I was particularly looking forward to interviewing Anne Berest: she’s absolutely eloquent, charming, and contemporary. If you haven’t heard about her before, she just published a new book co-authored with her sister, Claire Berest, Gabriële, a book about their great grandmother who was not only the muse of Francis Picabia, an abstract painter, but also was a free thinker, had a really influential life, and was quite avant-garde. Anne’s first book, La Fille de son père, won the Goncourt Prize in 2010.

 

We sat down to talk, with her wearing a beautiful Chanel look and sporting a new haircut, looking better than ever.

 

You have accomplished a lot – why are you so driven, where do you think this ambition comes from?

It’s a childhood dream – I always wanted to be a writer. I believe that childhood wishes are pretty powerful when we let them guide us.

Are from a creative family?

My mom is a linguist at the university. We don’t have a writer in my family – we have painters, but my sister is also an author. I actually just wrote a book with her.

I know, that is quite impressive. How it is to be writing with your sister?

We actually had a lot of fun doing this. We did invent a world; it was really a game for us to write a book together and really I couldn’t have done this book with anyone else but her because there is such a strong bond.

And you are also an actress?

Well, not really, I just happen to have a lot of director friends and did some appearances in their films.  I really enjoy it, but I don’t think I could actually be an actresses.

Being an author and playing in movies, does it make you want to write feature films?

Well, I just wrote a series for Arté, that will air next year, and we actually work with a French Canadian artistic director. We are not used to working with a DA in France, but we work with Colombe Raby, who’s notorious for working with Xavier Dolan. It was an amazing experience; she brought a lot to our project.

What’s your thoughts on the Parisian cultural scene these days?

I think we are in a very unique moment. With all the new medium and platforms available, everything is changing. It’s a new era compared to the Paris of 10-15 years ago; today, everything is more open. For example, I’m an author and I write books, but I could also write a series and I could play in a movie and I could be interested in the haute couture. I like this idea that things today are much more open.

You are here today at the Chanel couture show – do you like fashion or do you like Chanel?

I love Chanel – it’s a house that has a really strong story, and obviously Karl Lagerfeld is an incredible man. He oversees everything. He sees and reads everything in three languages; he’s a man of culture and art, and for each of his shows, we can understand and recognize the cultural journey he took to achieve such a modern outlook on what the future should be. His process is a concentrate of the couture, and that’s what, as an author, really fascinates me. In fashion, we talk about style, in writing we also talk about style – there is some link in creation.

Since I spend most of my time working at home, it’s really great to come out sometimes and be immersed in all this beauty. We have to appreciate the amount of work that goes into a collection like the haute couture. All the work that is required for a single dress, that profoundly touches me.

I never read one of your books, but I will for sure read Gabriële, and what should be my second one ?

I’m recommending Recherche femme parfait; it’s a feminist comedy.

Can you describe for us your perfect Parisian evening?

Oh! The perfect Parisian night has to happen…  in a kitchen… with friends. We discuss everything: love, politics, kids. We smoke a lot of cigarettes, thinking we really got to quit smoking, while drinking some wine. Friendship, is the core of what we enjoy celebrating.

 

Anne is absolutely delightful, and she’s looking forward to her first visit to Canada. I hope someone will have the great sense to invite her soon!

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