“I know this sounds so Miss France of me,” says actress Lëila Bekhti, making light of the fact that she’s quoting 17th-century French moralist Jean de la Bruyère, “but there’s a shame in being happy when you see a certain kind of misery.” The 26-year-old French beauty born of Algerian roots is referring to one of the first petit boulots (odd jobs) she took after high school, working with handicapped kids as part of an art-therapy group. “I couldn’t stop crying, so eventually I quit,” she admits, “and thought I’d end up doing nothing.” Instead, Bekhti’s older brother roped her into a part-time job at his clothing store and she decided to enroll in drama school. She made the usual rounds and walked into what would be the audition for her breakthrough role—in Kim Chapiron’s 2006 thriller Sheitan, opposite Vincent Cassel—after reading about the casting in a magazine. That’s where director, writer, and future co-star Géraldine Nakache spotted Bekhti before casting her in this year’s French hit Tout ce qui brille (All That Glitters). The film follows best friends Lila (Bekhti) and Ely (Nakache) from Puteaux, a humdrum suburb, to Andre Saraiva’s legendary Paris club Le Baron, where they sneak in to experience nightlife with the beautiful people. The girls end up pretending they live in the posh 16th arrondissement to fool their newfound friends. Clothes, or the astonishing similarity between H&M and high-fashion labels, are the centerpiece of thiscontemporary morality tale in which what counts is not who you are, but how you look. “For me the film is about how it feels always being 10 minutes away from something you’re striving for,” says Bekhti, But wearing the clothes doesn’t mean you have the life.”
Photo: Leïla Bekhti in Paris, July 2010. Dress: Balenciaga BY Nicolas Ghesquière. Bra and ring: Leïla’s OWN. Earrings: Cartier. Necklace and bracelets: Harry Winston. Hair products: Redken, including Real Control Slim Supreme. Fragrance: Balenciaga by Balenciaga. Styling: Ludivine Poiblanc/Management Artists. Hair: Yannick D’Is for Cutler/Redken/Management Artists. Makeup: Hannah Murray/Julian Watson Agency. Manicure: Cristina Conrad/Calliste Europe. Production: The Production Club. Stylist Assistant: Omaima Salem. Special Thanks: Chez Omar.