The pungent fresh fish section of Rungis, the sprawling, wholesale food market outside of Paris, is the last place one would expect to find an “It” girl tottering around in a Jean Paul Gaultier couture dress and stilettos. But that’s just where Audrey Marnay ends up in a memorable scene from Cédric Klapisch’s film “Paris,” now playing in French cinemas.
The movie stars Romain Duris as Pierre, a young dancer with a potentially fatal heart disease, whose sister (Juliette Binoche) moves in with him after his diagnosis. While Pierre awaits a transplant, he is left ample time to sit and observe his fellow Parisians, including a gaggle of models played by real-life mannequins Marnay, Farida Khelfa, Suzanne Von Aichinger and Annelise Hesme.
The girls serve as a bit of comic relief, taking a wild ride on a forklift at the food market and later cavorting around the Gaultier couture show. “This fashion moment rings true,” says Khelfa. “It shows the euphoria of this universe.”
But it’s a world that in real life the models seem to be abandoning in favor of the big screen. Khelfa, a former muse for Azzedine Alaïa and couture director at Gaultier, has wrapped a handful of film roles recently. One of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy’s best friends (Khelfa was a witness at her February wedding to French President Nicholas Sarkozy), she played herself in “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and will next appear in Souad El-Bouhati’s movie “Française,” which opens in Paris May 28, and Yamina Benguigui’s project for French television, “Aisha.”
Meanwhile, freckle-faced Marnay will play a vampire in director Raoul Ruiz’s next movie, scheduled for a release at the end of the year. “Fashion is not for me anymore,” says the 27-year-old. “I’m too old and too short.”