Tousled hair, fresh-faced makeup and a certain je ne sais quoi are hallmarks of French women's style — or, at least, the idealized version obsessed about by American fashionistas.
Miss Universe Iris Mittenaere, who won the 2017 competition representing her home country of France, looked the part at the Statue of Liberty in NYC on Tuesday, exuding French-girl chic in a floral wrap dress and perfectly undone waves.
USA TODAY traveled with Mittenaere, along with Miss USA Kara McCullough, on a pre-Fourth of July tour of Ellis Island and, fittingly, the Statue of Liberty, considering the monument was gifted by France to the United States.
While Americans may be obsessed with the elusive secrets of French style, which enables her countrywomen to look stunning with seemingly little effort , Mittenaere explained to USA TODAY that it's all an illusion.
“They dress differently because they try to be more natural, but they really think a lot about it before they dress," she said.
As far as differences go, "Their makeup is less heavy, and even their hair,” she said, mentioning “messy hair” as a very French characteristic.
However, that messiness often takes quite a bit of time for French women to manufacture. “They’re like ‘Oh, this is natural, I just moved my hair,” but it took them hours to do that,” she said, gesturing to her curls. “Even today with me, it’s like, ‘That’s natural,’ but no, it took me almost an hour.”
That being said, she “loves Americans’ hairstyles," for their elaborate styling and glamour.
By this point in their pageant terms, elegance comes second nature to Mittenaere and McCullough, who live together in NYC when they're not traveling the world carrying out their Miss Universe and Miss USA duties. Mittenaere took home the the Miss Universe crown in January, becoming only the pageant's second French winner, with McCullough, representing D.C., winning Miss USA in May.