The Courtin-Clarins girls are hard to miss: They are all tall, statuesque, French, impeccably dressed and always in the front row at fashion week. But Virginie, the eldest of the beauty-empire heirs (which include her sister, Claire, and twin cousins, Prisca and Jenna), is not resting on her good looks.
In fact, she's busy flying back and forth between New York (where Claire lives) and her home in Paris ("I'm very lucky, I never feel jet-lag," Virginie explained), celebrating the one-year anniversary of her swimsuit line Luz (which is available in the U.S. exclusively on her friend Olivier Van Themsche's new shopping site The Cools) and maintaining her effortless-looking (but certainly time-consuming) long blond hair, perfect wardrobe and flawless skin.
"It takes a lot of time," she said, laughing, when I asked about her beauty routine, "Because I grew up in a family where beauty was very important." But she quickly clarified what she meant by the word "beauty": "like beauty in the natural way, not like in the lots-of-makeup way." This means no extensions, no fake hair, no fake nails... just good, old-fashioned moisturizers, balms and other family-brewed concoctions.
And by "a lot of time," she means a lifetime. "When I was two years old, all I wanted was to have long hair, and I would get really crazy whenever we were going to the hairdresser to cut my hair. Even today, I am also like that. I never cut my hair. I get it cut like twice a year, and whenever I do -- even a little bit -- I feel awful I ache after."
While long hair is often equated with power, Virginie has found a different source for strength: her six-foot-tall frame. "I think it like gives you kind of a power," she explained, "people have to raise their heads." Although her height has made certain kinds of clothes shopping (pants, long gowns and even shirts) difficult, it is not something that has ever made her self-conscious. "I know a lot of people say it was not easy for them to be tall, but, for me, I don’t think it was hard. It's better to be tall than to be short!"
And, being tall has had an unexpected benefit, as it has encouraged some creativity when it comes to style ("The cuffs are always too short, so my sister and I have a lot of men's shirts. They’re longer and they’re better than the too-short shirts!") and it hasn't stopped her from wearing heels ("I think you shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed of how tall you are. I wear very high heels!").
Wearing men's shirts and the same shoe size isn't the only similarity between Virginie and Claire, but the two sisters do have very distinctly different styles: "I am more, like, Parisian than her. I like elegant clothes, I like beautiful fabrics, but what I think is important is very feminine and glamorous" -- and, like with the word "beauty," "glamorous" needed a translation: "When I say glamorous, I think more charismatic, because I'm not like a big-boobs girl. When I use glamorous, it's more in an elegant way. My sister's way more bohemian. She has her own style, it’s very difficult to describe. She's more downtown. It's funny, because sometimes when we go shopping together, I find some pieces that nobody could buy, it's too weird, and for Claire, I know she will love it."
"Even though we have very different styles, sometimes we like the same things. This week in New York, we both picked up the exact same outfit, but we wear it in very different ways. I wear it more in a like a black and glamorous for night, and my sister would wear it during the day in a very edgy way with some Doc Martens or something."
Their intensely personal style is clear in photographs of the girls together -- which seems to be happening more and more every day. Although it seems like they have always had their act together, Virginie insists that being more in the spotlight has helped fine-tune their already distinct styles, "When you meet people who work in fashion and have love for fashion, you realize that there is nothing you cannot dare to wear, there’s nothing that’s too much. Just go and listen to you are and don’t be afraid of wearing anything."
Take a look at the photos below to see more of the Courtin-Clarins sisters -- sans Doc Martens: