V79

ARTICLE NATASHA FRASER-CAVASSONI

PHOTOGRAPHY KARL LAGERFELD

STYLIST CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE

CREDITS ARTICLE CONTENTS

NEW SOUNDS

HEROES: CLIVE DAVIS

GLAMOUR PUSS

EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup James Kaliardos (Art + Commerce)  Hair Odile Gilbert (L’ATELIER 68)  Model Laetitia Casta and choupette (IMG)  Manicure Anny Errandonea (Mariefrance-Thavonekham)  Director of Image Eric Pfrunder  Photo assistants Olivier Saillant, Frederic David, Bernward Sollich, Xavier Arias  Stylist assistants Kate Grella and Allegra Beck  Makeup assistant Veronick Boumaza Hair assistant Tan Pham  Production Melissa Mortensen Production assistant Aliza Berger  Retouching L udovic d’Hardivillé Location Shangri-La Hotel, Paris  Special thanks Laura Molnar (Shangri-La Hotel, Paris)

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GLAMOUR PUSS

PHOTOGRAPHY KARL LAGERFELD
FASHION CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE
TEXT NATASHA FRASER-CAVASSONI
MODEL CHOUPETTE / LAETITIA CASTA

HER PURRFECT POUT LIGHTING UP THE BIG SCREEN THIS FALL, MODEL AND ACTRESS LAETITIA CASTA TACKLES HER NEWEST ROLE: COSTAR OF THE FIRST-EVER FASHION SHOOT FEATURING KARL LAGERFELD'S BELOVED PET, CHOUPETTE. HERE, THE FAMOUS FELINE AND THE FRENCH STARLET PUT ON THEIR BEST FACES AND BED DOWN FOR A CATNAP, ONE BALMY EVENING IN PARIS

Laetitia Casta arrives alone, five minutes earlier than arranged. Dressed in a simple saffron yellow cotton sundress under a black leather jacket, she appears about a decade younger than her 34 years. Indeed, the mother of three could easily pass for a ravishingly pretty ingénue, especially when she walks across the floor of a Parisian brasserie as if lit by her own personal spotlight. In spite of her radiance, she’s unusually grounded and direct. Casta may be a huge star in France—she’s made hit films and appeared in top advertising campaigns, was a muse to the late Yves Saint Laurent, and in 1999 was selected as the face of Marianne, the symbol of the French Republic and liberty—but she wears her fame lightly.

Keen to conduct the interview in English, Casta admits that she is “not so happy” about her command of the language. “I have a big accent,” she says with a soft smile. “And it’s quite hard to do films in the States with an accent.” Nevertheless the multitalented beauty is about to shine again, in her first American film—the thriller Arbitrage—playing the mistress of Richard Gere, who portrays a high-powered businessman. “Although my part is really small, I felt I could do something with it,” she says. Describing Gere as “a cool, sweet guy,” she says that she admired his attitude and “how you forget that he’s Richard Gere.” Casta was also excited to work with director Nicholas Jarecki on his first narrative feature.

Arbitrage is the opposite of what Casta has been aiming to avoid, namely the big commercial film requiring her to “play the big, pretty girl.” Lionsgate produced Arbitrage while Weinstein Co. is releasing an English version of The War of the Buttons, which stars Casta and is set in occupied France, during the Second World War. Harvey Weinstein—the powerful force behind the latter project—has known Casta since 2001. “We met at the Cannes Film Festival when I was promoting Les Ames Fortes,” she says. “He was very critical and said, ‘You’ve got to stop making movies like this,’ and I said, ‘Listen, I was young then, and I needed to learn.’”

The massive Weinstein confronting the petite Casta must have presented a rather amusing David and Goliath image, and indeed the French actress’s courage has served her well. At the age of 15, she was discovered by a model agent while building sand castles, and since then shehas successfully vamped it up for photographers like Jean-Paul Goude, Mario Testino, and Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. She has never had a single acting lesson, yet she has been hailed for her honesty on screen, garnering acclaim for her performance in Born in 68— which required her to age throughout—and her portrayal of Brigitte Bardot in Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. The biopic about the amorous singer led to seven César nominations, including one for Casta, for Best Supporting Actress. “When I am photographed or acting, I am playing a role,” she says demurely. “I turn it on and I turn it off. In reality I am pretty shy about my body, but professionally I know how to switch into character. I need to feel that.”

For this shoot, Casta was not shy about posing with Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved cat, Choupette. “She is an unusually beautiful cat, and it was a lovely experience,” she says. “Karl is so cultured. He arrived and was very surrounded, but I told him that I want to have lunch alone with him. I am interested in one-on-one.”

This fall in France, she’ll be seen in films including Hump Day—a light comedy that spoofs the porn industry, directed by Yvan Attal (the longtime paramour of Charlotte Gainsbourg)—and Les Adorés, which is based on Édouard Stern, the billionaire banker who was found dead in a latex bodysuit. Benoît Poelvoorde—the brilliant albeit temperamental Belgian actor—plays the role of Stern, while Casta is once again cast as the mistress. “That film was really dark,” she says, adding that Poelvoorde was an inspiration. “He’s very raw and sensitive, but I like creative, fragile people. They touch and move me.”

And on that note she begins talking about her special relationship with the legendary Saint Laurent. “He was so shy, but so was I,” she says. “We needed each other like two people who decide to take the plunge and go underwater.” And the feeling was clearly reciprocated. When the designer and his partner Pierre Bergé first introduced Casta on the YSL runway, Marilyn Monroe's recording of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” served as the soundtrack.

“They both said, ‘Do what you want,’ and so I started to dance and play. Afterwards Saint Laurent said, ‘Well, one day, Laetitia, you’ll be an actress.’ So it all started there. I don’t think you meet so many people like that in your life. He taught me. I had no idea about anything.”

EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup James Kaliardos (Art + Commerce)  Hair Odile Gilbert (L’ATELIER 68)  Model Laetitia Casta and choupette (IMG)  Manicure Anny Errandonea (Mariefrance-Thavonekham)  Director of Image Eric Pfrunder  Photo assistants Olivier Saillant, Frederic David, Bernward Sollich, Xavier Arias  Stylist assistants Kate Grella and Allegra Beck  Makeup assistant Veronick Boumaza Hair assistant Tan Pham  Production Melissa Mortensen Production assistant Aliza Berger  Retouching L udovic d’Hardivillé Location Shangri-La Hotel, Paris  Special thanks Laura Molnar (Shangri-La Hotel, Paris)

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