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Régine Zylberberg: Queen of the Scene

Régine Zylberberg (aka Régine) is an unstoppable force. She sings, dances and is proprietress of world-famous nightclubs—among other boasts.

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Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 06/19/2009

Régine Zylberberg (aka Régine) is an unstoppable force. She sings, dances and is proprietress of world-famous nightclubs—among other boasts. Now, 20 years after launching her signature scent, Régine is introducing Zoa. The women’s fragrance hit shelves on June 1 in France’s Colette and will be sold there exclusively for 99 days before entering broader distribution. Here, Régine dishes on her life in disco.

This story first appeared in the June 19, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

 

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF BEAUTY?
Me, obviously. [She laughs.] Beauty is what one can watch without tiring.

 

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS?
Since I could walk, I nicked my mother’s lipstick. I adore all products and I adore being a guinea pig. Even when I was broke….

 

WHAT ARE SOME SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CREATING A FRAGRANCE AND CREATING A SONG?
It’s the same thing. For songs, it’s necessary to have soul, a musical ear and something sensual. In perfume, you must have a subtle sense of smell, fi nd the right notes. It’s all a question of notes.

 

WHAT NOTES DID YOU WANT IN ZOA AND WHY?

I always loved pink pepper, vervain, peony and amber. It was important I found those notes in my perfume.

 

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH ZOA’S BOTTLE DESIGN?

I always danced and twirled; they called me “the Spinning Top.” So a dancer inspired the bottle’s form. Thierry Lecoule found the ideal movement to signify a woman dancing. I, of course, looked down numerous other paths for Zoa. All the bottles that were proposed were heavy and resembled liquor bottles. The original flacon became the obvious choice.

 

HIGH MAINTENANCE OR LOW MAINTENANCE?
I’m high maintenance.

 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LOOK?

Thanks to my [red] hair, I can’t be lost in a crowd. I am a “classicoeccentric.”

 

LAST CALL HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?

At 17, I dressed like actresses from the Fifties. When I was older, I dressed younger than my age. I adore Zadig & Voltaire, Jean Paul Gaultier. Marc Bohan, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld created my dresses. I have known them since their debuts and we’ve become great friends. Valentino, as well. Today, I can’t resist buying something I love at first sight.

 

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR SINGING CAREER SO FAR?

Carnegie Hall in 1969, Les Bouffes du Nord, the Olympia and Monte Carlo.

 

WHAT ARE SOME MEMORABLE NIGHTCLUB MOMENTS?

There are too many unforgettable moments and it would take days and days for me to tell you about them. But there were some unforgettable encounters with Maria Callas, John Wayne, mythical characters. And the first dance with Gene Kelly, where I succumbed. All of my clubs’ openings were unforgettable moments.

 

DJS HAVE A LOT TO THANK YOU FOR. YOU BANISHED JUKEBOXES AND REPLACED THEM WITH PAIRED TURNTABLES FOR SEAMLESS MUSIC.
Most DJs know that I invented mixing. I was the first to destroy the automatic system with the manual system.

 

YOU’RE FAMOUS FOR THE TWIST. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

The West Side Story troupe was in France and each night I was in the wings. There was Michael Bennett who explained to me how The Twist was born. Originally, it mimicked what hoodlums did when the police appeared in the middle of a brawl. This hooligan dance made me famous.

 

IS THERE ANYONE YOU HAVEN’T YET MET WHO YOU’D LIKE TO?

I’ve had the extraordinary luck to meet almost all the well-known figures I’d like to. I would have loved to have met George Sand and Sarah Bernhardt.

 


DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO?

Do what you know is right and don’t listen to criticism.

 

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