Through Her Eyes

It is said that the eyes reflect someone’s emotions, that they are the mirrors of the soul.

With this first chapter, we will be taking you on a journey through the beautiful eyes of Emmanuelle Seigner, looking to grasp a little bit of her creativity and to discover her multiple facets as an artist. There is something spiritual and enigmatic about her. In this issue, she shares little bits of herself, as she talks about her inspirations, her passions, her discoveries. The rest is still a mystery.

Melanie and Rosalie
Watch Being Emmanuelle Seigner
Directed by Rosalie Miller
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  • POLANSKI

    'Venus in Fur', 2013

    French drama film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric. It was inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s erotic novel. The film received a César Award for Best Director.

    © Mars Distribution

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  • FRANTIC

    by Roman Polanski, 1988

    American-French mystery thriller film starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner.

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  • MICK JAGGER

    'Angie', 1973

    A song by The Rolling Stones, featured on their album ‘Goats Head Soup’.
    It topped the charts in many countries and is one of their most famous songs.

    Photo de David Bailey

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  • IGGY POP

    ‘La Derniere pluie’, 2010

    French duet between Emmanuelle Seigner and Iggy Pop, written by Keren Ann and Doriand. This song appeared on Emmanuelle Seigner’s album ‘Dingue’.

    © Columbia Sony

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  • BLONDIE

    'Rip Her to Shreds', 1976

    A song by American new wave band Blondie, which featured on the band's self-titled debut album.

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  • LOU REED

    'Lou Reed’s Berlin', 2007

    A concert film directed by Julian Schnabel, starring Lou Reed and Emmanuelle Seigner. It was shot during Lou Reed’s live concert at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn over the course of five nights.

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  • NICO

    'Femme Fatale', 1967

    A song performed by Nico from the rock band The Velvet Underground. It is inspired by the character of Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's muse at the Factory.

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  • DIVINE

    'You Think You're a Man', 1987

    Single from the album ‘The Story So Far’ by Divine, an American actor and drag queen singer, who first became famous through his appearances in John Waters’s films.

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  • POP ART

    Andy Warhol

    American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.
    He has been the subject of several exhibitions, books and movies since his death. and is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century.

    © Andy Warhol/ Moma

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  • GAGOSIAN GALLERY

    John Currin

    American painter based in New York, best known for satirical figurative paintings which deal with provocative sexual and social themes.

    © John Currin/ Gagosian Gallery

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Talk to me

With Emmanuelle Seigner

It was a clear blue morning that the blue eyed beauty came to spend with the Signature International team in Paris.

Emmanuelle Seigner entered the room with a disarming smile, and charmed us all – yet did I detect a hint of timidity?

Emmanuelle is said to have strong opinions and use strong language, I was eager to prove these rumors true. As a seemingly unique person both in her role choices and her life history, I was certain I was going to meet somebody unforgettable – and I was not disappointed.
Emmanuelle often plays unusual or strong characters – women who are not afraid of their sexuality, intelligence, or their own strength.
Could this amazing actress also be amazingly humble?

I try to be creative
in my own way,

— but I’m not
a creator.

I asked her about how creative people are often creative in many different ways – often beyond the way that they are famous for.

“The thing is for me,” she began, “I am creative in my own way but I am not a creator. I am not a director, not a songwriter, I am not a painter. So I am more creative, but in more into interpretation.”
“Unfortunately I am not really able to create like songs and direct a movie. I could do it but it would be mediocre and I think there are enough of them, so I don’t really want to add to the ambient mediocrity.” 
Indeed. The more I got to know Emmanuelle, the more I got to know how she seemingly saw herself. For such talent, beauty and confidence, Emmanuelle is one of the more modest actors I have come across. And it made me like her more.

“I think what’s important, is not to have success right away…”

I asked, how do you view your other creative side – the one that is less recognized? For Emmanuelle, she may be less known for her singing…

She didn’t flinch.

“Yeah, I did the singing late in my life…and so not so many people know it yet… it takes time and you need to get a hit song for that, and it’s long, you know. But I’m doing it, I am on the road.”

She continued

“Even as an actress at the beginning, when I did Frantic [her 1988 breakout feature-film role], people didn’t take me seriously, because I was a model before, because I was Polanski’s girlfriend, everybody was like ‘Oh yeah, she’s like a sexy bitch.’”

She laughed

 “And then it took me a lot of time for people to take me seriously…but I think what’s important is not to have success right away because that’s very dangerous I think. It’s better to build, like you build a house, you do one stone and then another stone and then another stone. And then you build a nice house I think…sometimes it’s good to struggle a little bit.”

And it seems true, life has not always been a smooth ride for Emmanuelle. She has been thrown into the midst of public controversies, and from her modeling start, she has made and maintained her own name and success in the creative world. For a person who is unique in her approach to most things creative, this can be a tricky undertaking.

As she began to open up about her life, I began to get a taste of her candor and the occasional sprinkling of flavorful language.
Emmanuelle, with her recent success playing a the seductive, manipulative Vanda in 2013’s Venus in Fur, explained one of her mantras:

“I try to be creative in my own way… I produce my albums and I try to be a little more interesting than just a boring actress.”

As if we would accuse her of that. When talking about her music, Emmanuelle told me she prefers it to acting in

I depend [on people to create music], but less. Because I can produce my own albums, it’s not as expensive as like, producing a movie. And I can choose the person I want to work with, it’s more creative and I’m more able to control what I’m doing. But still I am depending on the person who writes the song, I mean you always depend on something in life.”

She shrugged.

