Clémentine Desseaux Explains Why Beauty Companies Should Bank On Diversity

But not like Pepsi

“Small steps are being taken and the beauty [industry] is slowly realizing that the size of your body does not matter,” says model, visionary, and All Woman Project co-founder Clémentine Desseaux. “Every woman needs to buy beauty and skincare products regardless of her size, skin color, or gender identity. It’s still a very white and very skinny world, but I think it’s important to say when change is happening because that is what is going to encourage brands to go further and cast more diverse models.” (For example, L’Oréal Paris recently featured a wide range of models in its True Match TV spot, including Hari Nef, Sabina Karlsson, and Marquita Pring, and Pat McGrath has continually championed women of all shapes, sizes, and races as the “muses” for her namesake line.) In her native France, however, Desseaux says that those coveted cosmetic and fragrance campaigns continue to be very “elitist” and are still “reserved for blonde models, white models, and skinnier models”—perhaps to many companies’ detriment. “It makes no sense and I can’t explain it, because it’s a rule that has no grounds,” she says. “We’re trying to push and make the right move for women, but also for the brands—it’s been proven that the more diversity they showcase, the more sales they make. They are starting to see the direct results of casting choices.” 

To be clear, Desseaux isn’t suggesting that every lipstick ad or hair commercial go the Pepsi route (we’re still trying to figure out how that tone-deaf catastrophe got so far), but maybe they should consider opening their minds a bit further and taking a cue from this stunning story that the model conceptualized, directed, and starred in exclusively for Fashion Unfiltered. Showcasing some of spring’s biggest trends (Pastels! Glitter! Statement lips! Draping!), Desseaux’s shoot was designed to spotlight and juxtapose textures—like a vinyl cherry mouth against matte, freckled skin, or inky, clumped-together lashes backdropped by a smooth swathe of lavender shadow. It also proves that models aren’t mere mannequins to be posed in front of the camera. “By definition, being a model means not taking charge or responsibility,” explains Desseaux, who has no shortage of experience, perspective, or personality on set. “But I’ve done so many shoots and I know what I want and what I don’t want.” 

In addition to playing a bigger role both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, Desseaux wants to eliminate even more stigmas in the beauty world moving forward. “Age is really taboo, people don’t want to talk about it or showcase it, there is a fake reality that still exists,” she says. “That’s something as a director and producer that I would like to push—I want to shoot older people, disabled people, diverse genders, and very dark skin and show that it doesn’t lessen the value or quality of the shoot or images, to the contrary, I think it elevates it. I think it’s really important to prove to the industry and to magazines and to brands that everybody can own a beauty shoot and be as good as Karlie Kloss and sell the shit out of a product.” 

Photographer: Lauren Loncar
Model/Director: Clémentine Desseaux
Art Director/Producer: Les Mijotés
Makeup Artist: Joseph Carrillo
Hairstylist: Brittan White
Manicurist: Ada Yeung
Stylist: Eryka Clayton

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