A Shared Love Of Red Lipstick Convinced Jeanne Damas She Was Right To Play Paloma Picasso

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When French designer Jeanne Damas’s agent called her a year ago to propose an acting role—a career-defining acting role, no less—she politely declined. Her brand, Rouje, was going from strength to strength. She didn’t do drama anymore. Her agent persisted and the notion of the part—a starring role as Paloma Picasso in Disney+’s Becoming Karl Lagerfeld—began to percolate in Damas’s mind. She relented and did a screen test; the casting team loved the red-lipped businesswoman who stood before them.

Aside from Picasso’s own signature cherry pout (the artist was committed to Revlon’s Certainly Red and Love That Red, and later launched her own Mon Rouge line with L’Oréal), and the vague recollection of a perfume ad in the ’80s (the Paloma scent for L’Oréal was so successful it became its own body care line), Damas knew little about the woman she would embody on the small screen. She bought two books—The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake and Raphaelle Bacque’s Kaiser Karl: The Life of Karl Lagerfeld—and immersed herself in the world of ’70s fashion – the jumping off point for the new series. What she uncovered was a true original – a trailblazer who was determined not to live in the shadow of her parents, the French artists Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot, but to forge her own path at first designing jewellery, then later dabbling in scent.

Jeanne Damas as Paloma Picasso.

Caroline Dubois – Jour Premier – Disney

Jeanne Damas at Cannes this year.

JOEL SAGET/Getty Images

“She used fashion and beauty to play and define who she is,” recalls Jeanne, who found parallels between Paloma’s flea market wardrobe of ’40s dresses and the retro-leaning pieces produced by Rouje, which majors in quintessential French-girl style. Playing a firm fixture in the fashion industry, like Damas herself who is in Scotland for the Dior Cruise 2025 show when we speak, would not be such an insurmountable mountain to climb after all.

Jeanne found her way in via Paloma’s beauty essential—“a red lip is a way to hide yourself, but also show who you are—it’s quite contradictory,” notes Damas, and marvelled at the vibrant socialite’s ability to transcend the fashion politics of the day: “When you were friends with Karl Lagerfeld, you couldn’t be friends with Yves Saint Laurent, but Paloma was friends with both of them. She was an important person.”

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