In his book, Making Movies, Sidney Lumet formulates a truth that I myself have been thinking for a long time. He says: “The word ‘actress’ or ‘authoress’ always struck me as condescending. A doctor’s a doctor, right? So I’ve always referred to actors and writers, regardless of their sex.” I agree.
I immediately thought of Isabelle Huppert as being the proper example to substantiate Lumet’s statement. I have talked about Isabelle’s films time and again here on the blog. A complete actor. A fearless talent. Always reinventing herself. Her presence on the screen is arresting. You can not escape her intensity, be that her edgy grace, her sharp glare or her moral complexity. The more you watch her, the more of an enigma she becomes. You can not look away. She was recently named actress of the year at the Critics’ Circle Film Awards for L’Avenir (Things to Come) and it pleased me that she was recognised for that performance from 2016, too, in addition to the one in Elle. She was even more commanding in her understated, note-perfect, warm performance in Mia Hansen-Løve’s movie. This is a subtle, intimate, graceful film, that left me with a smile on my face. Huppert said the award “cast a light on a film that speaks honestly about a woman’s life in a realistic way – not fantasy, just how it is”. As someone who has always disapproved of the favouring of conspicuous or physical demanding roles over subtle performances, I have the utmost appreciation for this kind of roles.
That said, today I wanted to make it about Isabelle’s personal style, starting with the fact that Huppert is very private and very little is known about her. She generally does not talk to the press about anything other than her films. It’s something I value deeply. Let your work speak for yourself to the outer world.
Then, I just have to mention this awards season during which her grace, patrician beauty and discrete elegance shined on the red carpet (because, damn it, we all know we pay attention to the red carpet, too, so let’s just leave the fake feminist advocacy out), starting with as far back as the emerald green Chloé ensemble at Cannes, to the powder blue Armani Privé gown and the avante-grade Repossi ear cuff at the Golden Globes, and the bespoke Chloé dress at the recent BAFTAs. She was not nominated to the British awards, surprisingly as that may be, considering the acknowledgements and wins at all the other important awards, but her presence was a class above all the nominees and presenters.
Isabelle is no stranger to fashion, as she is a front-row regular at the shows, mainly Chanel (she even modelled for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Couture A/W 2015 show, as you can see in the photo above), Armani, Givenchy and Nicolas Ghesquière (the designer is well known for his often-rooted-in-film inspiration). Designers love her, too. She is their reliably chic muse. Not only does her career continue to thrive after more than four decades, but Isabelle Huppert demonstrates how one can age gloriously. And I think her enduring allure stems just as much from an innate, irreverent sense of style as from a strong sense of self. Like with her films, she does not try to seduce you, but she does, by completely being herself.
photos: Emanuele Scorcelletti for Madame Le Figaro / Elise Toïdé for Crash magazine (Isabelle at the Chanel Haute Couture A/W 2015 show / Frank Perrin for Crash magazine