How to power dress like a Parisian: Sisley's Christine D'Ornano explains

Beauty runs in Christine d'Ornano's veins. The granddaughter of Comte Guillaume d’Ornano, co-founder of Lancome, her parents created the French plant/science-based skincare brand Sisley. She has every lotion and potion at her fingertips but as a mother of three daughters, and international vice president of the Sisley global beauty empire, we wanted to know how she juggles her style and makes it work.

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What do you think power dressing means in 2015?

The idea of power dressing is such a dated one but of course, we need to look professional and appropriate for whatever situation we find ourselves in. Firstly it’s about confidence and being well put together. I think being soigne [elegant] is always important. For women there are so many balls to juggle - they might be at home with their children one minute, and then they have to be in a meeting where they might have to convey power and they haven’t got a lot of time to get changed.

So actually I’d say that power dressing is being able to put something together where you look slick without spending too much time on it. For that I have prepared outfits which I can stick on usually a skirt with a sharp, tailored jacket or very slim black jeans and a nice jacket which can look more modern. I’m not really a bag person, I often wear vintage bags.

Does that include heels versus flats?

Personally I feel more put together in heels – although I never wear very high heels- but a medium height such as Valentino’s Rockstud mid heels or kitten heels really helps.

And what about power make up?

It’s about looking groomed, which doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of make-up. The eyes are done too to add definition. And then I even out skin tone and it’s some lipstick (my favourite is Sisley's Geisha Red) which always makes you look finished.

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How do powerful Parisian women dress?

If you look closely at French fashion editors, most of them have uniforms. Take Emmanuelle Alt (above), the editor of French Vogue, she always wears the same thing: a pair of black (sometimes white) jeans with a crisp shirt, a structured jacket and a heel. They don’t wear much jewellery and if they do it's very thin sliver of a bracelet or necklace. I think that that looks more modern. I’d actually prefer to wear a great lipstick.

They will also spend some time thinking about something that is a bit standout such as a great pattern or great colour. It’s funny as I went to an English boarding school where we had to wear a uniform so we used to love wearing home clothes. But now I love the idea of a uniform that you don’t have to think about. I try not to wear too much black because you look fresher somehow in colour. I quite believe in the power of wearing colours: get the right one, something that really works with your complexion and you just glow.

That’s interesting? What colours work for you?

There is no one colour but a lot of the time I dress to complement my complexion and I think about how my skin is looking that day. Sometimes black is flattering but I always think how can I make my skin look better. If I’m tanned, I will wear a lot of colour and I enjoy different colour combinations. I’ve just packed this fuchsia Isabel Marant jacket for a work trip to Paris and I find wearing that will give me confidence. I also love Jonathan Saunders, Vikshenko and Suno for great print and colour.

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Whose style do you admire? And who influenced you growing up?

Growing up I was influenced by my mother, Isabelle d’Ornano (above) who is known for being very elegant and she has always dressed in a lot of pattern and colour which really suits her. It’s quite baroque almost…but obviously I also rebelled by wearing very clean lines, lots of neutrals, like what Calvin Klein did in the 1990s.

But little by little I’m dressing more like her. I won’t ever dress completely like her but I recently bought something from Dries van Noten which I wouldn’t have worn before. I also admired the way Jane Birkin and Lou Doillon dress, which is very stylish.

What is your favourite item of clothing and why?

Probably a Duro Olowu dress (pictured) because it’s floaty, quite feminine and is fun to wear.

Are you a clothes hoarder or do you ruthlessly edit?

A hoarder! But I have three daughters. I know how much I loved rummaging through my mum’s old clothes and even then, I had two older sisters so there wasn’t as much left.

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What is your skincare ritual?

I don’t have much time but I’ve found that I’ve really started to layer product. So I cleanse my skin, put on some Sisley Essential Skin Care Lotion before a layer of Black Rose Precious Face Oil. Then I make breakfast for the children and then put All Day, All Year face cream on. At the weekend I try to find 20 minutes to put on some Crème Gommante which is great for getting rid of imperfections and at night I use Supremya. I have Sisley facials once a month at Claridge's which really makes a difference.

What style advice would you give your 17-year-old self?

To think more of what suits you and adopt your own style.

You’re Parisian but you have spent a lot of time in Britain; which way of dressing do you identify with most?

I feel both but I do like all the French brands and have always worn them. I do like the eccentric side of the British but I don’t think I could ever dress like that.

What are the clothes brands that you always rely upon? Has your approach to dressing changed since you’ve been juggling work with kids?

I’ve always worn a lot of Isabel Marant and Iro, I like the clean, sharp line of a Balenciaga jacket or Saint Laurent tux jacket for the evening. I also love Equipment shirts and black J Brand jeans. I like quality things and also get all my underwear from Eres. I basically dress in three ways: very relaxed as a mother; for work I want to wear clothes that make me look professional and in the evening, I can be quite playful. 

My day-to-day essentials...

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By Carolyn Asome