Violette Serrat Is The Founder Putting The Fun Back Into Beauty

By Ashleigh Cometti
Violette Serrat, founder of Violette FR. Photo / Supplied

Violette FR founder Violette Serrat is translating the French girl aesthetic to everyone with her expressive, eponymous beauty brand.

It all started with a red rose.

Poetic but true, a then 8-year-old Violette Serrat was wandering through the Parisian rose garden Jardin Bagatelle where she saw for the first (and

“I was completely shell-shocked by the colour,” she says of the moment she committed the shade to memory all those years ago.

“I thought okay, one day I’ll make a lipstick exactly like this.”

She did, too, many moons later — selecting raw ingredients and hand blending a concoction herself to come up with a perfectly punchy rose-red. It was partially a case of not being able to find the shade she wanted, mixed with a lack of disposable income at the time. Today, it’s called Petal Bouche.

“I started to do makeup by pure accident,” Violette recalls of a late night where she was tasked to makeover two of her friends ahead of a costume party. She was 18 at the time.

“The philosophy of my brand started to be created inside of me without me knowing it,” she says.

It was a full-circle moment for Violette when she launched Petal Bouche, the lipstick she dreamed of creating after spotting a black red rose at Jardins Bagatelle. Photo / Supplied
It was a full-circle moment for Violette when she launched Petal Bouche, the lipstick she dreamed of creating after spotting a black red rose at Jardins Bagatelle. Photo / Supplied

For someone who admittedly fell into makeup, the New York-based, French-born makeup artist has amassed a cult following in the years since she launched her beauty brand Violette FR in 2021 — to the tune of 515,000 followers on Instagram, and 24 million views on YouTube.

As far as the French ‘cool girl’ aesthetic goes, Violette certainly fits the brief. She’s dialled in from a hotel room in Melbourne for our late afternoon Zoom call, donning a navy-blue liner, blush pink lips and bangs a la Jane Birkin, which she wears so well.

But rather than sit perched at a desk, she’s cross-legged on the floor and speaks with candour as she confesses something I’ve not heard from a brand founder before.

“I’m not really passionate about makeup, which really surprises people. But I’m really passionate about the power of it — what you can do with it,” Violette admits.

“I never wanted to be a makeup artist. I wanted to be an archaeologist or do business. Archaeology was my passion — I was obsessed with Lara Croft.”

A far cry from Tomb Raider, the École du Louvre fine arts alum funnelled 17 years of beauty expertise into multi-category beauty brand which burst onto the scene with a handful of products, extending it beyond colour cosmetics and into the realms of fragrance, haircare and skincare, the latter of which remains a best-seller.

Hers is a no-foundation, no-contour, no-fuss approach to makeup, instead focusing on perfected skin with flourishes of colour for eyes, lips and cheeks; a dust-on dry shampoo housed in a refillable case; and a roller-ball fragrance intended for pulse points.

Its Boum-Boum Milk, a hybrid liquid-cream spray, steps in to replace three skincare products in beauty cupboards — rebalancing like a toner, treating like a serum, and replenishing like a moisturiser. This isn’t the only multi-use product in the range, and Violette says her philosophy has always been to create products with purpose.

The objective was always to be different — to add to the market but not over-clutter it, cultivate a niche offering whilst remaining accessible. But it takes a significant amount of patience to do away with a product entirely if another brand beats you to it.

“I never want to oversell or push people to consume even more. If a product already exists, I don’t do it. If I’m developing a product and I see it on the market, I’m like: ‘Okay, forget about it, let’s not do it, it’s already here’,” she says. “There’s already enough on the market, you have to make something completely new, completely different, that’s unique and people really need.”

Violette leans into French beauty principles to inform the philosophy of her brand, like accentuating natural features, rather than attempt to conceal them. Photo / Supplied
Violette leans into French beauty principles to inform the philosophy of her brand, like accentuating natural features, rather than attempt to conceal them. Photo / Supplied

Violette FR is what Violette refers to as “street luxury”. The point is not to try too much, she tells me, not to fix or perfect but rather learning to enhance natural features.

“French beauty philosophy centres on making beauty healthy for you — it’s designed to empower the artist and the muse,” she says.

“Focus on being happy, focus on accepting who you are. That’s why we don’t have a foundation: we only focus on colours and amazing skincare and haircare,” she adds, self-categorising her brand as one that’s mental health driven.

Beauty to express every mood is what sets Violette FR apart, with the brand website inviting beauty arbiters to shop by their mood, whether that’s sensitive and tender, or confident and playful.

