Having grown up in Ghent, Emma recently moved to Paris to pursue a calling that she could no longer resist; she enrolled at Le Cours Florent to fully immerse herself in acting. It’s the story of a smart and ambitious young woman exploring the City of Lights, seeing things through a Belgian lens.
When Belgian and Japanese styles meet in Paris, you’re in for a treat. Combining elegance with an urban flair was the idea here and that’s where OrSlow comes in. Emma mixed their loose, premium nylon skirt with a feminine, close to romantic blouse, only to inject a dose of denim attitude with the one wash chore jacket.
Was moving to Paris an easy decision to make?
The decision was quite spontaneous, although, when I think about it, it only makes sense because Paris is home to some great drama schools and French cinema occupies an important place in the global film industry. I was simply curious about and attracted to the French theatre & film universe and really wanted to explore acting in here.
Can you trace back your passion for acting and theatre? Has it always been there?
I’ve always felt a need to express myself, be it with or without words. As a kid, I would act out imaginary scenarios with my brother even though he didn’t always like that (laughs). I once tied a scarf around his neck and pretended I was going for a walk with my dog and dragged him everywhere around the house (laughs). Every Wednesday after school I attended diction classes, which introduced me to word play and expression, and that’s where I realized I loved performing. During university, I took evening acting classes and participated in a short-film, but it’s been only one year since I’m practicing it fulltime.
Are there are movies that made a lasting impact on you or that pushed you in this direction?
There are a few. Firstly, “Come and See” by Elem Klimov, which is the closest I’ve ever been to feeling and understanding the reality of WW2, some of its scenes will stay with me forever. I just landed my first role in a war movie and this film is a brilliant albeit atrocious reference. I’ll also never forget my first Kubrick experience, through his film “Barry Lyndon” which borders on cinematic perfection. Lastly, I was blown away by Gena Rowlands’ performance in “A Woman Under the Influence”. It is one of my favorite movies by one of my favourite film couples: John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands.
Would you say that being Belgian helps you stand out as an actress?
I’d say so, because as a Belgian you can offer features that other French actors/actresses are less likely to have. For example, I’m perfectly trilingual, which is not the case for most French actors. That’s why I’m often offered castings for an English-speaking or Nordic-accent role. My looks evoke different origins too. Some see me as the stereotype Parisienne, some as the Scandi girl with blonde hair and light skin and others as la petite Anglaise, so I’m offered castings for both “local” and “foreign” roles. But let me tell you, I can be much more than that (laughs).
Is there such a thing like a typical day for you in Paris?
Sure. I wake up, have a croissant with a cup of coffee at le Café des Flores, smoke a cigarette, take my scooter and go to work. And then I have cheese and wine with a baguette in the evening (laughs). No, just kidding. I usually wake up at 7.30, go to drama school and have classes from 9 to 12. Then, I’ll go for lunch with my classmates, after which we rehearse our scenes for next class. In the afternoon, I either have another class, or I go home and read theatre pieces or method acting books or watch a movie because there’s still so much stuff out there that I need to discover! And this all feeds my performance on stage or during an audition. My evening activities include going for a drink, seeing a play, working for a catering service and chilling with my boyfriend and/or friends.
If you could pick one director you’d love to work with, who would that be?
Quentin Tarantino. I’m always a big fan of his female characters and I admire his devotion to filmmaking. He seems to be a bit geeky in that aspect and I love that. I have the greatest respect for people like that. Jean-Luc Godard is another director I would have loved to work with, because of the way he directs his actors – the outcome is always very natural and authentic. He didn’t want his actors to play, but rather to be.
It’ll come as no surprise that this silhouette was Emma’s favorite.
“I like Tomboy looks and often prefer wearing men’s clothes, I found this silhouette to be comfortable and laid back”, she says and we can see why. Take a comfy, cream Lee overall, combine it with our soft, navy blue Datti sweater and all that’s left to do is adding some accessories. Bellerose socks, a cool checked bob and a handy, large multi-color bum bag in this case.
In more general terms, whom are the women that inspire you on a daily basis?
At the moment I have great admiration for a modern hero: Greta Thurnberg, and I’m not the only one. What she does requires so much strength and resilience, and that inspires me. I also really look up to is my mom. I’ve come to realize that she’s the indispensable building block in our “household construction” – if you remove her, the whole thing falls apart (laughs). I also love her style and elegance. In film, actresses such as Michelle Pfeiffer in “Scarface”, Uma Thurman in “Kill Bill”, Gwyneth Paltrow in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and the list goes on.
How’s being Belgian in Paris? Do you feel Parisian already?
I think, in general, Belgians are fairly appreciated by Parisians, because of our multicultural background and open-mindedness. I definitely feel good in Paris; I feel close to its culture and lifestyle. As a native French speaker, it’s also easier to blend in. But I proudly remain 100% Belgian inside. I kindly remind Parisians of that when confusing them with words like nonante, GSM, kot, d’office and à tantôt.
Jeans are always a great point of conversation. Emma likes hers to be straight and slightly oversized, with a thick and rigid fabric. Her go-to brand is Levi’s so it only makes sense that she included their popular Rib Cage straight fit in an authentic stone wash in her final look. We paired those with our oversized Ink shirt for contrast, plus a hard-to-resist Patagonia retro fleece. Comfort is key in this stylish tourist type of silhouette.
What are your 5 favorite places in the city right now?
Currently, I’d say: le Mary Celeste in le Marais for a cocktail, Headless and Celia Darling in Pigalle for vintage shopping, le Musée des Archives Nationales for a hidden reading spot, Rolls in the 2nd Arrondissement for a fresh and delicious lunch on the go and, finally, Takaramono in the 10th Arrondissement for a cool dinner.
Do you miss anything from back home?
I miss my family and friends! I miss the country- and seaside for a breath of fresh air. I miss the small traveling distances to get there. And also, Kwatta chocolate sprinkles.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Bellerose?
Bellerose and I go way back! I was definitely already wearing Bellerose as a little kiddo. I have a very clear memory in mind, which was when my bestie and I - we must have been around 10 - decided to match outfits at school and wore the exact same Bellerose outfit from head to toe and felt so cool (laughs).
How would you describe the way you dress?
I don’t really have a specific style. I do know that I tend to lean more towards masculine looks rather than feminine looks. You’ll rarely see me in a dress or skirt with high heels. I’m more of a suit with an oversized t-shirt and sneakers kinda girl. I’m increasingly going back to basics: shirts, t-shirts, sweaters, jeans and a pair of sneakers. Minimalism is my thing. I also became a very conscient buyer, meaning I quit buying fast fashion altogether and I drastically reduced my clothing purchases. I buy less, but better.
Our own Poker has been our go-to pair of denim for a while now. High rise, flared legs, dark rinse – no frills but super effective. Here, Emma wears them with a similarly dark, collarless Sarahwear coat in felt wool. Comparable tones, but a very different fabric: a trick that always works. For contrast – and warmth – we added a cream colored turtleneck sweater, but what makes this one stand out is its cropped shaped and subtle red contrasts.
Pictures : Alex Socks
Words : Bjorn Dossche