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Musician, Actress & Model  |  Paris




Vanessa Paradis is one of the most lauded French icons of our time. Traversing the music, film and modeling worlds with phenomenal success since she was a child, she transcended to the international spotlight as a gap-toothed ingénue at the early age of 14, following the debut of her first single, “Joe le Taxi” in 1987. She simultaneously pursued a film career as a teenager and achieved breakthrough success in Jean-Claude Brisseau’s film, Noce Blanche (White Wedding) in 1989, for which she received a César Award for Most Promising Actress. She also quickly caught the attention of Chanel and starred as the face of its Coco Chanel perfume campaign in 1991, and since then, has maintained a close relationship with the brand as a model and spokesperson.

In spite of this, Vanessa Paradis defies the starlet archetype by remaining out of the glare of the celebrity spotlight. Following her very publicised relationship (and recent breakup) with actor Johnny Depp—with whom she has two children—she cleverly guards her privacy and is known for being refreshingly humble and self-effacing. Oozing in understated cool, she also exudes a uniquely French sense of je ne sais quoi that has solidified her status as an international style icon.

Born in the suburbs of Paris in December 1972 and raised in a creative household by her interior designer parents, André and Corinne Paradis, she developed her singing career at a young age under the guidance of her uncle, actor Didier Pain. Introducing her to the world of film by taking her backstage to visit film sets and theaters, and the world of music by taking her to a studio to watch his musician friends recording an album, these experiences became some of the most defining moments of her early life. Only 12 at the time, his friends gave her the opportunity to try singing backup vocals on their album, given her perfect pitch. Shortly afterwards, she recorded “Joe le Taxi” with the same musicians, thus setting her trajectory to international pop star status. 

Guided by creative aspirations, her second album, Variations sur le Même T’Aime was produced in collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg in 1990, then she went on to record her first English-language album, Vanessa Paradis, which was produced and written by Lenny Kravitz (who she was reportedly dating at the time). She has recorded six albums over the course of her career, including her critically-acclaimed new album, Love Songs, which was produced in association with French artist, Benjamin Biolay. Known for her sultry, poetic and intensely captivating vocals, she draws audiences into her intimate, private world during her live performances—irrespective as to whether she’s performing in a large-scale international auditorium or a cosy, private venue. This summer, she is set to embark on a tour of her “Love Songs”  album throughout major French and European cities. 

With an equally accomplished film career, she has starred alongside the crème de la crème of the French film industry—notably actors Jeanne Moreau, Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, and directors Jean Becker and Patrice Leconte—and she claims several prestigious awards and nominations to her name. Following her breakthrough role in Noce Blanche which earned her a César award, she featured in French films Élisa (1994), Un Amour de Sorcière (1997), Une Chance Sur Deux (1998), and La fille sur le Pont (1999). Canadian film director Jean-Marc Vallée cast Paradis as the starring role in Café de Flore (2011), where she plays a tenacious, fierce and unflinchingly devoted single mother in the 1960s with a Down syndrome child. She will also star alongside Woody Allen and Sofia Vergara in her first English-language role in John Turturro’s directorial project, Fading Gigolo, which has just been released in the US. She also has several film projects in post-production, including Sous Les Jupes des Filles by director Audrey Dana, and Rio, Eu Te Amo, also directed by John Turturro.

With a creative agility that sees her simultaneously composing new albums, starring in pivotal film roles, being a dedicated mother and modeling in luxury fashion campaigns, Vanessa Paradis also splits her time living with her children between Los Angeles, the South of France and film set locations around the world. She recently revealed a très chic curly pixie haircut and is embarking upon the next chapter of her life in full force, where there’s no limit as to where her multi-faceted talents will take her next.

Photography: Agence HK
Portrait: Kimberley McLoughlin

Portrait first published in RedVisitor Magazine: Issue One - Purchase Now

M O R E   I N T E R V I E W S  . . .