Marie Steiss—née Marie de Villepin—has bona fides any of her fellow Euro socials would kill for. The daughter of the former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin, Marie modeled for seasons using the name Steiss, gracing runways for DVF, Catherine Malandrino, and Givenchy and eventually becoming the face of Givenchy’s Ange ou Demon fragrance.
Her absence from recent runways can be attributed to other irons in the fire—lots of them. The 24-year-old actress recently donned a spacesuit for the new art-house film Baikonur. In it, de Villepin plays a tourist wealthy enough to spend $20 million for a week in outer space, who then falls from the sky and embarks on an amnesia-induced cross-cultural romance. The part involved weeks of training at Star City outside Moscow and the Cosmodrome centrifuge in Kazakhstan, zero gravity flights, and diving bells—an adventure the actress rapturously describes as “intense”—not to mention packing on an extra few kilos (director’s orders!) for her big love scene.
Back on planet Earth, when she’s not zipping around the globe to events like the Busan film festival in Korea, de Villepin works with her band PinkMist, whose name was lifted from a gruesome military term. Their sound, she says, is “tricky, sort of dense and layered, like some Velvet Underground or the Feelies.” There, too, she is nearing liftoff, with concerts in Paris and London early next year as well as a gig lined up for London fashion week.
But she’s not dropping “Steiss” or exiting modeling just yet. Shoots are in the works with Steve Hiett and David Hamilton, and she’s in negotiations for a major contract. And although for now her whole world boils down to a suitcase and her guitar, increasingly New York looks like home, not least thanks to her brand-new apartment. “I prefer New York to Paris,” she says. “Maybe it’s like Roland Barthes says, travelers who love foreign places more than their home towns prefer the ‘other’ in themselves. For me, New York is about Patti Smith, the Factory, and the Chelsea Hotel. I feel freer living among New York’s ghosts.”
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