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20 + 20 Covers Project: Josephine De La Baume

The Agent Provocateur muse discusses mixing acting, modelling, singing and what her surname really means

Shot on grainy film, Agent Provocateur’s voyeuristic video footage of French bombshell, Josephine De La Baume modelling its lingerie became an Internet sensation last year, confirmed to the world what Mark Ronson already knows: that the 27-year old multihyphenate can really vamp it up. Apart from her wedding to Ronson in the fall; De La Baume will be inescapable over the next year, even to those who don’t read the daily tabloids. Her band, Sing Tank are releasing their debut album and she’s starring in a number of movies, most intriguing of which is a vampire film directed by Xan Cassavetes.

Dazed & Confused: Where does your surname come from?
Josephine De La Baume:
It’s from the South of France and in old French, it means “from the cavern” – not super sophisticated, pretty primal. 

D&C: What was your first start in the business?
Josephine De La Baume: When I was six years old, I did my school play – that was my first start!

D&C: How do you find mixing different disciplines – from acting, modelling and singing?
Josephine De La Baume: Everything that feels creative and fun feels fine and when it’s not creative, that’s when it should end. They are quite similar y’know – they are all about creating with other people. When you write a song, it’s like writing a diary in a way that when you open yourself to a character, it’s like stripping down. And modeling as well – it’s about that relationship with the photographer where you open a window and something secretive comes out. That’s when the picture starts being magical.

D&C: What music did you listen to growing up?
Josephine De La Baume: My parents listened to a lot of classical music. I grew up listening to Kate Bush and Serge Gainsbourg. Me and my brother were really influenced by Pulp, we really liked Pulp. My older brother played saxophone so I grew up listening to jazz. I play in a band called Sing Tank – he writes the music and we do the musical arrangements together. I think it’s quite pop with a bit of a dreamy touch and dark harmonies. Every time it feels a bit childish, it turns a bit ironic. It’s quite epic too.

D&C: Your look harks back to actresses from the past like Bridget Bardot
Josephine De La Baume: Thank you! Having a nice day now. Maybe it’s because I make you think of French actresses. I really loved Lauren Bacall – I liked women who were very feminine but were boys at heart. The androgynous look was always something I thought was very attractive. Lauren Bacall was super striking but at the same time she had this deep voice and she was a tomboy. Of course I loved Bridget Bardot – she was sexy you know but there was something quite shy in the eyes – it was quite charming.

D&C: Does it frustrate you being labeled an ‘it’ girl?
Josephine De La Baume: It used to really piss me off but it goes over my head now. It’s not a profession. I guess if people say that, maybe they mean they like my clothes. But of course if that’s the only thing someone says about you, it’s a little bit frustrating because I do so many things. I think it happens less and less to be honest.

D&C: How did it feel following on from Kate Moss’ footsteps to be the face of Agent Provocateur?
Josephine De La Baume: I was very flattered obviously – that must mean I can be sexy sometimes. It’s quite empowering actually. Some people get it wrong and they think it’s objectifying the women but it’s the opposite – it’s saying whatever you look like, you can feel comfortable in it. If you feel sexy, the pictures are going to look sexy, the underwear is going to look sexy. The people they pick aren’t only models – they have something special – they have a story. I was very proud to be picked.

D&C: This is Dazed’s 20th anniversary – what were you doing 20 years ago?
Josephine De La Baume: (laughs) probably eating Nutella tartines and getting C minus in school!

Photo Rankin
Styling Robbie Spencer
Hair Martin Cullen at Streeters
Make-up Lisa Houghton at Jed Root using Elizabeth Arden
Dress and shoes by Alexander McQueen