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Meet Cecilia Bönström, the creative mind behind French label Zadig&Voltaire. Sweden-born and Paris-based, the label’s Artistic Director is the ultimate Zadig&Voltaire woman, radiating an effortless, understated style with a rock’n’roll underpinning. The former model has been praised for pivoting the cult French label away from weekend-centric separates and into a hard-working wardrobe edit that works for all occasions, and all days of the week — all without losing that signature Zadig&Voltaire edge.

Zadig&Voltaire Artistic Director Cecilia Bönström. Image by Alexandre Tabaste

Here, The Style Sheet sits down with Cecilia to find out more about her journey to Zadig&Voltaire’s artistic helm, juggling family and work life, and the best advice she’s been given.

1. How would you describe the heart of Zadig&Voltaire?

Timeless pieces with a unique nonchalant-chic style, made for active women around the world.

2. You were born in Sweden and have been living in Paris since you were 18. What’s the biggest difference between Scandi and French style?

The French style uses more colors than Swedish — and more fantasy and sexiness.

3. You have an impressive career, moving quickly from Zadig&Voltaire assistant to Artistic Director. What career advice would you give women who look up to you?

My advice is very personal, but I really believe in it, and that is to stay focused on who you are. Work on your own talents and try always to do better, instead of comparing yourself to others. You also need to work really hard and not to be afraid to start from scratch — in fact, when you start from scratch you have the time to become mature and grow while learning. Then you know every step, so nobody can make you lose your balance.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Never look back, but always move forward.

5. You’re a working mum. Any tips for juggling a career and a family?

There will always be moments of frustration and feeling like you’re not doing everything perfectly, but I try to really concentrate on being in the present.  When I’m with my children I let go of my phone and professional obligations and I enjoy the moment, and while I’m at work, I’m so focused that I almost forget I’m a mother.

Zadig&Voltaire Fall Winter 2022 collection

6. What do you think are the most essential pieces in a hard-working wardrobe?

The most important pieces in the Zadig&Voltaire wardrobe are pieces that you can easily assemble in different ways and that work from day to night, which are feminine and masculine and chic and effortless at the same time.

7. Any specific examples?

A white T-shirt, a black round-neck cashmere sweater and a leather skirt. With these pieces you can never go wrong.

8. What about accessories? 

Add some good jewellery and a nice handbag.

9. What achievement are you most proud of at Zadig&Voltaire?

What I’m most proud of is my personal style, which I got from my mother, and my personal life experience which, without fashion school, has become an international style that is now recognisable in the fashion world. This translates through pieces such as my silk lace camisole worn with masculine tailoring in soft fabrics.

10. What’s your typical daily style uniform?

A pair of jeans, a T-shirt with a blazer and our white High Flash sneakers.

11. We love your Le Cecilia bag! What are the three things you always have inside?

Lip gloss, my headphones and my notebook for ideas.

12. What do you think is the most underrated accessory?

Hats — they give you style and protect you from the sun.

13. Do you have any summer holiday plans?

I’ll be renting a super simple house for a week in Antiparos, Greece, with my three sons, and will just enjoy being in the present.

Zadig&Voltaire Fall Winter 2022 collection

14. Before Zadig&Voltaire, you were an international model, so we bet you have some great packing skills! What’s your top packing tip?

Prepare everything well in advance, and always decide exactly what you’re going to wear with what — for example, the top you’ll wear in the evening with a skirt and could fit the next day with a pair of shorts. It’s like a puzzle. I like to always be well dressed but travel with a small suitcase. I also use miniature bottles for beauty.

15. What do you always have with you on a long flight? 

Since my modelling years I’ve always taken a big pashmina scarf, in case the air conditioning on the plane is too strong, plus a pair of socks and an extra T-shirt and toothbrush, in case my suitcase disappears.

16. What city has the best street style?

For me, New York City.

17. What country is your favourite for inspiration?

I can find inspiration anywhere in the world, but I’d say that Japan is a great source.

18. Which Zadig&Voltaire pieces do you find your Hong Kong customers gravitate towards the most?

Our printed dresses and our masculine blazers.

19. What are your favourite three accounts to follow on Instagram?

The Business of Fashion, @fitmethods and The World from a Window.

20. What’s your life motto?

Smile and the world will smile with you.