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Charlotte Gainsbourg - InStyle July 2016 - LEAD
Credit: Johan Sandberg

What exactly does one wear for a close encounter of the third kind? Mostly Acne, if you're Charlotte Gainsbourg, who plays psychiatrist Catherine Marceaux in the extraterrestrial blockbuster Independence Day: Resurgence, out June 24. "I don't stray far from my casual personal style on camera," says the 44-year-old actress and musician, who worked closely with costume designer Lisy Christl to craft looks for her role in the latest installment of the beloved franchise. "The other characters had futuristic suits and ranger boots, but I wanted Catherine's aesthetic to be feminine and relatable."

Charlotte Gainsbourg - InStyle July 2016 -SLIDE 1
Credit: Johan Sandberg

Resurgence is the biggest U.S. production that Gainsbourg (a household name in France) has been part of, and one that she hopes will help her connect with American audiences. "The French respect me because of the legacy of my parents [actress and singer Jane Birkin—yes, that Birkin—and musician Serge Gainsbourg], so my work always comes second," she explains. "Here, when people recognize me, it's because they've seen a film I've done, which is a luxury."

Charlotte Gainsbourg - InStyle July 2016 -SLIDE 2
Credit: Johan Sandberg
Charlotte Gainsbourg - InStyle July 2016 -SLIDE 3
Credit: Johan Sandberg

During a recent weeklong stretch of rain in N.Y.C., Gainsbourg is dressed practically in jeans and an oversize black sweater, but a few particularly special pieces are protecting her from the elements: a checkered Yves Saint Laurent coat on permanent loan from Birkin ("I have pictures of her wearing it while holding me as a baby") and suede boots inherited from her sister, the late photographer Kate Barry. "I'm very sentimental with clothing," says Gainsbourg. Growing up in Paris with Birkin, she cultivated vivid memories of watching her mom primp. "She once wore a mermaid-like dress made of electric blue paillettes that was so tight, I could feel her skin through it when I hugged her hips," she recalls fondly.

Charlotte Gainsbourg - InStyle July 2016 -SLIDE 5
Credit: Johan Sandberg

But when it comes to styling her own brood (son Ben, 19, and daughters Alice, 13, and Joe, 5, with longtime partner, actor-director Yvan Attal), Gainsbourg has a method that is more comedy than catwalk. "We recently dressed Joe in a hot-dog suit that her brother got her," she says. "Everyone thought it was hilarious—except her."

Charlotte Gainsbourg - InStyle July 2016 -SLIDE 4
Credit: Johan Sandberg

Image Credits: Johan Sandberg/Artlist; hair: Seb Bascle/Artlist; makeup: Carole Columbani/Nars Cosmetics/Jed Root; manicure: Annamari Zsombi; production: Rosco Production.