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  • Culture

    Wild Women of Paris: Lou Doillon

    17 December 2015
    Image – Jean-Baptiste Mondino

    IS there anything this woman cannot do? Lou Doillon, one of several headline acts at So Frenchy So Chic festival, comes from a long line of impossibly chic and talented people. Despite being the daughter of film director Jacques Doillon and actress Jane Birkin (yes, the much-lusted after Birkin bag was named for her), and the half sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Doillon has forged her own remarkable career that is both distinguished and diverse, but not without controversy.

    Born in 1982, a young Doillon starred in her first movie, Kung Fu Master, alongside her mother, and by the early 2000s she was modeling for GAP, before becoming the face of Lee Cooper jeans. Her childhood was anything but ordinary. In a 2014 interview, Doillon said “My mother is old-fashioned; she raised us like girls from a 19th-century book. My sisters and I are known for being the most polite girls in France. My mother wanted us to be like royalty: never ever were we to be caught being rude, or superficial or being a star or whatever. And we all had to have piano lessons, dance lessons, and know how to cook, how to draw and how to sew.”

    Passionate about literature and philosophy, the straight-talking French woman didn’t pursue a career in music until she turned 30 and while finding her life’s passion may have come relatively late, her career as a singer and songwriter was meteoric. In 2013 she won the Les Victoires de la Musique award for best female artist. It’s remarkable to think that a former school-teacher once said that Doillon would “never be anything good in life”.

    Masterful at creating haunting, sultry songs that exude both fragility and confidence, Doillon’s (mostly) autobiographical lyrics speak of love, desire and regret – but never self-pity. Her latest album, Lay Low, recorded with Canadian artist Taylor Kirk in Montreal, has been lauded by critics, and called “elegant, undemonstrative, slightly gothic”.

    Poet, writer, actress, model, musician and more. So far, the answer is a resounding no: there is nothing this woman cannot do, but it is music that she says, offers her the most freedom. “There’s something very old-fashioned about it, which I adore”, she was reported saying last year. “I suppose I have a sense for it.”