There are few celebrities who truly emulate ethereal beauty on the red carpet but Vanessa Paradis is indisputably one of them. It requires a lightness of touch and an intangible sense of self: the kind of beauty that isn't fussed about what’s hot and what’s not. It’s indifferent to the paparazzi bulbs. It glows.
In a lot of ways, Vanessa Paradis doesn’t care what we think and that’s what makes her style so effortless. The chink between her two front teeth says it all. This is me, it twinkles: my imperfections make me beautiful. Suffice to say we could all learn a thing or two from this classic French chanteuse - including her celebrity counterparts.
There's freedom in accepting who you are - and it looks beautiful. In 2008, Paradis revealed to The Observer: ‘I love clothes but I have spent so much of my professional life creating an image of one kind or another that it is nice not to care about it in life and let your skin breathe.' From her tousled hair to her frequent bold brush of red lip, even Paradis’ red carpet style lets her skin breathe. It's why the French star has continued to inspire legions of fans well into her forties.
We were first introduced Vanessa Chantal Paradis in the late 1980s. Watching the sultry singer in 1987 singing 'Joe Le Taxi' in a white cropped top, jeans and swept-back hair, it's easy to forget this is a 14-year-old girl. There is a toughness and vulnerability to Paradis that defines the actress and singer and beguiles the camera. Perhaps this is why Paradis is now as synonymous with the faultless fashion house of Chanel as Karl Lagerfeld himself.
French composer Serge Gainsbourg would liken Paradis' sex appeal to Brigitte Bardot when he worked on her album Variations sur le même t'aime in 1990. In our eyes, however, she's always exuded Marianne Faithful's quirky complexities. There is a quiet charm to Paradis that never demands our attention. Perhaps that's why we're so enraptured by her.
In 1991, a Paradis promoted advertisement for fragrance Coco for Chanel captivated us completely. A raven girl pendulum-swings inside a bird cage. Her plume of black feathers explodes from her leotard like some kind of frenetic Belle Epoque bustle. It's a Ziegfeld folly for the 20th century that marked the beginning of an era: Paradis and Chanel have been inseparable ever since. They even crowned her their spokesmodel and throughout her many years modelling for the label, she's helped re-define it.
Paradis' gamine, Art Deco style is always a hit on the red carpet. During her decade-long relationship with Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Depp, Chanel's muse often gravitated towards 1920s drop-waist, beaded flapper dresses - a style which perfectly suits her petite frame. Away from the cameras, she regularly reminds us of fellow French resident Jane Birkin in her off-duty look of faded jeans, blazers and neckties.
As Karl Lagerfeld told the Telegraph in 2011: 'The key thing about Vanessa is not what she does but how she does it.' We couldn't have put it better ourselves, Karl...