top of page

How to create a "Sexy French Icon" look

Vintage and Retro glamour has always inspired current trendsetters, often iconic stars of eras gone by whose striking beauty, trendsetting style and tabloid reputations kept generations intrigued and on their toes anticipating the next paparazzi photograph of their favourite stars. Ladies mimicked their looks and the way they carried themselves and spoke, often aspiring to live

their more than sensational lives.

Hollywood vixens such as Marilyn Monroe embodied perfect red carpet qualities and all eyes were on her.Andy Warhol’s mod muse Edie Sedgwick inspired a generation of baby boomers with her playful waif looks, and drew public interest in fashion and beauty away from the curvier role models of the previous era.

Across the Atlantic, and over to the European continent, Italian and French actresses, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Denueve and Sophia Loren spun their own brand of sultry sex kitten seduction. They embodied avante-garde qualities and an enigma like presence that in this day and age still appeals to fashion and culture connoisseurs hungry for their next inspiration.

French actress Catherine Deneuve, circa 1962. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

What stood out about Brigitte Bardotwas her long tousled and unstructured bouffant hair..the original bed head girl. There were the Audrey Hepburns’ of this world who made a rather slight mark with their “not one hair out of place” beauty.

The fact is, these looks are timeless, not to mention they are really big on the evening glamour circuit. You know, those important parties where all eyes are on you like the Brit Awards or your Auntie Chantelle’s fourth wedding?

Get the Look _______________________________________________

Mad Men Glamour

Inspired by Mad Men’s Betty Draper, the 1960’s housewife archetype image that makes you want to do a double take in the mirror before putting on the bacon. It is classy and bewitching. For this look we used warm peach tones and nudes emphasised by winged eyeliner on the top of the lash line and white eyeliner along the waterline.

Hair/Makeup and photography Carlos Palma


Begin by setting with 1 1/2 inch thick rollers or use large curling tongs as we did here with our model. Each section was pinned into place after curling so that the curls would not drop and could set. Do your make up while hair is setting.

When makeup is complete, return to finishing your hair. Let the pins out, gently brush or comb through the curls then backcomb your entire head (don’t be afraid to exaggerate this and give it a good dense backcomb). Then slowly start to sculpt the hair combing it back gently and flipping the curls outward at the ends. SPRAY THE HELL OUT IF IT for a look that will stay in place for hours.


Make sure to focus on giving your eyebrows a lift and a strong defined shape using a pencil or brow shadow to balance. We used Glamobrow by Rodial which mimics the texture of brow hair, is smear-proof and and has a cool spiral bristle brush on the other end that shapes the brows.

We also recommend Revlon Brow Fantasy Pencil & Gel which comes in a more modest price tag. The pencil blends into a natural shade while the sheer tinted gel keeps your eyebrows on point all day.

Rodial Glamobrow


The look here isn’t too heavy and has a matte finish. Avoid using a heavy foundation since this look requires using a good amount of loose setting powder to achieve a matte finish. Stick to a foundation that evens out skin tone, and isn’t too luminous or thick. We love Chanel’s Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup SPF15.


Use a matte brown (mid tone) eye shadow emphasising the crease and bring it to the corners and fade out. We recommend NYX Cosmetics Hot Single’s Eye Shadow in HS40 The Chaser. Later you will join the eyeliner with this crease. Make sure the crease is soft at the top but very defined at the point where you want the crease to start.

Using a liquid (waterproof) eyeliner, start at the inner corner of the eye where the tear duct is located and draw a line to the outside corner of the eye, then extend into a flick, going back and drawing over again to make sure the line is thicker from the centre point of the eye and thinner at its outer most point.

Use a white eyeliner on the waterline (bottom eyelids) to brighten the eyes and give that retro appeal.

Use mascara on top lashes only and some individual lashes at the end if desired to enhance the eyes further. Apply a couple of coats.

Image: NYX Cosmetics Hot Single’s Eye Shadow HS40 The Chaser


Use a peach toned blusher such as Bobbi Brown in ‘Pastel Peach’ or True Match blush in ‘160 Peach’. Once again select according to your skin tone and stick to a powder formula.


For an authentic retro look use a nude tone that complements your skin tone.

Inspiration for an authentic nude ‘retro’ lip from an originalYardley of London advertisement.



This look is reminiscent of a time when the French youth, inspired by Nouvelle Vague fashion and film, frolicked the Côte D’Azur in the 1960’s, and also brings to mind an image of a youthful Catherine Deneuve in Grisha Dabat’s film ‘And Satan Leads the Dance‘ where she wore a bouffant bob and a bow-tied black ribbon in her hair.

Hair and Makeup by Carlos Palma Photography by Alex James


The ethereal beauty of our model adds to the femininity of this look, but any skin tone can achieve this look as long as a delicate palette is used. We used a pretty matte pink lipstick by MAC in Pink Plaid. Another colour we love is Rimmel’s Kate Moss Matte lipstick in Soft Pink 101.

Mac lipstick in Pink Plaid


For the eyes a thin black eyeliner was used to draw a line across the top of the lash line that was extended outwards into a flick, followed by applying a grey Urban Decay eye shadow in S&M on the lid up to the crease and emulating the shape of the black eyeliner, blending for a soft finish. Then the black line was drawn over again. Apply a couple coats of black mascara to the top and bottom of the lashes.


A soft pink blusher was used on our model, but for a more dramatic look a brighter pink can be used on the cheeks. Make up artist Carlos Palma used Shu Uemura’s Glow On in P Soft Pink 324.


Even out skin tone using a water based foundation, then set with a small amount of loose translucent setting powder and apply a little shimmer onto the cheek bones to give a delicate glow. We used Laura Mercier’s Transclucent Loose Setting Powder. It’s a gem!

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder


Blow dry hair back and away from the face, while making it as smooth and straight as possible (use straighteners if needed). Back comb at the top and crown of the head, smoothing lightly and making sure not to comb out any teasing. Then use a decorative elastic or plastic band and push it from the forehead then back until it is placed on the centre of the head. Your hair will automatically have that raised Bouffant look – then off you go into the world to melt hearts.

We'd Love to hear from you! Send us a message

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page