Melanie Laurent

The Cannes Film Festival is always fertile ground for emerging, fashionable, and talented starlets to showcase their on-screen work and off-screen style. Naturally, we watch the proceedings very carefully, as the competition always makes us aware of international trendsetters. During last year's festivities, we noticed that one young woman stood out as the cream of the proverbial crop: Mélanie Laurent. Since this first sighting, we've followed her closely and were very pleased to discover that she is much more than a pretty face. She is, in fact, an accomplished actress, writer, and director who is about to make a cinematic splash on this side of the pond. And while we were initially smitten with Laurent's dressier ensembles, what truly solidified her sartorial standing as our Girl Of The Month was the triple-threat's personal panache off the red carpet-it's bold, quirky, and impossibly chic!

Before we delve into the specifics of Laurent's lovely looks, first we'd like to make a proper and professional introduction. Laurent is a lauded actress in France (a recipient of the César Award-the French equivalent of the Oscars-in 2006 for Most Promising Actress) and writer/director (her short film De Moins en Moins was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or in 2008). As for her upcoming projects, she is poised to captivate moviegoers as the young star of this summer's Inglorious Basterds. This Quentin Tarantino-helmed WWII flick is one of the most buzzed-about films to premiere at the 2009 festival and will surely raise Laurent's profile stateside. While we can't wait to see what our GOTM wears to cruise the Croisette alongside her co-stars Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger, until then, we're content to highlight some of her most fashionable recent outfits that put her on our radar in the first place.

As you can see from above images, Laurent's a serious fashion-phile who possesses an insouciant style and understated beauty. During the prêt-a-porter and haute couture shows in Paris, Laurent is always front row at Chloe and Sonia Rykiel and photographed backstage with Nicolas Ghesquière and Marc Jacobs. Seen outside the F/W 09 Balenciaga show (above, second from right) Laurent looked on-trend in a cropped nude motorcycle jacket-we like this seasonal spin on a fashionable favorite-with Balenciaga's Arena Giant Envelope ($995). Pick up Joie's Dolores Leather Motorcycle Jacketicon ($698) for an equally chic outwear option.

After dark, Laurent turns heads with her signature stylish élan, as well. At the Fashion Dinner for AIDS Fundraiser at the Pavillion d'Armenonville this January (far right), she showcased her unconventional style by wearing a heart-print dress with Sonia by Sonia Rykiel's Multi Color Adjustable Belt ($115). We fell head over heels for our GOTM's patterned frock, so we were beyond thrilled to find Rika's Anastasia Dress ($247), which features a variation on the playful, Laurent-approved print.

While we always focus on off-duty style, we must confess that we're also partial to Laurent's red-carpet ensembles and would be remiss if we didn't spend some time highlighting her ethereal choices. Back on the Côte d'Azur, Laurent opted for a blush blouse and satin shorts for a press junket (far left), a strapless saffron feathered frock (second from left), and a divine, tiered black Jean Paul Gaultier gown (center image) for a star-studded screening of Che. We, of course, don't have to walk as many red carpets as Laurent, but if we did, we would opt for LaRok's La Princesse Dress ($298), which reflects the strapless shape and cascading black overlay of the fancier fare she prefers.

In addition to her artful wardrobe selections, Laurent has also mastered the perfectly tousled hair that the French do so well. When it comes to makeup, her signature look is a smoky eye with black liner, though she occasionally varies her routine and wears a classic blue-red lip. Either way, she's very old-Hollywood glam, yet totally unfussy in her execution of these classic looks.

This excellence in beauty, coupled with her obvious joie de vivre and unconventional flair for fashion have completely swept us away! With a solid resume of quality cinematic gems under her belt, and a growing collection of inspiring outfits on display, we find ourselves breathless with giddy anticipation about what she will wear next. All in all, we love this independent spirit whose star is on the rise, and we can't wait to watch her well-dressed ascension!-Kate Mulling

Photos from Getty Images.