When it comes to fashion infatuation, it doesn’t get much more intense for us than Charlotte Gainsbourg. The elusive actress and singer is pretty much the epitome of just-woke-up-like this effortless—like, we really wish we could look this cool, literally all of the time. And while Gainsbourg is clearly a woman of many talents—see her four solo albums (P.S. her first, written for her by father Serge, was released when she was just 13) and many, many acting credits, we can’t help but wonder if it was her French effortlessness that had Lars von Trier cast her in Nymphomaniac (Volumes I and II). And lets face it: her perpetual, ahem, just-rolled-out-of-bed look makes her just about the perfect person to play someone who’s, well, super sexually active.
We figure the key is all in the hair—that slightly messy, full French hair that manages to give the impression that you just had a little satisfying, uh, bed-bound exercise. So say you want the look, but, ahem, not necessarily doing the required work. Turns out there are ways of imitating the real thing, and so we talked to hairstylist Hallie Bowman, a pro in expertly turned-out sex hair who happens to have some firsthand history tending to Gainsbourg’s locks, too. And while hers is all natural—as in, she doesn’t need to do any kind of legwork, she literally just woke up like this. (Jealous, much? We are.) But then, what else would you expect from Jane Birkin’s flesh and blood? We mean, Gainsbourg’s gene pool kind of doesn't get any better. Fortunately, when it comes to her hair, it’s something we can at least attempt to imitate, as per Bowman’s tips and tricks. And yes, you’re welcome.
On meeting Gainsbourg for the first time…
I met Charlotte on this Paper [Magazine] shoot. I remember her being very low key and not fussy. In fact she showed up with her hair looking a lot like it did for the shoot. (You'll find she looks similar in most her press shots.) She has a very specific look and we didn't want to veer from it. I appreciate it when a personality has a strong sense of personal style. It takes the guess work out of my job and I can then focus on making the look the best version of the already solid persona. She came across a little tomboy and rocker chick but quiet and introspective. I'm a fan of this look so we vibed on our similar styles.
On her naturally oh-so-perfect hair…
Her hair is what I would call medium texture (not coarse but not fine) with a slight bend if not a little wave. She has very normal hair that hasn't been over-worked so it wasn't damaged. She is the kind of girl who lets her hair air-dry and it looks great; it’s just plain good fortune. So I'm sure she doesn't use much heat or styling products on her daily regime. If it were my hair I would air dry with Davines salt spray and let it be. [With her] I started with dry hair so we didn't use a salt spray. She hadn't used any products in it before I got to her. She isn't a fussy gal so I'd venter to guess she uses a great shampoo and conditioner and that’s that. I'd recommend to her the Davines OI shampoo, conditioner and milk as a perfect regime for her hair type.
On how she gets “sex hair” without, you know, doing the actual deed…
Charlotte’s hair was dry, and she had those great bumps and lumps in the crown that cowlicks make—I was glad not to blow dry her hair as those bumps make for personality in a style that I always try to leave alone. I added a light spray of the Joico dry spray wax to her whole head and used a big barrel curling iron to add uneven curl and wave to the last half of her length. The spray wax made her hair a little "dirty" feeling and workable. To get the uneven or unfussy curls I'm talking about, twist the hair into a rope before you wrap it around the barrel of the iron. Don't hold it there too long and when you release it shake it out and help to form the shape while it's still hot.
When I want to get an excess of fly-aways I use Davines medium hold finishing gum. I coat my palms with it and sort of touch the hair and pull away with just a few hairs that stick. This product is also a champ at gluing down breakage or baby bangs. (Use very lightly for this.) Another way to get a halo of frizz is to use a velcro roller: while holding the ends in place touch the velcro roller to the outside of the hair and it will pick up lots of little hairs and create a net of frizz.
If your hair were thicker I would use a grooming cream (Kiehl’s Silk Groom or Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme) to give it a dirty look that doesn't build bulk (the dry spray wax I used makes hair fuller.)
If your hair were thinner, I’d wet it and blow it out with a volumizing product like Davines volume boosting mousse or Volu Mist. (They work the best, but also I just love the smell!)
On how to DIY it…
I'd start with a great shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. My favorite—as I'm sure you can guess—is by Davines. (I swear I'm not being paid by them!) For my hair I like the new Replumping Shampoo and Conditioner. Then I'd use the volume boosting mousse and blow out the hair, being careful not to flatten the roots. If you're not prone to frizz, flip your hair to get the most volume at the roots not worrying about smoothing cowlicks. But first dry the bangs before they dry upside down!
Then I'd use a light hairspray. (Again I’m a fan of the Davines sprays as well—they smell so good!!) Using a 1½''-barrel curling iron, wave the bottom half of the hair being careful not to curl up higher than the jaw line. Spin the hair into (loose) ropes before wrapping it around the barrel the way you'd do a spiral curl. Make sure to include the ends to complete the curls (so they aren't straight). Shake out the curl while it's still hot to make sure to form the uneven curls before they cool. If you leave the curl in the roped shape you will have much more tighter waves than you want. You may want to do occasional non-roped curling for less uniform curls. After curling, depending on the texture of your hair, you may need a little dirtying. Use the Joico Dry Spray Wax for a light coat of texture. Or use a grooming cream to separate thick hair into messy pieces. Make sure to break up the curls with your fingers, not a brush. Then don't be precious about it! The messier the better. As in you just rolled out of bed looking this fabulous.