It homes in on the concept of mood-thinking, or the ability to tune into our emotions communicated through the art of applying makeup. The site invites the user to select a colour that makes them “vibrate” and pairs them with corresponding looks and curated products to help them tap into, boost or elevate their mood.

The idea came to Violette off the back of being surrounded by fabulous French women donning red lipstick growing up. “French women wear red lipstick to go buy groceries. It was never to seduce anyone, or perform anything, it was just for themselves,” she says. “It gave me the idea that makeup was to fit your mood, and not something to look different or anything.”

Violette wears Violette FR Yeux Paint Twinkling in the shade Bleu de Minuit. Photo / Supplied
Violette wears Violette FR Yeux Paint Twinkling in the shade Bleu de Minuit. Photo / Supplied

Violette failed to understand the hype around French beauty when she first moved to New York at age 19, but later came to realise its mass appeal.

“People were always focusing on the fact I was French. Always talking about this aesthetic, I couldn’t see. It took me a few years to really analyse and understand the hype around it,” she says.

It’s a way of living, Violette says, adding the French chic approach to beauty stems from a single emotion — happiness.

“Our number one concern in life is to be happy, and that starts by loving ourselves. And by doing so, we think that if we change our features, add hair extensions, have surgery or contour our faces, we’re going to transform ourselves so much that we’ll be unable to love ourselves naturally.”

It’s why contouring never really took off in France, Violette says, and the reason why she eschewed a contouring product in her range. Also, notably absent is a host of base products — Violette FR is sans foundation, concealer and bronzer, too.

Instead, it’s the rebellious, irreverent mood which Violette says encapsulates her eponymous brand.

“We’re surrounded by beauty — the architecture, the fashion — more for pleasure than anything else. So, we throw on red lipstick that is sort of beauty but irreverent at the same time,” she says.

“We never use too much styling products in our hair, and never too much makeup on our skin. We never want to look like we spent too much time in the bathroom.”

The essence of French beauty is a very precise puzzle, Violette says, and one that she can now spot a mile away in her hometown of Brooklyn.

But while Violette FR is inherently French, Violette says she’s conscious of her brand feeling friendly and approachable.

She achieves this personal touch via her social media channels and weekly e-newsletter, where she’s been able to cultivate a loyal community of like-minded beauty buffs.

“I want to embrace French philosophy and make it my own, but I never want people to see my brand as a French brand and think we’re too cool. I hate that because it feels very exclusive,” she says. “I want everybody to feel welcome.”

It makes sense then, that Violette is expanding her brand into the Australasian market by launching a tight edit of 10 covetable products at Mecca but adds her collection will also line the shelves at Parisian pharmacies — satisfying her enduring obsession with shopping the shelves in France.

“My proudest moment since launching Violette FR was seeing my skincare products in French pharmacies because that’s where we [French women] buy products. We don’t go to Sephora, we go to the French pharmacy,” she says. “I was worried as a makeup artist that my skincare brand wouldn’t be credible, and I spent so much time working on with the best in the industry. I knew that having the stamp of approval with French pharmacies that it would help give me credibility.”

In 2021, Violette was appointed Creative Director of Makeup at Guerlain, a title she still holds today and juggles with her own work as CEO of Violette FR.

“I’m so passionate I can never do something halfway, so I really have to split my brain in terms of creativity,” she says. “It’s fine because the brands are so different that it actually feels very inspiring for me to disconnect from my brand and then connect on Guerlain and vice versa.”

She’s mindful to keep her two worlds separate, but Violette says she’s grateful for the opportunity to be across a brand which is ingrained in French history.

“It’s an incredible place to work because it’s a part of our history. I’m very humbled by this,” she says.

Still today, Violette draws inspiration from a walk in botanical gardens, or in the pages of her favourite book. Rather than fixate on trends or what other brands are doing, Violette creates makeup she herself wants to wear.

“I never look at trends, I have no clue what’s going on. Who gives a shit if I want to wear blue on my eyes? If it’s a trend I don’t care about it,” she says. “The best way to be different in a very crowded market is to focus on what you would do yourself because everybody’s unique. There’s a better chance you will continue to be unique if you keep your eyes on you, not on what other people will do.”

Violette’s Five-Minute Face

“First you have to start with good skincare and the Boum-Boum Milk ($116) is a great base for makeup. Then I would do Bisou Blush ($63) which I have on today, and Baume Shine ($51) to create fresh skin without barely anything. Next, I’d use Bisou Balm ($51) on cheeks and a bit to paint on eyes as well. Then a lick of mascara and you’re out the door.”

Violette FR is available now exclusively from Mecca, or online at

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