The roving It girl refuses to pick just one city or just one occupation. Instead, the divine Miss Dayan shares
her fearless style and spirit in film, design, and art from Paris to New York to L.A.
Born in France and based for the moment in New York, coquettish beauty Rebecca Dayan doesn’t stay in one place for long. And her meandering heart has led her to pursue—and prosper at—a range of creative endeavors. Since starting out on her own in Paris at the age of 18, Dayan, now 30, has worked as a model, being photographed by the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Peter Lindbergh; a designer, assisting Gabrielle Greiss at Sonia Rykiel; an actress, most recently starring in the much-acclaimed indie film H, which made its world premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival; and an artist, painting watercolor portraits that were published in L’Officiel Hommes. Here, the perennial wanderer discusses her Eloise-like childhood, the trip that captured her imagination, and where she’s headed next.
The Suite Life
I was born in Montpellier, in the south of France, but my parents moved soon thereafter to Saint-Paul de Vence, which is a tiny village not far from Nice. My grandfather had built a hotel for my mom and dad to take care of, and we lived there from when I was one to six years old, and then again for a couple years when I was a teenager. It was fun because I always had new friends to play with when guests came with their children. And when I was older, we’d all steal the liquor from the minibars.
East of Eden
Years ago I took a trip with a boyfriend to Southeast Asia. We spent three months traveling through China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand... When I first landed in Shanghai, I was completely lost in translation. But when you start out on the road, all your worries and anxiety go away; the only thing you concern yourself with is where are you’re going to sleep and what you’re going to eat. It’s hard to say what was my favorite place—everything was so special. Beijing was just beautiful with the Great Wall. Afterwards, we took a 27-hour train ride to south China and the rice fields, playing cards the whole way. We traveled down the coast of Vietnam, and in Cambodia, we stayed at a friend’s house built on stilts in a Khmer village outside Angkor Wat. There was no water or electricity, and it was amazing being so removed. It was strange when we returned to Paris. The first night back we were at a club with friends, and I was thinking, Two days ago I was sleeping in the jungle in Thailand with huge spiders. I wanted to go back.
On the Road Again
I haven’t lived anywhere since last November. I still have my apartment in New York, but my cousin is staying in it. I was in L.A. for much of last year and France this summer. I think I may move to L.A., but I’m not sure. It’s hard for me to settle. A part of me wants a house with all my books and stuff, and another part wants nothing—just a few clothes tossed in a suitcase.
I hung out at Bemelmans Bar after Hurricane Sandy. Everyone just ended up gathering there and getting drunk during that week when the power went out. I remember it was Halloween, and a friend of mine arrived in a blow-up sumo wrestler costume. It was a funny night, despite all the complaining about having no electricity. I was like, Please there are people who lost their homes; you're hanging out at The Carlyle sipping bellinis!
Photography Paul Maffi, Styling Alban Roger, Makeup Tracy Alfajora, Hair Laura de Leon