with her blinding beauty, marine vacth is holding the world’s gaze
We meet France's new cinema icon.
marine wears Waistcoat Dsquared2.
Marine Vacth doesn't play by the rules. Not that she particularly wants to break them, she just doesn't conform. With the guardedness of a truly shy person, she is perfectly polite, but maintains an untouchable, unreadable quality that's frustrating and absolutely alluring in equal measure. Perhaps because success and fame were never on her agenda: "I happened to be in a fashion store in Paris when I was 15 and an agent at Marilyn Agency asked me if I would be interested in modeling." Marine went on to model for Paolo Roversi, Juergen Teller and Steven Meisel, and landed a few campaigns (Miu Miu, Chloé, Yves Saint Laurent perfume) before embarking on her acting career in France. When you grow up facing a camera, she says, "You need to keep your eyes wide open." Like a wildcat, Marine is free but cautious, and you can't force her into anything. If she wants to be there, she will be there, listening to her own voice, moving to her own rhythm.
Glassy green-grey eyes, suave voice, messy hair and casual jeans: France just delivered its new fantasy actress. And the more time she spends under the spotlight - she is now 24 - the less she speaks, the less she seems to care. Hundreds of how-to books - often sold on the other side of the Atlantic - try to uncover French women's secret. It's in silence and self-reliance, the ultimate weapons of power. In France, playing hard to get is not only a seduction trick, it is a way of life.
For decades now, French actresses have been our best ambassadors. Think about the whispering Catherine Deneuve in Helmut Newton's Chanel ads from the seventies, the nude yet super sophisticated Charlotte Gainsbourg for Nicolas Ghesquière's Balenciaga or, more recently, the two stunning actresses of Blue is The Warmest Color, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, erotically slouched in a Miu Miu campaign. As glossy as these images are, they convey the same message: "I happened to be here." Bad news for all the how-to publishers of the world: 'effortless' means no effort! There's nothing you can do about it, either you have it or you don't. No prizes for guessing which side Marine lives on.
Two years ago at Cannes, the world laid eyes upon this incredibly beautiful girl. It only took a 90-minute movie to turn her into a superstar. Jeune et Jolie — literally Young and Beautiful — tells the story of Isabelle, a teenager who lives a double life as a prostitute. Without any social or psychological commentary, the movie, directed by François Ozon, dispassionately depicts the routine of a girl who trades sex for cash, even though she does not need money (her parents are wealthy), is talented at school (the best in her class) and has hundreds of boys dreaming to be loved by her (or merely noticed). An unreadable girl, Isabelle speaks little and — how politically incorrect — does not seem tortured.
The Belle de Jour of the 2010s, Jeune et Jolie came out to great commotion. Some were scandalized while others praised this "feminist movie"; Marine remained unfazed. "[Isabelle] has had experiences that mean she has to do what she does," she told i-D at the time of the release. Like her character, Marine does not judge, and when she seems to act without emotion, she's really just protecting her intimacy - always perceptible, but never reachable. "It's about finding out what she likes and what she doesn't like — and to have a secret life, something she keeps just for herself," she explains.
After the sulphurous release of Jeune et Jolie, Marine disappeared for almost two years. "The hype around the movie was huge, and its promotion long and intense. And then I got pregnant. That's the main reason I stepped back." She came back for Steven Meisel's Miu Miu spring/summer 15 campaign, alongside Mia Goth and Imogen Poots. The campaign champions that troubling stage of teenagehood, when girls learn how to become women, discover the power of their sexuality, and provoke. Indeed, the campaign did provoke, to the extent that the image with Mia Goth was deemed "irresponsible" and banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, after a single complaint, that "the ad can give the impression that it presents a child in a sexualised way". Like Marine, Mia was not a child. She was 22 and had already appeared on a cover poster of Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac, topless and orgasming. Nobody complained. People are always tougher when it comes to fashion - maybe because of its intrinsic trading nature.
Marine will star in a French comedy this fall, Belles Familles, directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, showing the world she does not belong in the box people would like to put her in. Like many great French actresses before her, who spent their lives making up their own rules, even if it meant not always pleasing their audience, Marine is doing things her way. "There is one wild talent like Marine per generation. There was Brigitte Bardot, Emmanuelle Béart, Béatrice Dalle or Sandrine Bonnaire," said Philippe Azoury, a renowned French film critic. Put simply, she's got it.
Text Tess Lochanski
Photography Angelo Pennetta
Styling Ondine Azoulay
Hair Cyndia Harvey at Streeters using Bumble and bumble
Make-up Adrien Pinault at Management + Artists using MAC
Photography assistance Jack Day, Alex Hertoghe
Styling assistance Hisato Tasaka
Make-up assistance Laura Casado Arino
On-set production Thomas Chapuis