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Meet the French It Girl Who's the Star of Your Next TV Binge

What does it take to be the next big thing? Whether you say innovation, irreverence, or lots of flash, it’s undeniably the elusive It factor—that can’t-look-away but also can’t-quite-put-your finger-on-it instinct. And we’re doubling down for It Girl, It Brand, our latest series speaking to who and what’s on the edge of being huge.

Lola Bessis is a bright, young actress better know in her native France and now making a stateside splash in Amazon’s just-released Picnic at Hanging Rock. We spoke with her about remaking a classic film… but not before we asked her to literally shine in a few pieces from Area NYC. From design duo Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk, the brand is a similarly bubbling name who counts some of the coolest fashion insiders (see Bella Hadid and Aleali May) as fans.

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On Lola Bessis: Area Emily Stretch-Lamé Tube Minidress ($595)

We meet the striking Lola Bessis on an unusually cloudy day in Los Angeles, in an unsuspecting mansion in the historic West Adams neighborhood, the setting for our photo shoot. It’s a fitting location for our subject, as the house was built in 1890, around the same time Picnic at Hanging Rock, an Australian novel about a group of boarding school ladies who mysteriously vanish on Valentine’s Day, takes place. Bessis, a rare triple threat in Hollywood with acting, writing, and directing credits to her name, is starring in the new television adaptation of the story. The six-part Amazon Prime miniseries arrives 43 years after the film debut, boasting jaw-dropping costumes and a fresh cast of bright starlets, of which Bessis is a standout. While she’s already a familiar face to French audiences, it’s her turn as Mademoiselle Dianne de Poitiers that has us calling Bessis the next It girl to watch.

Asking Bessis what she loves more, being in front of the camera or behind it, is like asking us to choose between only wearing heels or only wearing flats: It’s impossible to answer. Perhaps that is what makes her an incredible talent. Character creation is not just a job; it’s what drives her. We saw this firsthand as she spoke to the transformation of Hanging Rock’s Mademoiselle Dianne de Poitiers. Bessis was giddy telling us about the professor of French and education’s exciting journey throughout the series from shy, by-the-book woman to carefree and defiant spirit.

“She just wants to find out what happened to the girls, whatever that means,” says Bessis, who loved “working on a show compared to a film because there is so much more evolution to the character, and that was very interesting. And it’s not only my character. All of the characters evolve so much during the show, and I love that.”

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On Lola Bessis: Area Slub-Weave Cotton-Blend Crop Top ($495) and Leather Flared-Leg Pants ($1250); Sergio Rossi Crystal-Embellished Leather Sandals ($750)

Even if you haven’t seen Picnic at Hanging Rock, chances are you’re familiar with the film’s iconic costumes. The high-neck and long-sleeve white Appleyard College uniform dresses are the stuff of countless mood boards, and the fashion was certainly a memorable part of the project for Bessis.

“It felt like being in a fairy tale when I got there,” she recalls. “I loved the costumes so much, and most of them were actually from the 1900s or around that era.” But as is the case with most period pieces, such glamorous fashion doesn’t come without a little pain. “It helps you get into character and understand what women were going through back in the day,” says Bessis. “And it’s not only the corset. It’s that getting dressed takes an hour, so many layers, so many laces to attach. Luckily, on set, we had people to help us, but can you imagine how women used to do that? It’s crazy!”

Naturally, Bessis’s real-life wardrobe is more low-key, albeit with the occasional mélange of bright colors or a statement vintage find. “I love clothes that have a story, so I’ll bring stuff from my travels or wear things that used to belong to my grandmother or my mom,” she says of her personal style. “It feels more beautiful when it has a history.”

She continues to regale us with the stories behind some of her favorite pieces, the ’70s suede jacket owned by her grandmother and her collection of vintage jumpsuits, including one with the name Jenny or Jerry (she’s not sure) embroidered on the front. It’s enough to make us want to spend hours in her closet, or at least hit up the nearest vintage store together. I guess we’ll just have to save that adventure for next time because if one thing is for sure, this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of the rising star.

See Lola Bessis in Picnic at Hanging Rock, now streaming on Amazon Prime, and follow her on Instagram: @lolabessis.

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Photographer: Paley Fairman; Photo Assistant: Anthony Espino; Makeup: Dana Delaney; Hair: Amber Duarte; Styling Assistant: Rob Ziemer