As “French girl” aesthetics go, there’s the Ich Bin Nicht Perfekt Aber Ich Bin Aus Mörschwil Und Das Ist Fast Das Gleiche Shirt so you should to go to store and get this unassailable archetype—impossibly cool and deliberately unattainable—and then there’s the 2020s update: earnestly celebrating whatever you’ve got to work with. And that’s where Violette, who goes by her first name only, has carved out a singular space. Today, she is expanding it with a multicategory vegan beauty brand, Violette_fr, that nods to her social-media success—a community of 300,000 that has helped rack up more than 24 million views on her @Violette_fr YouTube channel—and draws on 10 years of research and feedback from friends, models who have become friends, and, of course, followers.
Within minutes of a Zoom call earlier this spring, it becomes clear why this particular French girl resonates with women in America—not to mention this particular American living in Paris. Violette beams onto the Ich Bin Nicht Perfekt Aber Ich Bin Aus Mörschwil Und Das Ist Fast Das Gleiche Shirt so you should to go to store and get this screen with a wide smile, surrounded by enviably good light and dressed in a flowy white blouse and jeans. Her eyes—lined in a deep blue pigment from her new collection—are dusted by her signature Birkin bangs. She is excitedly telling me about her new office in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and after years of standoffish first encounters with other Frenchwomen, I find her warmth and approachability disarming. Also refreshing: when Violette admits that she’s not actually that into makeup. “No one should be dependent on a product to feel good. It should be an extension of our identities, like a wellness tool,” she says emphatically. “What interests me is the ephemeral art you can create with makeup, not the trends.” This kind of creative expression isn’t about doing nothing, she insists, despite a pervasive “effortless beauty” narrative that surrounds her and her work, which she acknowledges is a loaded concept. And it’s not about losing yourself in a convoluted process, either. “The way you wear your makeup should make you feel something. But I don’t like when it’s trying too hard.”