Issue 66 Is Out Now! As Seen Inside, Ten Meets The Multi-Talented Lou Doillon
Right now, Lou Doillon is “kind of going along with the flow”, something ingrained in her after 20 years of acting, modelling, singing and performing at festivals. “All of my jobs depend on other people’s will, desire or whatever,” she says, “so you’ve got to become very tough and self-disciplined and be able to evolve in a business where, for God knows what reason, people want you, and a year later, for God knows what reason, people don’t want you any more.
“It’s a hard one on the brain, like applying for a job every week and, like any actress or musician, the list of things I didn’t make happen or didn’t get, you know… For the 30 there are 300. I guess that’s why artists have been able to be relatively at peace during this past year of extreme chaos and uncertainty, as these are jobs where chaos is part of our life. You always have to find a happy place, because learning from age 18 in a corridor at a casting where you feel insecure, like any human you’re kind of freaking out, and if you have a book or a notebook in which you draw or if you’re writing a melody in your head, suddenly you’re much safer and much more grounded. All these ways of making yourself happy by yourself are extremely important.”
Right now, Gucci wants Doillon – she is a long-time friend of the house. “I’m a lucky girl for many reasons. Growing up, I was always taken from one place to another and had a gypsy childhood at a time when people weren’t obsessed by children’s happiness. We didn’t have the internet or any of those things. I had funny parents [Jane Birkin and the film director Jacques Doillon], who really didn’t take books or toys for me to do stuff with, which meant that very early I learnt how to live in my own bubble. Once I said to my uncle, when I was three or four, ‘I’m bored,’ and he said, ‘No you’re not, you’re boring,’ and that was the last time in my life when I was bored. I thought, ‘Fuck it, he’s right, how crazy to give the keys to your happiness to other people.’ And so I’ve become a seeker of pleasure and I’m very good at it, in the sense that I don’t need much to be happy.”
She draws and loves reading, which she says, “is just the easiest way of escaping and learning and opening up your brain, obviously, but also your empathy and your love”. She makes music, too – “The guitar is an instrument you can take everywhere, and singing – you don’t need anything or anyone to just kind of resonate within yourself. I don’t need many things to be happy.” It’s drawing that she really gets a kick from. “There might be phone calls for work coming in and I can’t pick up as I’m having the time of my life drawing [on] my leg!” she says with a laugh. “I take enormous pleasure from it.” Last year, she illustrated a 10th-anniversary edition of Just Kids by Patti Smith, one of her cherished icons/inspirations.
Paris-based Doillon, now 38, is researching her next album, a follow-up to last year’s EP, Look at Me Now, which she produced and distributed herself. “I did all this stuff, which was extremely time-consuming, very interesting, because doing every single job is kind of crazy. I did my own videos and I was editing them, and I did graphic design on them and I learnt how to draw on a computer to be able to do video, and did 11,000 drawings for the video. It took me six weeks.” Exhausting? No, exhilarating. “I’ve discovered loads of obscure French bands from the 1970s. I’m having fun – I’ve been listening to lots of French rock and weird stuff that’s really cool.” Her pick for 2020 is Fetch the Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple, “for sure”. She has also been hosting a radio show every Sunday night on the French station RTL2, sharing a mix of musicians and line-up of creative friends and people. Like attracts like.
Doillon is the OG bohemian, after all. She laughs. “I guess that I come from something quite exceptional. I guess it is three generations of artists, which means people who don’t care about other people’s opinions and are devoted – because you need to be – and hardworking at something completely abstract. So that makes us singular, in the sense that, today, most fame or any form of success is associated with money. My growing up had nothing to do with that. We were surrounded by the biggest of all riches, which is brains and smart people. I was never in St Tropez, I was never in Cannes, I was never in hotel suites, I was never in first class. Today everyone is obsessed by money.
