Gemma Chan can now add runway model to her already impressive resumé. On October 2nd, the Don't Worry, Darling actress wore a black, asymmetrical Louis Vuitton suit as she walked down an elevated catwalk situated in the middle of the École Militaire, a national monument in the heart of Paris, the Eiffel Tower twinkling behind her. And while her debut took place during the middle of Paris Fashion Week, it wasn't at a typical fashion show — this was the fifth edition of L'Oréal Paris' "Le Défilé," an annual event that celebrates inspiring women who emulate the brand's iconic tagline "Because You're Worth It."
This year's show's message was: "Walk Your Worth", and each person who strutted the stage embodied the spirit of unapologetically showing up and walking with confidence. In addition to Gemma Chan, the show's models included other L'Oréal spokeswomen like Eva Longoria, Andie MacDowell, Camille Razat, Aja Naomi King, and Soo Joo Park. They each wore different beauty looks, crafted by global makeup director Val Garland and hair stylist Stéphane Lancien. Some modeled a gorgeous true red lip (the brand's new, limited edition Colour Riche Lipstick called "Red My Lips") in support of the brand's global cause initiative, Stand Up Against Street Harassment. One hundred percent of the proceeds from each lipstick will help train more people in how to intervene in situations of street harassment.
Refinery29 had a chance to speak with Gemma Chan before she hit the runway for the big show. Below, Chan shares the beauty lessons she learned early on from her mom, the facial gadgets she swears by and the one iconic woman who she has always looked up to (and continues to today).
Refinery29: How are you feeling about today? Have you walked the Défilé before?
Gemma Chan: This is my first time doing the Défilé. I'm very excited to be in Paris, very excited to see my fellow L'Oréal spokeswomen and just very excited to soak up the atmosphere. This location is incredible.
R29: Can you give us a tease about what you're wearing tonight?
GC: I chose tailoring — it is a beautiful black suit by Louis Vuitton.
R29: What does it mean to be a part of the L'Oréal Paris family? I'm sure you received many offers to partner with beauty brands — why L'Oréal?
GC: I'm so proud to partner with L'Oréal Paris because they're a brand that supports women all around the world. They've led the way in terms of being representative of women and they're incredibly supportive. I'm in such brilliant company with these incredible women.
R29: Have you always been a beauty girl your entire life?
GC: My mum was quite good at instilling a good routine when I was young — cleanse, tone, and moisturize. Making sure you do that wherever you are and whatever time it might be. So I've tried to stick with that, with varying degrees of success. I was quite tomboy-ish when I was younger and I did loads of sports. But I do remember also going into my mom's room and it would be like, a cloud of Elnett I would walk into. I remember experimenting with her lipsticks. I made some major beauty mistakes, especially when experimenting as a teenager.
R29: You travel nonstop. How do you maintain your beauty routine while on the road?
GC: I think the key is to stay hydrated. When I'm on a flight, I try to cleanse my skin, use a serum and make sure that I'm quite consistent with that. I found that after traveling, lymphatic drainage massages are good.
R29: I've read in previous interviews that you love skin-care gadgets, like the Charlotte Tilbury Cryo Mask. What other treatments or devices do you like to use?
GC: I have my gadgets that I like. Anything that you can put in the fridge is good. A face roller, an eye cream in there... I love those kind of cooling face masks because it helps with the puffiness and feels nice.
R29: You've had the chance to get your makeup done by so many amazing artists. Have you learned any tips or tricks from them?
GC: I think what they are really good at is understanding that you need to know what time of day it is and what the lighting is going to be like, because it can completely change, so you need to gear your whole beauty look towards that. Using different shades of face powder so it's not so flat. That's something I don't do myself, but I should!
R29: You have become an icon in so many ways, especially for young Asian women. Did you have anyone you looked up to growing up who looked like you?
GC: Michelle Yeoh. She still is that inspiring, iconic woman. She's so talented. She's been doing this for such a long time, she's been leading the way and she's just a lovely person. She's amazing. She's just so kind and genuine.
R29: Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, after playing the role of Astrid, did you take any of her fabulousness with you into your day-to-day life?
GC: I would love to say I've tried to channel her sometimes, again with varying degrees of success. I think my real life is way more chaotic and when it comes to my fashion and day-to-day style, it's much more low-key and not as put-together as Astrid at all.
R29: Being this icon, a L'Oréal spokesperson, you have a lot of power and influence. Is there anything you haven't done that you'd like to do — a cause you want to get involved with?
GC: I'm really proud that I get to work with Unicef. I'm an ambassador and they do such incredible work around the world. I would love to do more work in the area of education. I'm very passionate about particularly girls education. An educated girl can lift her family, lift her community, change the world, and it always comes back to that for me.
R29: Last question — what's your current skin-care routine?
R29: How about beauty? You've got great brows.
GC: It's taken a while for them to grow back fully. I just use a little powder to fill them in and a little bit of brow gel. True Match foundation is great, it has great pigment and hyaluronic acid to keep your skin feeling plump.
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