I decided to ask a little about her past, after all she was effectively born to be a creative – a father who was a photographer, a journalist mother, an actress grandmother, and actor grandfather Louis Seigner, a big name in his time.

“My grandfather was sort of a French Laurence Olivier, and of course since I was four years old I was every week at the Comédie Française, I saw all the plays, all the Molière, all the Shakespeare, everything. So…it’s part of my blood in a way, how I was raised.”

Why is she so different? So unpredictable? And so fascinating to the public?

Does she conform to any mold?

She replies

“Oh no I don’t. I don’t like the mold. I feel like I am in between. I am between edgy and…mainstream. And I like that. I don’t think I would like to be a big huge superstar…Because I think when you are that, you lose this artistic way, and this arty stuff, that I really like, but if you are too arty then nobody knows you and you can’t really do anything.”

She laughed.

“Especially the way the world is today that everything is so commercial and you know, empty in a way. So I think it’s nice to be a little bit in between – and yeah because the mold is boring.”

Boucheron
Quatre Radiant Edition Hoop Earrings

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Tom Ford
Leather Boots

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Boucheron
Serpent Boheme Bangle

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Ed. Pinaud
Intense Liquide
Eye Liner

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I really wanted
to be Mick Jagger,

but I also wanted
to be Lou Reed.

I began to ask her about her music, which seems to change with each album, and absolutely not fit into a mold. She explained her inspirations

“My first album I really wanted to be Mick Jagger, but I also wanted to be Lou Reed, very much.”

She giggled.

“For my second album I tried to do something more French, more pop-py, more kind of [Serge] Gainsbourg, and then for the third one my inspiration was more like The Runaways. And Jesus and the Mary Chains and The Strokes…but I would like to do a punk album.”

This is Emmanuelle. Next I ask her about the sultry duet “La Dernière Pluie” she sang with Iggy Pop, and she called him a crooner, and agreed that he too, is very much himself.

“He is very inspiring. I think before what you talked about inspiration, there were more inspiring people before. I think today, things are a bit plain, a bit boring, it’s like the low of atrophy. Everything is mixing and is sort of the same.”

Yet Emmanuelle continues to find inspiration from musicians before her. I asked about the “You Think You’re a Man” video, which was oh so punk, and asked about Divine, the American drag queen from the 80s who apparently inspired it all.

“Yeah to me I wanted to do that song because I am very inspired by Divine. And when I was thinking about doing…something more crazy or different. And I found that song. And I think it’s so great, I think it’s a song for women, and it’s kind of a feminist song, which is nice. And I think he was so inspiring and so bold, and those years were so un-politically correct, which is good, for me it’s really an homage to him…and to that attitude.”

I am between
edgy and…
mainstream.
And I like that.

Be your authentic self. I am beginning to pick up on a couple central themes here, the seeming mottos of Emmanuelle Seigner’s psyche. And so next I ask her about her rumored interest in Warhol and his Factory from the 60s, 70s and 80s. She brightens up.

“Yes, I think those people didn’t think about making money or being successful or being stars, they were just very creative. Warhol was sort of a genius and the way he understood the world…and I love this mixture of singers and actors and a bit underground, and painters…and I think that they must have had a lot of fun…I think I appreciate people who are doing what they love and for the good reasons…Yeah, not just doing something to be a movie star. This is all bullshit.”

I wonder after how she finds it to work with the talented director Roman Polanski.

“Well, working with my husband is a long thing, because I started, when I did Frantic when I was 19 years old. So it was a totally different thing from when I did Venus in Fur. When I did Frantic I was such an idiot, and I did not realize how lucky I was to do that movie with him, with Harrison Ford, and it was such a great present, but I was young and I couldn’tappreciate it the way that I should have…Venus in Fur was kind of a miracle, because I could, for kind of the first time in my life, work with him and use him like he was one of the best directors. To really work with him and do something great…in a more creative way, and more interesting, I think. It was great, but I had to wait all those years to do it.”
A good opportunity if there ever was one, I ask about Venus in Fur, as it is on track to becoming a cult film. Emmanuelle modestly replies,

“Yeah it’s weird. It was out in America, and it’s like a small release but all over America and we have the best reviews, and it’s really nice, and I know that people talk in a very good way about that film so I am really proud. Even though it’s not a big commercial movie.”

I affirm that it is an artistic success – and she says, “Yeah, exactly. ‘Succès d’estime.’ [translation: critically acclaimed non-box office hit] It’s more important.”

Elena Luoto Meister
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  • Freedom

    Charlie Hebdo : 20 years

    « Now is the time to uphold freedoms
    and not give in to fear ».
    Simon Jenkins.

    © Les échappés

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  • Factory

    'Andy Warhol's Factory People'

    A features documentary by Emmy Award winner Catherine O’Sullivan Shorr about Andy and his Silver Factory during the sixties.

    Original poster art by Tom & Leo, Paris

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  • Julian Schnabel

    'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', 2007

    Biographical drama film directed by Julian Schnabel, starring Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir. The film won several awards all around the world.

    © Steve Clute for Tom Powell imaging

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  • LOU REED

    'Venus in Furs', 1967

    Song performed by The Velvet Underground, written by Lou Reed. Inspired by the book of the same name by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the song includes sexual themes of sadomasochism.

    © ARP

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  • NEW YORK

    Gramercy Park Hotel

    A luxury historical hotel in New York. In 2006, Julian Schnabel re-imagined the interiors, many fixtures and furniture pieces as well as the hotel's logo. The hotel has also welcomed exhibits by notable artists, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Richard Prince, Julian Schnabel,
    Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol.

    © Gramercy Park Hotel

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