Life Style

Jeanne Damas’s Rouje: A New Standard-Bearer for French-Girl Style


Seated outdoors at Gemma, the restaurant located at the Bowery Hotel in Lower Manhattan, Jeanne Damas epitomized what many would describe as the quintessential French-girl style.

She was clad in a camel trench coat paired with jeans. Her brown hair, complete with tousled bangs, exuded an effortlessly natural look, as though she had just rolled out of bed. Notably, her makeup consisted mainly of faded red lipstick, lending her a more understated and natural appearance. Right on cue, a waiter arrived to serve her a black coffee and a croissant.

This particular Wednesday morning in September marked the last day of New York Fashion Week. Jeanne Damas, aged 31, had arrived in New York City from Paris the day prior.

Later in the evening, she was set to inaugurate a new Rouje store in Manhattan. Rouje, a fashion brand she founded in 2016, has gained recognition for its collection of feminine basics infused with a distinct Parisian sensibility. Shortly after its inception, GQ hailed Jeanne Damas as “the coolest, most beautiful French girl in France right now.” Meanwhile, French Vogue has dubbed her “the Paris girl personified.”

Originally launched as an e-commerce venture, Rouje has progressively expanded into brick-and-mortar retail. The New York store, situated on Broome Street in SoHo, represents the brand’s maiden venture into the United States. Seven other Rouje boutiques have sprung up in the United Kingdom and France, including locations in London, Paris, and Bordeaux.

Despite Rouje’s growth, Jeanne Damas disclosed that she has made minimal adjustments to the brand’s aesthetic, which remains deeply rooted in her personal wardrobe. “I never really changed my style since my teenage years: a pair of jeans, an oversized jacket, ankle boots, and a wrap dress,” she remarked.

Initially, Jeanne Damas gained recognition for her style through her fashion blog. One of her earliest admirers was French fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, who, after connecting with Ms. Damas online, enlisted her as a model for his brand. On platforms like Tumblr and later Instagram, she frequently posted images of herself wandering the cobblestone streets of Paris, often donning outfits accentuated with a glass of red wine or a swipe of red lipstick. It was this fondness for red lipstick that inspired her to name her brand Rouje.

While Rouje has undoubtedly been influenced by Jeanne  Damas’s personal taste, it’s hard to overlook the parallels between her style and that of the late British singer and actress Jane Birkin, who passed away in July. Though Ms. Birkin was British, she came to symbolize a style that epitomized an effortlessly elegant and distinctly French aesthetic. With Rouje, Ms. Damas, a native Frenchwoman, has effectively commodified her interpretation of that style and positioned herself and her brand as torchbearers of the French-girl look.

Jeanne Damas has recently been cast to portray another French-born fashion muse, jewelry designer Paloma Picasso, in “Kaiser Karl,” an upcoming Disney+ TV series centered around the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. According to Jérôme Salle, the show’s director, Ms. Damas embodies “a French style but with a modern elegance.” Her casting as a former “it girl” in France felt like a natural choice to Mr. Salle, who is 52 years old.

Hairstylist Delphine Courteille, 48, based in Paris and who has worked with Jeanne Damas, mentioned that other clients have often cited her as an aesthetic inspiration, particularly her hairstyle. Ms. Courteille characterized it as “very Parisian,” always featuring “Jane Birkin-style” bangs.

Jeanne Damas’s Rouje: A New Standard-Bearer for French-Girl Style

She exudes femininity and lightness, making women want to emulate her,” noted Ms. Courteille of Jeanne Damas.

Dhani Mau, 34, the editor-in-chief of Fashionista, stated that Jeanne Damas’s digital presence, boasting 1.5 million Instagram followers, has contributed to bringing French-girl style and the inspirations behind it to a broader audience. “Previously, you had to watch French films, find photographs, or travel to France,” said Ms. Mau. Additionally, Ms. Mau pointed out that Ms. Damas frequently showcases Rouje apparel on her social media, thereby cementing the brand’s association with the French-girl look.

Further boosting this association were photos of French actress Léa Seydoux wearing a red printed Rouje wrap dress on the set of the James Bond film “No Time to Die.” Jeanne Damas shared that she wasn’t initially aware that the dress was from her brand until these photos began circulating. Following this revelation, she noticed Rouje clothing appearing on “many actresses, especially in France.”

Rouje’s offerings include dresses (starting at $220), tank tops ($60), T-shirts ($70), and jeans ($185) – all staples reminiscent of Ms. Birkin’s preferences. Camille Charrière, a London-based influencer of half French descent, described these items as emblematic of French-girl style.

“The French love their basics,” commented Ms. Charrière, who is 36 years old and serves as a contributing editor for Elle UK. “The essence of French style is that it’s a slow process built up over time.”

Isabelle Chaput, a 33-year-old French fashion photographer and content creator residing in Manhattan, noted that the preference for basics partly stems from a resistance to chasing trends. “Parisians don’t want to appear as though


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