When picking a classic Hollywood icon to obsess over, most women tend to gravitate towards Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn, probably because they have the best quotes to hang up in the form of a poster in one’s dorm room.
While I’ll admit to being a huge Audrey Hepburn fan (I’m such a cliche!), my number one film idol is Jean Seberg. I have seen her in only one role: Patricia, the woman who betrays her criminal lover in Jean Luc Godard’s French New Wave film Breathless. That was enough to start a lifelong obsession with looking exactly like her.
Her look in that movie is everything to me: the super-short blonde pixie, the perfect little cat-eye flicks, the adorable mole under her eye, and striped everything. By the time my boyfriend first introduced me to this movie in college, I was already obsessed with pixie cuts and stripes. He knows me well.
Besides setting off a year-long debate over whether I should dye my hair blonde, the movie also awakened in me a desire to perfect my cat-eye technique. Unfortunately, my cat-eye technique was nonexistent at that point because it had never occurred to me to even try it. I know, it’s like I had never been on the Internet!
Four years and many Breathless viewings later, I still have the pixie cut, I have an even bigger striped shirt collection, and I can... sorta do a cat eye. It’s taken me a lot of practice to get to this point. I think everyone agrees that this is one of the hardest makeup techniques to master, but next to the hair, her eyeliner is the most important part of the look. So breathe and relax, because you can’t do this with your hand trembling.
First of all, you need the right tools. After spending way too long using pencil and liquid eyeliners, I finally realized the error of my ways and bought some gel eyeliner. Everyone has their preference when it comes to eyeliner, so you do what works for you, but personally, I’ve found that gel liner goes on much more smoothly. That makes all the difference to me.
I use Maybelline EyeStudio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner and it comes with its own brush, which is... fine, I guess. It’s handy if you don’t already own a brush and you don’t want to have to remember to buy that too. HOWEVER. When the pressure is on and you need to have your cat eye look as good as Jean Seberg’s, you absolutely need to apply your eyeliner with an angled brush.
I got the Angled Eyeliner Brush from e.l.f for $3 at my local Target because they are my number-one source for cheap, reliable makeup. I don’t care where you get yours from, but do not even bother trying to do your cat-eye without an angled brush. Since it’s, um, all angled and everything, it’s perfect for controlling the exact shape and direction of flick that you want at the end, and makes it way easier to get into that weird cranny between your eye and nose.
Once you’ve got the cat eye mastered, there’s little else to do to recreate this look. I used my L’Oreal True Match foundation to mimic her flawless skin and added some e.l.f. Clarifying Pressed Powder on top for a matte look.
I added some definition towards the beginning of my brows (hers become lighter as they go outwards) with a brow pencil and added a little shine just to my lips and cheekbones with Vaseline. Is that weird? I can’t be the only one who does that; it’s cheap and effective.
Finally, recreate her little beauty mark using your brow pencil or eyeliner or a even Sharpie if you want, cause you’re not going to wash it off. It’s weirdly sexy.
I did all of this other stuff before applying the eyeliner. I personally like to do my eyeliner last; that way, I don’t smear it while applying foundation.
Keep in mind that in the film, Jean’s eyeliner was fairly thick on her eyelids and then thinner as it winged outwards in an almost horizontal line. Just a faint upward tilt is all that’s needed; nothing too thick or dramatic. No mascara, and keep eyeliner below the eyes light and at the outer edges only.
Even with the help of the gel eyeliner and the angled brush, I still found myself having to do a very thick wing first in the general shape that I wanted. Then I took a q-tip dipped in coconut oil (or any makeup remover of your choice) and gently dabbed away at each wing until I was satisfied.
Add a striped shirt, and that’s it! Of course, if you have short blonde or even light brown hair, you already have half the battle won when it comes to channeling Jean Seberg.
If you have longer hair, I suggest parting it above the middle of one eyebrow and drawing it into a tight, low ponytail. Alternatively, you could throw it into a bun and hide it under a fedora similar to the one she wears. Or just cut it--short hair is so much fun.
Now I need to re-watch Breathless for the millionth time in a row and practice the one phrase of French that I’ve learned from it. (Je suis tres fatigue!) Promise me that you’ll watch it, too, if you haven’t seen it already!