Aymeline Valade was beaming backstage at Balmain this morning, an effect that went beyond makeup artist Tom Pecheux’s expert bronzing effort. “It’s at the top of the box office in France,” she effused of Saint Laurent, Bertrand Bonello’s new Yves Saint Laurent biopic that opened in Paris last night. In her first-ever film role, Valade plays Betty Catroux, the androgynous Saint Laurent muse who helped popularize the designer’s iconic Le Smoking in the seventies (and inspired the similarly styled tuxedo that Valade wore to the film’s premier in Cannes this summer).
Having taken a break from the runway to focus on the film, which started production last March, she didn’t take sharing the screen with stars Léa Seydoux and Gaspard Ulliel lightly, adopting a Method approach to her acting debut and bleaching her light brown hair not once, but eight times to get Catroux’s corn silk color just right. And while many of her modeling counterparts flip regularly between shades of dark chocolate and blonde for the runway, Valade has stayed the honey-flaxen course. “I’m keeping it until the American release for good luck,” she admitted. That happens next week at the New York Film Festival, although if #posivibes are what Valade is after, she should consider maintaining the dye job a bit longer; earlier this week, it was announced that the film has been chosen as France’s selection for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars—meaning she just might be onto something.
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