“No, when I was growing up, my mum was – I realise now – absolutely bloody gorgeous, had her own style and was doing whatever she wanted, driving in her crazy, loony, tiny car with all the kids in the back that she had from different men without getting married, not giving a shit about it, cooking for her whole team, playing insanely radical plays with the best playwrights at the time, driving back home, cooking for the biggest philosophers of the time, biggest writers of the time. Yeah, I had people around who all looked like… I used to say to my mum, ‘Oh, who’s that bum?! He looks like a guy in the street,’ and she would say, ‘Well, that’s one of the best American directors of the ’50s.’ And everyone is just eating around the table, chicken made by my mum in a kind of crummy, crazy house, with people painting in one room and making music in another, and no one cared about money, no one cared about any form of rules, which is hard when you’re a child, because it doesn’t make the best parents [Laughs.]. If you survive it you live in a world of just such luxury, and the luxury was how smart people were, how everyone was constantly having debates, highly opinionated men and women going at each other’s throats for concepts, for humanitarian projects, everything done in a very naive way, in fact. I don’t remember any of them thinking, ‘Oooh, should I do this?’”
They worked hard, though. “My dad was editing his movies at home on a 1940s editing machine – you had to learn a craft from the start to the end to know how to do it perfectly. I was an assistant grip, assistant editor, assistant sound girl. The obsession is the craft. The vision I have of my mum in her tiny, weeny car, singing her head off, having her cigarettes, all the kids in the back, not caring what anyone thinks about anything and just doing the covers of magazines half-naked if she wanted to, but on the other side reading poetry and on the other side directing movies by herself. Today, when I look back, I think, ‘Wow, how lucky, that’s bohemian to me.’”
Doillon reckons she is, “much more moral because the times are”, and because she, “suffered like any child of artists”. She had her son, Marlowe, when she was 19, which made her want to be more responsible. “I guess I’m a bit more boring, in that I think, ‘Ooh, what would my son think?’, which my mum must have never thought once in her life, and bless her for it.” Apart from her family and body of work, Doillon’s other happy place is when she’s among her Gucci family. “It’s not only fun but it’s perfect! And to be completely honest, they back so many artists and we have been living in a hard time. I love fashion and I’ve always had fun in fashion, and Gucci is a massive house, obviously, and they are so respectful towards Alessandro. He has created this creative hub where the only thing that is asked – or not asked, that’s why they choose you – is that people are absolutely singular in their way of doing things, will never compromise and will ‘twist’, ‘tear’ and ‘find’ themselves in clothes. It’s the only show that I go to where, in the front row, everyone has their own style, and everything is all Gucci, but everyone is being exactly who they are. Whether it’s Iggy Pop sitting on my right, A$AP Rocky or myself, or Soko, none of us do the same kind of music, none of us have the same kind of life, and we’ve all been able to pick something in Gucci that resembles us. That’s what Alessandro wants – if you’re going into that house to have someone telling you what to wear or how to dress, they don’t. The idea is for you to have the most fun, be the most creative, do whatever you want with their clothes.”
Doillon loves fashion because it’s one of the best ways to communicate. “It’s the oldest way to communicate. That’s how you show your love for music, your love for people. It’s for 2,000 years or more the way we were showing even our status – married, widow, rich or poor, noble or peasant – everything was going through clothes. And I love those codes because you can break them, and you can have fun with them, and Alessandro has a real love for that. There is a freedom where the tailoring is beautiful, which is normal in a way, but the madness of the accessories… ” Every four months Gucci sends her a box “with the craziest stuff, and then it’s like costume, when suddenly I open up the box and there’s the shape of an actual ear in gold – well, fake gold – but that, plus a crazy headset and this mad jewellery is in it. There’s humour in it, an innocence and something extremely colourful and the odd mix I’ve always loved – putting squares with polka dots. I love having no rules. And that’s exactly how Alessandro functions. I know he takes real pleasure seeing how much fun we have with his clothes and how everyone takes them to a different place.”
She loves life and so we finish up talking about essence. “I cannot be defined in a few words… ” She thinks for a while, wrestling with it, then says: “Kookiness, singularity, but also something slightly mad! Curiosity, for sure. And I do laugh all the time, so I guess humour would be in it. And intense for sure.”
All clothing by Gucci. Issue 66 of 10 Magazine – MY, HAPPY, PLACE – is out NOW. Order your copy here.
GUCCI: ENCORE AU BONHEUR
Photographer Giovanni Corabi
Fashion editor Rúben Moreira
Text Alison Veness
Hair Yoann Fernandez at Artlist
Make-up Ruben Mas
Talent Lou Doillon
Fashion assistant Thomas Santos
Shot at Hotel Les Bains, Paris
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