In Molière’s L’École des Femmes, the main character is a middle aged man so intimidated by femininity that he seeks to control it, much to his romantic demise. Fast forward a few centuries and Laura Sfez wears a tee shirt she created that reads une femme libre (a free woman). But unlike the doomed protagonist, this Parisienne designer knows more than a thing or two about femininity. She practically defines it. Liberated, sensual, and unapologetic, she embodies the philosophy of her own designs and made a name for herself modelling them for her 95K Instagram followers. She named her clothing line, L’École des Femmes, because she wanted it to be as timeless as Molière and as sophisticated as a woman. And of course, like Molière, utterly French.
Laura herself however spent her childhood between Paris and Los Angeles. As she prepares to open her new store there on Beverly Blvd. October 15th, I thought I would interview her about her unique perspective on the difference between French and American women when it comes to beauty and sex appeal, as well as her inspirations for her dresses that have become a staple in my own wardrobe and are adored by francophile fashionistas across the world.
Are you more Parisienne or American?
I embrace both. Growing up in Paris, school is rigid and demanding. But education is rich outside of school too. Everywhere is full of history, which cultivated my love of art, music, and cinema. Like a true Parisienne I’m confrontational, outspoken, and love to break the rules. But always polite. I embrace my femininity, yet I love fitness and sports, which has been one of the greatest influences of the time I spent in Los Angeles growing up. America gave me freedom to dream about entrepreneurship and be ambitious. Even so, I’ll never be American, no matter how convincing my accent is. France will always feel like home.
What is the influence of French clichés and Paris on your designs?
I think everything that will ever look good on a woman has already been made. The problem is finding these items in our modern shopping world. So I make things that I dream of wearing and can't find but I’ve seen in French films and photography, like Buñuel movies and runway looks from the eighties and nineties. I love French uniforms, clichés like the beret, and peter pan collared dresses. I dream of buying these outfits in Paris but today you can’t, so I design them myself instead.
Do you think French women approach beauty differently from American women?
They’re very different. Parisian women have good taste in makeup as to what’s appropriate when and where. There are simple rules and everyone owns the classics. It’s almost like homework to do so. In my opinion, American women are more extreme in their approach to beauty. They want to wow and go between opposites, and thus beauty in America seems less effortless. Also, American women like big hair. French girls work less on it and leave it be. Overall the Parisian approach to beauty is more low-key.
What do you think the sexiest makeup is for a woman?
The sexiest look for a woman is personality — makeup that is subtle and conveys personality is lovely to me. It’s not about concealing anything but instead to communicate a style. Also, a touch of red is magical. Red is incredibly seductive to the eye and the color of passion.
What’s your signature makeup look and favourite products?
I love winged tips. I feel like I'm cat woman as soon as I put it on, and use either a black liquid liner or a pencil eyeliner. I love a red lipstick to compliment a black outfit and make it pop; I wear it when I am most proud of who I am and want to show off my good spirits. But I can’t live without my moisturiser and toner
because my signature look is no foundation, ever.
Any French beauty secrets to share?
Indulge a little and enjoy life! It makes for a happier face.