ON THE VERGE

Novitiate Actress Rebecca Dayan Loves David Bowie And Velvet Slippers, But Is Not Here for Pre-Ripped Jeans

The French actress, who plays a nun in her latest film, offers her style and beauty tips.


Photograph by Dominick Sheldon, Styled by Nora Milch; Makeup by Georgi Sandev for MAC at Streeters; Hair by Bok-Hee for Oribe at Streeters; Photography assistants: Tadakki Shibuya, Zane Shaffer, Jason Acton; fashion assistant: Jillian Farina; special thanks to Cafe Sabarsky at Neue Galerie.

There is little about Rebecca Dayan that suggests she would make a great nun. Effortlessly chic, she exudes the knowing worldliness that comes from a life spent following her artistic passions. And yet, in Margaret Betts’s debut feature film, Novitiate, opening this fall, Dayan is incredibly convincing as Sister Emanuel, one of a group of young female novices in the 1960s, who is confined both physically and emotionally. “I linked it to a craving of belonging and feeling worthy,” she explains of her character’s quest for divine acceptance. “I think anyone can relate to that need to feel love.” Dayan developed a devotion to acting and art as a child growing up first in the hotel her parents owned in Saint-Paul de Vence, a tiny town in the South of France, and then in Nice and Paris. (Eventually, she supplemented her painting and drama-school classes with modeling.) These days she toggles between New York and Los Angeles—and also between her chosen forms of expression, which sometimes overlap. Her 2015 exhibition “Assumption,” at Catherine Ahnell Gallery, in New York, featured watercolor portraits of friends like Tali Lennox and Lola Kirke garbed in nunlike veils. “I need the interaction of multiple disciplines to feel whole,” Dayan says. Here, the actress and artist shares her style and beauty tips.

Describe your style in three words: Eclectic and easy.

Favorite places to shop: In Paris, Pretty Box; in New York, Ritual Clothing and Doyle and Doyle; and in Los Angeles, Scout and Dream Collective.

Piece of clothing you’ve owned forever: My leather jacket; I’ve actually had it since I was 6-years-old.

Favorite pieces in your wardrobe: Vintage Levi’s 501 and a little diamond on a thin chain—my sister and I have the same [one], they came from my grandmother’s engagement ring and my mother had them mounted as a pendant for our birthdays.

Style icons: Patti Smith, David Bowie, and Françoise Hardy.

Best recent discovery: Filmstruck [a TCM streaming service].

Style pet peeve: When it feels forced and too styled.

Beauty pet peeve: Contouring.

Most recent purchase: My first home in New York City.

Currently lusting after: Furniture and plants for my apartment.

Go-to evening look: Same as day for the most part. I do like to dress up sometimes—make up stays the same, but I can go for a red lip or black eye liner or a sparkly eyeshadow.

Preferred footwear: Boots! And all kinds: low, high-heeled, flats.

Something you would never wear: Factory torn or ripped jeans.

Morning beauty routine: I wash my face with Ren face wash; spray rose water or orange blossom water; and put on La Mer gel cream and SuperGoop SPF 50—when I remember to, Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint and Dior Fix-It 2-in-1 Prime & Conceal, a bit of RMS Living Luminizer on my cheekbones, brush my eyebrows, and go.

What’s always in your bag: Phone, wallet, Dior Addict Lip Sugar Scrub, keys, and a set of dice.

Most underrated fashion and beauty items: Venetian velvet slippers and sweet almond oil.

Most overrated fashion and beauty items: Logos and sheet masks.

Best advice you’ve ever received: Less is more.

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