Society

Why Beauty Alone No Longer Cuts It For The Faces Of Fashion's Elite

Top French brands L’Oréal and Christian Dior are leading the hunt for fashion "ambassadors" who have a story, and substance, behind the pretty face.

Jane Fonda with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë (Olivier Pacteau)
Jane Fonda with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë (Olivier Pacteau)
Véronique Lorelle

CANNES -"They're signed Lanvin heels," reveals Aimee Mullins, looking tenderly at her artificial feet, which she slips into the shiny black shoes. "I'm crazy about shoes -- I have a hundred pairs. They go with my 15 different sets of prosthetic legs, among which one made of sculpted wood."

The beautiful 34-year-old American was born without a fibula, but became an actress and an extraordinary athlete nevertheless (semi-finalist at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta). She took on a new role at the just completed Cannes film festival: ambassador of L'Oréal Paris, the world leader in beauty products.

Over are the airhead models with perfect bodies, the armada of young Caucasian beauties. Now is the time for women of well-developed character. This year, the Christian Dior house was seduced by Natalie Portman, an actress with a B.A. from Harvard, who became the Muse of Miss Dior Chérie. Gérard Darel has turned to an elegant, spirited 45-year-old woman: Robin Wright Penn.

But it's L'Oréal that has ventured the furthest away from the well-traveled roads of stereotypical beauty. In addition to Aimee Mullins, the French company has surrounded itself by Jane Fonda, a gorgeous septuagenarian, Leïli Bekhti, an Algerian actress who has undergone a cesarean section, and the rousing Inès de la Fressange, who is in her 50s. These are celebrities with "multiple beauties," who are able to attract as many women as possible.

"Beauty is not limited to the perfection of physical features and measurements," says Cyril Chapuy, general director of L'Oréal Paris. "Aimee Mullins, whom I had discovered in the United States, touched me by her determination, confidence, and sense of humor. Our ambassadors personify, by their charisma, that which is the DNA of L'Oréal, summarized by our 40 year old slogan: ‘Because I'm worth it.""

The way companies are viewing beauty has changed. In 1999, the appearance of the "handicapped model" Mullins at one of Alexander McQueen's fashion shows in Paris had triggered some sympathetic remarks. "I wanted to show another side to beauty," McQueen had attempted to explain at the time.

"He was way ahead of everyone else," Mullins says today. "I think that my place was there. What I am today, I deserve it. If I am an example, it's that of a person who has the power to overcome a hard reality through imagination: each human being has the right to invent his or her life, and to reinvent himself or herself to take on the tyranny of nature," the doctoral candidate affirms. In the meantime, she has slipped on her longest set of prosthetic legs, which gives her the look of a Barbie collectible.

The good news is that beauty comes, in part, from the inside. Unfortunately, these new ambassadors of beauty raise the bar so high that only a Wonder Woman can reach it. Inès de la Fressange, the ex-ambassador to Chanel, mother and current ambassador of the luxury shoemaker Roger Vivier, confirms this tendency: "I did a lot of things in my life, but it's necessary to do so in order to become a real person!"

As for Jane Fonda, she offers the ultimate lesson: "I worked for a long time in order to reach the point where I could say, ‘I'm happy." When I turned 60, I gave myself this challenge: to show that a woman can be old, but feel good about herself, with a strong mind, and in good health. To be the image of beauty today is a crowning achievement," says the American actress in nearly perfect French.

Aren't these exceptional women utterly out of reach? "I need ambassadors who make people dream, and who are credible," Cyril Chapuy says. "Our profession, which deals with bodily health, with aging of the skin, with make-up, and thus with seduction, is a little deeper than fashion. Our clients are looking for something more than eye powder."

Frank Hocquemiller, General Director of VIP Consulting, an agency that advises others in choosing celebrity talent, says the strategy is quite clever. "At one point, the icons all looked alike, smooth-skinned from computer-image retouching. It was time that more place be given to natural beauty," he says. "These women have a great aura and carry hope, which triggers a process of identification and gives consumers the desire to buy."

Read the original article in French

Photo - Olivier Pacteau

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Art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 你好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where violence erupts after Sudan's military coup, Australia finally gets onboard with climate change goals, and Harrison Ford stars in Raiders of the Lost Credit Card. From Bogota, we also see what the capture of drug kingpin Otoniel means for Colombia, a country long stained by cocaine trafficking.

[*Nĭhǎo - Mandarin Chinese]

💡  SPOTLIGHT

Saving the planet is really a question of dopamine

The elite of the ecologically minded are set to descend on Glasgow next week for the Cop 26 conference on climate change. But beyond debating policy prescriptions, French daily Les Echos explores the role our own brains have on making the right choices for the planet:

Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the "pleasure hormone."

