Mathilde Penault, french photo-model

Several newspapers (including us) have talked about the spectacular Fendi fashion show at the Trevi Fountain.

There has been talk of the Fendi anniversary, of the outfits, of Rome and of the plexy glass catwalk – but very few talked about the models (except for the over buzzed Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid).

It is a job that fascinates a bit ‘all, but at the same time is one of the most judged and undergoes many prejudices – so we decided to interview an everyday model to better understand her world bringing it closer to ours.

Her name is Mathilde Penault, a french photo-model from Bordeaux who mostly works in Paris.

If during the reading you want to give a glance to her work, you can find her on Facebook as Mademoiselle [M]–148909605152999/?pnref=lhc )




A few years ago your picture was spread around Paris for the Museum of Contemporary Art Palais de Tokyo’s exhibition Reflets. Did someone recognized you?


I have been recognized on the streets, yes… but only from friends and relatives! Either some old acquaintance or people I used to go out with some time ago, but no stranger stopped me to tell me: “Hey, I recognize you, you’re the one on the poster!”.
Actually it already seemed quite strange to me to find myself in front of my own face in the streets and in the Paris metro. It is an alienating feeling, you almost want to disappear into a hole to not get noticed!



After finishing a shooting, for how long does the hype (that strong feeling of euphoria) last?


Never too long! Being a model is like playing a character or a stranger: you play a role, there is a part of you but also a part of fiction. So when the work is done you can breathe a little ‘and get back to you. Usually when I get home I take off all the layers of makeup and make myself more comfortable, in pajamas or jumpsuit. If I have plans for the evening, it is fantastic being already coiffed and made up by professionals… so then you continue to feel the hype!



Can youkeep with youthe clothes orthe products you advertise?


No, it never happened to me to be said “Hey you can keep the dresses with you”. Usually they belong to the designers and they care a lot of them. It happened that they gifted me something but I do not remember what, nothing special. This is a kind of legend. Maybe they can offer you to be paid in dresses but I am not interested: a skirt or coat do not pay you shopping, evenings or trips.



Are you always on track with the “model’s diet” or the inclination to junk food is too strong?


Hahahahaha… I am absolutely not the right person to answer this question. My life is summed up in: eating eating eating. I love food, for the most fatty and sugary food. Vegetables, salads and soup? No thanks, they do not fill me at all: give me a salad and I will die of starvation after two hours! On the other hand I am not a runway model nor the best of a large agency. I have more freedom and I am free to decide for myself. Personally I never wanted to sacrifice anything to be a model: my body, my desires, my eating habits, my ideas and neither my life. I accept my size 38. To enter some larger agency they asked me to lose 8cm on the waist. I preferred to keep my 38 and the epicurean pleasure that procures food, because in all seriousness, rejecting a dinner with friends or at the restaurant or even drink with the excuse that you are on a diet … is not for me! The food is also a sign of social cohesion.



If one day you wake up and decide to shave off your hair, what do you risk? Who chooses your hairstyle?


Since I do not have an exclusive contract with one agency, I am free to do what I want with my hair: if tomorrow I decide to shave off my hair just because I want to, I can do that of course. Although this is not part of my projects, lol. But if one day I would be offered a paid job for 10.000€ to shave it off… well, I mean: the hair grows back. I have already accepted different cuts and colors… in this way it is almost 5 or 6 years that I do not need to set foot by the hairdresser!


Photographe : Elodie Tastet Photography. Makeu-up : Virginie Lipse. Stylisme : Zohra Akermi.


When you have to make provocative or very serious poses, does not it makes you laugh?


I remember my very first shooting and it did not make me laugh so much, I was totally nervous and focused at the same time. It is a strange feeling the first few times, when you have never really tried. Having to appear like a confident woman, beautiful and sensual. The head of my photo book suggested me to train in front of a mirror to develop various expressions… and there it was impossible to stay serious! Even now if you ask me as a joke to make a pose as a model, I could not maintain the seriousness and to do it without bursting into laughter. But at work is different: they ask you seriousness and professionalism, you can not laugh in front of them and say: “Do I really have to do so?”. No, you do what they are asking, although sometimes they do not realize that we are not robots… Then of course it also happened of not keeping a straight face during a photo session, especially if the team is cool and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed… many must have some compromising photos of mine somewhere!



Are you always with photographers, makeup artists and fashion personalities or you are able to live an ordinary life?


When you are a model you are inevitably brought to attend many fashion designers, photographers, makeup artists, hairdressers, etc. I made some good acquaintances: some have become good friends who I see regularly out of this environment. But in general, in my everyday life I am different: I have always the same friends for over 12 years, or friends from the university and basketball. I do not like a lot these labels that they give us: model, baker, unemployed or retired. I do not choose my friends based on their professional life, with me everything moves for a blow to the heart. Choosing between a quiet evening at home with all my friends, or an evening of rhinestones, sequins and alcohol with models and photographers in the fashion world… well, I choose without hesitation the first option!



Valentina Pizzi and Alessandra Sciarrino


Featured Image: Photographe by Elodie Tastet Photography. Makeu-up by Virginie Lipse. Stylisme by Zohra Akermi.