The mag­i­cal world of St­effy and Jill Bauwens of The Kooples.

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents - By LUCY HALFHEAD Pho­tographed by SO­PHIE CARRÉ

Sit­ting in the sun­shine in Saint-ger­main, one of the most de­sir­able ad­dresses in Paris, Jill and St­effy Bauwens are dis­cussing the mer­its of their quartier.the stylish sib­lings are joint creative di­rec­tors of the French fash­ion la­bel The Kooples and seem to have a pen­chant for fin­ish­ing each other’s sen­tences. “We love this area be­cause it’s like a vil­lage in the heart of Paris, with the best butcher and bak­ery in the city,” Jill says as she pours glasses of lemon­ade.we are talk­ing on the leafy ter­race of her town­house, which she shares with her hus­band, tim, and their 21-month-old baby girl, Norma. “And when you’re here, it feels like you’re in the coun­try­side,” con­cludes St­effy, who lives in a flat just around the cor­ner.

Jill and her hus­band bought their apart­ment in 2013, but they didn’t move in for three years, un­til the renowned French ar­chi­tect and in­te­rior de­signer Joseph Di­rand had fin­ished an ex­ten­sive re­design. “We ba­si­cally had to de­stroy ev­ery­thing to re­move the mez­za­nine floor,” Jill says, “all the while main­tain­ing a Parisian feel. It was im­por­tant to keep the pan­elling and the beau­ti­ful ma­te­ri­als like the mar­ble in the bath­rooms and in the kitchen, and the orig­i­nal fire­places.” Against this sleek back­drop, there is an im­pres­sive dis­play of art and fur­ni­ture that the cou­ple have sourced from auc­tion houses and flea mar­kets such as Les Puces de Saint-ouen. as well as mag­nif­i­cent ceil­ing lamps from Sar­fatti, there are pieces from the ’50s and ’60s, in­clud­ing Pierre Jean­neret chairs and a huge Le Cor­bus­ier stone lamp, mixed with con­tem­po­rary touches, such as Jill’s bed, which is by Rick Owens.the sis­ters are as chic as their sur­round­ings: St­effy is wear­ing head-to-toe black, set­ting off her flame-red hair, while Jill is dressed with ca­sual el­e­gance in vin­tage Levi’s, Olivier Theyskens boots and a square-shoul­dered Kooples jacket.

The pair has been per­fect­ing this stylish dou­ble act since their child­hood in Brass­chaat, An­twerp, where St­effy was

“I started read­ing about Coco Chanel when I was six years old. I was in­trigued by her per­son­al­ity.”

– St­effy Bauwens

born in Jan­uary 1989 and Jill fol­lowed in the De­cem­ber of the same cal­en­dar year. “So we are what you call Ir­ish twins,” Jill says, “but we also have the same star sign, which is rare.” A mu­tual love of fash­ion emerged dur­ing their teenage years, though they had some­what dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions. “I was very into denim and jersey,” Jill muses. “also any­thing to do with the ’90s — I loved the Spice Girls. My sis­ter was the to­tal op­po­site.” “I started read­ing about Coco Chanel when I was six years old,” St­effy says. “i was in­trigued by her per­son­al­ity from a very young age. And then I be­came ob­sessed with uni­forms. I dressed my­self se­verely, in blaz­ers and pleated skirts, long socks and patent shoes.” Jill agrees: “St­effy was dif­fer­ent from all the rest, like she was go­ing against the cur­rent.”

At 17, Jill was scouted in An­twerp by the Bel­gian stylist Tom­van Dorpe and signed up with Ford Mod­els in New York. “he ba­si­cally had to push me to pur­sue a mod­el­ling ca­reer be­cause it was al­ways my dream to be­come a plas­tic sur­geon,” Jill re­calls. St­effy, mean­while, went to Paris, where she en­rolled in the fash­ion busi­ness course at the French out­post of the fa­mous Isti­tuto Marangoni. But the sis­ters didn’t have to main­tain a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship for too long. Hav­ing mod­elled for Olivier Theyskens at Nina Ricci, Jill formed a close re­la­tion­ship with the de­signer, so when an op­por­tu­nity came up to as­sist with the launch of the Theyskens’ The­ory brand, she rec­om­mended her sis­ter for the job. “st­effy was still in school, but Olivier met her, and it was love at first sight,” Jill says. St­effy elab­o­rates: “I was his but­ter­fly — I was fly­ing all over the place do­ing ev­ery­thing from fab­ric con­sul­ta­tions to show fit­tings and sales.”

In 2012, the sis­ters re­turned to Paris, where St­effy took up a roll at Maje, and they be­gan con­sult­ing for a num­ber of brands to­gether. “we have al­ways been a duo, re­ally. Even when I was mod­el­ling, St­effy was there sup­port­ing me in the back­ground,” Jill says. Af­ter a serendip­i­tous meet­ing with the equally fash­ion­able sib­lings who founded The Kooples —

French broth­ers Alexan­dre, Lau­rent and Raphaël Elicha — Jill and St­effy came on­board as joint creative di­rec­tors. Over the past four years, they have in­tro­duced a new fresh­ness and fem­i­nin­ity to the Parisian-street-chic aes­thetic by ex­per­i­ment­ing with a wide range of fab­rics, colours and an­i­mal prints.the sis­ters are also re­spon­si­ble for se­lect­ing muses and, af­ter a suc­cess­ful col­laboration with the model Emily Rata­jkowski, they picked Stella Maxwell and Irina Shayk for the up­com­ing sea­son. “We were at­tracted by their in­trin­sic style,” Jill says. “Stella is more rock’n’roll, al­most non­cha­lant ...” “A bit more an­drog­y­nous, but re­ally pretty,” St­effy in­ter­jects. “and then we have this sexy bomb­shell, Irina, who is a mother, and more grown-up, in a way.”

When it comes to their own style, the Bauwens com­ple­ment each other per­fectly. “Gen­er­ally, you could say I like slightly dark fash­ion,” St­effy says. “I am re­ally ex­cited to see what’s go­ing to hap­pen at Ce­line with Hedi Sli­mane be­cause I think he did a great job at Saint Lau­rent. I also love Ba­len­ci­aga, acne, Margiela and clas­sic Chanel.” “we like to mix and match,” Jill adds. “Ob­vi­ously, we love the Bel­gian de­sign­ers — Olivier Theyskens and Ann De­meule­meester — as well as Haider Ack­er­mann. Speak­ing for my­self, I al­ways throw th­ese to­gether with vin­tage pieces to com­plete my look. Old and new, pre­vi­ous and de­stroyed — it’s all about find­ing the right bal­ance,” she con­cludes, smil­ing at her sis­ter.

The sis­ters in the study, wear­ing The Kooples and their own clothes (as through­out). Right, and be­low: de­tails in Jill’s apart­ment.

Above: the sis­ters in the kitchen. Be­low: the liv­ing room doors open out onto the gar­den.

Left: an Irina bag from The Kooples. Right: a taxi­dermy flamingo from Dey­rolle.

Above left: the en­trance to the apart­ment. Right: St­effy tries on a look. Left: Jill’s Rick Owens bed. Be­low right: Gucci slip­pers.

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