that we discovered here during Fashion Week one year ago, and we really fell in love with it because it’s just that classic stuff that fits perfectly, perfectly cut, and it’s a brand that’s maybe not that well known in France. I know that they’re opening a store in Paris, so it’s going to become big. But it’s a brand that we discovered during Fashion Week in New York, so we really like it."
The rack of designer dresses for the girls to choose from for the event.
The aforementioned Reed Krakoff shoes, alongside a few other footwear options.
Did you spend a lot of time at the Clarins factory growing up?
Virginie: Not when we were growing up, because when we were growing up, it’s very difficult to understand — scientists, lab coats, not playing around. So, the first time we went, it was really amazing to discover all of the research that’s behind everything. And of course, we knew it, but when you see all of those people, all of those scientists…it’s amazing."
Lots of gorgeous statement baubles to choose from.
The girls had a separate room in the hotel for the overflow of options, including purses, jewelry, shoes, and rows upon rows of dresses.
What are some of your best beauty secrets? Is there anything you're particularly good at doing yourself?
Virginie: "I’m not very good with makeup. Prisca is very good. She sometimes does my eyeliner — she’s the only one who knows how to do it really right. So, she’s the makeup artist of the family."
Prisca: "You know, sometimes, you don’t want to spend one hour doing your makeup in your bedroom, so you just put red lipstick — like really red — and nothing else, and it’s perfect."
Virginie: "And also, another beauty secret is [when applying product] on the body, to have a better blood circulation, start at the foot [and apply] in an upward motion."
All glammed up, the girls prepare to head off to Sephora.
Greeting fans and smiling for the cameras.
What are your favorite products and the one you think every girl should have?
"The Beauty Flash Balm
, which is in the It Kit. For the four of us, it’s our must-have. If I don’t have it one day, I feel like I look tired and puffy. With the name, it’s 'balm,' so it can make you think of something very heavy and sticky, but it’s actually very light. And the smell is amazing. Even if you’re wearing makeup and you want to refresh your face, you can put it on top of your makeup. You can also use it as a mask…you use a bit more, and then you can tissue off the excess."
Posing with the It Kit.
Jenna interacts with fans and shoppers.
Are there any tips or tricks you picked up from your grandfather?
Jenna: "How to apply skin-care products. You use a light tapping, pressing motion, especially around the eyes. Each summer, we have a family house in the South of France, and he would give us advice on how to apply this cream or this product."
Virginie: "When we were having breakfast, he would do the little tapping to show us at the table, and we would be like "stay, stay, stay!'
The girls sign It Kits for their fans.
Any great beauty perks from being a Clarins girl?
Prisca: "Our grandfather always brought us lab samples to try it before the production."
Virginie: "One summer, he made us try the slimming product on one leg. That's the only way to see if it works. And I can tell you, it works."