Helene Kuhn (an actress we love) on what makes her heart flutter

Parisian actress and rising star Helene Kuhn caught our eye recently for her cleverly eclectic approach to getting dressed. (What can we say? We’re Francophiles with a soft spot for girls who do the skirt-and-brogues thing.) When we hung out with Kuhn in her hometown, she brought along a case full of sweetly sentimental keepsakes that we soon learned weren’t just props. She puts her outfits together as some might scrapbook, and getting dressed every day is a little expression of love. While she had run of the Madewell closet, Kuhn talked to us about the mix of things that inspire her. Check out her personal style motto and must-have travel pants, then take a spin through some of her (and our!) fall favorites at My Madewell.

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What is the best style advice you ever received?

That it’s important to put a little extra effort in, to have at least one thing in an outfit to make you feel unique. [I have a pair of] vintage shoes that are my mother’s—she wore them in her twenties, so they feel special to me.

What is your personal style motto?

Something like, “Your clothes shouldn’t define you.” I think it’s obvious when people try too hard. It’s important to dress so you feel like yourself—no one else.

Is there a particular article of clothing that travels with you everywhere you go?

I love my leather pants. I wear them every season, like a second skin. I also always carry a silk foulard to wear in my hair or around my neck. I used to steal my mother’s silk scarves and use them as belts, and it just feels very beautiful and classic, but also quite bold and edgy. An edgy, bold classic. [Laughs.]

Do you have a style icon?

All of Fellini’s actors; I’m really such a fan of their style and of his whole world in and out of film. I’m really attracted to and moved by the ambiances that he created.

What’s the last thing you’d ever be caught dead wearing?

Honestly, there’s really nothing. I would love to try anything, everything once…especially if it’s for an amazing role.

What’s your favorite look from our Madewell shoot?

I love the coat; it’s supercool and a little rock ’n’ roll. I also loved the red sweater look. It’s been my dream to find that perfect red statement piece.

You brought a few paperbacks with you on our shoot. Would you say that you’re a bit of a bookworm?

Yes, the books in the photos are all mine. My father gave them to me, each with a handwritten message. They are my most precious possessions.

Any other pieces that are close to your heart?

I write everything in a Moleskine—in a dream world, I’d direct those writings. I also carry a camera since photographs are like my visual diary.