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Stefano Lupieri / Les Echos

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Sudan in chaos following military coup: After Sudan's military seized power from the transitional government, defiant anti-coup protesters have returned to the streets of the capital city Khartoum, for a second consecutive day. At least seven people have been killed and 140 injured. Coup leader General Al-Burhan has announced a state of emergency across the country, while the military cut off access to the internet and closed roads, bridges, and Khartoum's airport. Washington condemned the coup and suspended aid, and the U.N. Security Council was expected to discuss Sudan behind closed doors later today.

• Egypt lifts state of emergency in force since 2017: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, announced the end of a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, make arrests, search people's homes without warrants, and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country.

• Platforms take down Bolsonaro video linking vaccine and AIDS: Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have removed an anti-vaccine video from their respective platforms posted by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Beyond blocking the video, in which Bolsonaro falsely linked the COVID-19 vaccine with developing AIDS, YouTube went further and suspended the far-right leader for a week.

• COVID update: The U.S. will launch a new travel system on November 8, imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions over China, India and much of Europe. Meanwhile, authorities in northern China are reimposing lockdown, and other emergency measures as COVID-19 infections spread to 11 provinces.

• Australia pledges net zero emissions by 2050: As one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases per capita and a major exporter of fossil fuels such as coal, Australia has finally committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. This is a target already adopted by most nations heading to next week's COP26 international climate conference, but that Australia had so far refused to pledge.

• Japanese princess loses royal status over wedding: Japan's Princess Mako married her boyfriend Kei Komuro, giving up her royal status. Under Japanese law, female imperial family members lose their status upon marriage to a "commoner" although male members do not.

Raiders of the Lost Credit Card: A tourist returned the credit card of American actor Harrison Ford, who had lost it in Sicily while shooting scenes for the latest Indiana Jones movie.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"Out of control," titles German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on the release of a series of articles by a consortium of 17 U.S. news outlets, called the "Facebook Papers," that reinforce whistleblower Frances Haugen's claims that the social media giant is prioritizing profits over the well being of its users and society.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

$1.01 trillion

After striking a deal to sell 100,000 electric vehicles to car rental firm Hertz, Elon Musk's Tesla has joined Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google's Alphabet in the club of companies that have reached a $1 trillion valuation.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

What the capture of a drug kingpin means for Colombia

While the capture of Otoniel, Colombia's most wanted drug trafficker, made global headlines, Bogotá daily El Espectador writes about the significance of the news for a country that has battled narcotrafficking for decades.

👮 The arrest of the Colombian mobster Dairo Antonio Úsuga David, a.k.a. "Otoniel," is a victory for Colombian intelligence, law-and-order forces and the broader fight against crime. Details of the eight-year-long pursuit of the head of the Gulf Clan, of the tireless and meticulous work, testify to the capabilities that the police and army have managed to develop in the fight against the narco-trafficking that has long been a stain on Colombia.

🇨🇴🇲🇽 Otoniel is responsible for a criminal organization with more than 3,800 members and influence on 12 departments and 128 districts in Colombia (though data from the Bogotá-based Peace and Reconciliation Foundation counts 211 districts). The Gulf Clan sends half the drugs going out of Colombia, and is the main exporter to Mexico. Its ties to the Mexican cartel chief Joaquín "el Chapo" Guzmán are well-documented — and Otoniel had aspired to fill the power vacuum left by Guzmán's capture.

⚖️ Some have observed that the ensuing power vacuum will engender more violence, which is true. But we are, in any case, far from eliminating drug trafficking in Colombia or cutting its tentacles across public life. That shows the limitations of the hard-line response to drugs, when we have seen it is not enough. Still, it is essential in any fight against crime for the state to show its operational capabilities. The message is clear: not even drug overlords are above the law in Colombia.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I love Mako. I would like to spend my one life with the person I love."

— Kei Komuro said during a news conference after his wedding with Japan's Princess Mako, the niece of the current emperor and the sister of the likely future sovereign. The princess lost her royal status as a result of her marriage with Komuro, a "commoner."

📸  PHOTO DU JOUR

An art installation "Greetings From Giza" by French artist and photographer JR faces the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, as part of the 2021 exhibition "'Forever Is Now," the first international art exhibition to take place there — Photo: Balkis Press/Abaca/ZUMA

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Send all commoner and royal well wishes to Mako and Kei — and let us know what the news looks like from your corner of the world! info@worldcrunch.com

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