A quiet evening in with actress, singer and domestic goddess Joséphine de la Baume.
"I am interested in androgyny,” says Joséphine de la Baume, curled up on the sofa in a tiny hotel in Notting Hill. This comes as something of a surprise — at 5ft 3in, with smouldering green eyes and the curves of a Parisian Jessica Rabbit, de la Baume is all woman. She’s referring to fellow actresses, however. “Jeanne Moreau, Lauren Bacall, they had this unconventional beauty, this amazing charisma.”
Acting is just one of de la Baume’s passions — she appeared in Julian Fellowes’ Titanic, and is currently filming ITV drama Mr Selfridge, with Jeremy Piven as the retail magnate. She models, too — her 2011 Agent Provocateur campaign, featuring a sultry de la Baume being spied on in a hotel room while clad in stockings and suspenders, prompted AP’s creative director Sarah Shotton to announce, “Joséphine oozes sex.”
And, on top of that, there’s the music. SingTank, the project she started with her brother Alexandre, has attracted a burgeoning fan-base (and a Warner Music record deal). She writes the lyrics, he writes the music and the result — their debut album, In Wonder — is a dreamy, melodious pop record produced by Nellee Hooper, previously a collaborator with Björk and Massive Attack.
“The record is very much about the imaginary,” says de la Baume, “about people that are lost in between their dreams and reality. It’s a state that my brother and I always feel a little bit like we’re in.”
It’s easy to understand why the vivacious multi-tasker might exist in a dream-like state. She is constantly flitting between London and Paris — “so I’m kind of living on the Eurostar at the moment” — and shares her West London home with her husband, music producer and DJ Mark Ronson, who could be anywhere in the world on any given day of the week (he calls from New York during our interview).
When together, they stay in. “We’re movie geeks,” says de la Baume, “we’ll sit and watch Paul Mazursky films for, like, nine hours.” And their home life is sweetly domestic; during the Esquire photo shoot, a few days before our interview, Ronson phones to complain he’s been locked in the house, and needs to get out to walk the dog.
Sex symbol, singer, actress, it’s impossible to fit Joséphine de la Baume into one category, which is exactly how she likes it. “You don’t have to be just an object of desire,” she says. “You can transcend that.”
SingTank’s debut album In Wonder is out now;
Photography by Greg Williams
Styling by Catherine Hayward
Words by Max Olesker