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The Essential List: Symonne Torpy
Advertising Agency
Paris, France
BETC Etoile Rouge’s head of cross-channel conception on her favourite staycation spots, Ivry Gitlis and her essential makeup routine

Symonne discovered a flair for writing at 16, when she dabbled in poetry, thought herself prolific, and wore berets. She eventually rebelled, literary style, and founded an anarchist newspaper, trumpeting critiques of her high-school administration and toeing the libel line. Despite audience acclaim, the publication folded when financial backers failed to emerge and printing costs confronted teen joblessness. 

Australian by birth, Symonne relocated to Paris in 2013. Post-Masters, she managed an online community of 29 global business schools and over 60 corporate partners with CEMS, and co-designed the foundational building of the American University of Paris. She then went on to create 360° experiences for clients including AXA France, Shiseido, TFWA, Armée de Terre and Cointreau.

She recently began a new chapter as head of cross-channel conception for BETC Etoile Rouge, innovating new content models and writing her way into surprising ad adventures.


Place of birth: Sydney, Australia.

Hometown: Paris, France.

Staycation: Parc Floral de Paris, Jardin des Plantes, Jardin des Tuileries, Jardin des Abords-du-Petit-Palais… any garden oasis in the city gives me life. Also, Hotel Rochechouart rooftop in summer (for the views & cocktails) and Le Bristol Paris in winter (for the fireplace). Oh, let’s not forget the hammam in La Grande Mosquée de Paris for when I want to feel a sense of goddess-ship. 

Vacation: Marettimo, a small fisherman’s island off the coast of Sicily. Just to taste La Cambusa restaurant’s abundant cicchetti again.

Pet: Would love a greyhound. For now, I pat my boyfriend instead.

Place of work: In bed in the dark when it rains. Sunbaking on a yoga mat in my salon when it’s sunny. The BETC offices in Pantin for collaboration. 

Place of workout: The gym at Soho House.

Side project: Voice over artistry. Writing a book about the adventures of my bourgeoise alter-ego, Cecily. 

Mode of transport: High heels.

Bonus travel essential: Giant hats. 


Artist: Pierre Soulages. Make light from darkness.

Musician: Ivry Gitlis. For his virtuosity, his unabashed commitment to every string, for the mice that run up and down his curtains and over his sheet music, and of course, his biting wit. Vale.

Commercials / music video director: Jonas Åkerlund.

Film director: Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Bedos, Jordan Peele.

Photographer: Nick Knight, Helmut Newton.

Film: Mr. & Mrs. Adelman, Hello Dolly, The Birds, Kill Bill, Get Out, The Big Sleep.

Series: Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Pose, Twin Peaks, Dix Pour Cent, Rupaul’s Drag Race, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (first four seasons), Real Housewives of NYC (first five seasons). 

Commercial: Because No Reason, Chambord.

Music video: Anything Todrick Hall. 

Video game: Beat Saber on Oculus Quest 2. Try to beat me at any BTS track. You’ll be sorry. 

Board game: Monopoly. 

Book: Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. Less, by Andrew Sean Greer. The Golden Gate, by Vikram Seth. 

Graphic novel: Sin City (does the film count?)

Podcast: Every Outfit.

Newspaper (off or online): The New York Times. The New Yorker. 

Magazine: Vanity Fair US. 

Bonus culture essential: Opéra en Plein Air.


Food and Drink

Breakfast: Skip it. 

Restaurant: Pottoka in Paris. It’s made me cry with joy. Twice. 

Cheap bite: Home-made Pad Thai. 

Working lunch: I try not to work during lunch. If I do, there’d better be a glass of wine involved.

Favourite dish: Right now, I’m craving spicy seafood laksa. Tomorrow, it could be something else.

Signature dish: Butter chicken, dhal, rice and raita. Like my mum makes.

Snack: Pani puri. An explosion of joy in every mouthful. 

Guilty pleasure: I don’t feel guilty about pleasure.

Bar: Soho House. It’s home. 

Booze: Soho House Picantes if I’m feeling basic. Gin tonic (The Botanist with a twist of cucumber) for any time. Espresso martinis when a wakeup is required.

Not booze: Double espresso frappé, any kind of tisane or still water. 

Bonus food: Lobster swimming in butter and herbs.

Bonus beverage: Pisco sour (for when I want to provoke a twisted evening).



Phone: iPhone something. 

Computer: MacBook Pro. The lightest one possible.

TV: Haven’t had a TV since childhood. 

Headphones: AirPods Pro.

Camera: On my iPhone.

Soundsystem: Marshall speakers, an old record player. 

Pen / pencil: A fountain pen from my grandfather filled with electric greek ink (like Rita Skeeter).

Where you document an idea: Notes on my phone or computer. And in a series of tiny, red Moleskines. 

Casual clothing: Does not exist. 

Smart clothing: Every day. Fashion makes street friendships happen. Be extravagant. 

Footwear: Never flat. 

Watch: An old wind-up Casio from my grandfather, without a strap.

Collection: Vintage Mugler jackets.

App: Vestiaire Collective for buying and selling.

Website: & 

Favourite social media feed: Facebook (I’m old). 

Work program: Keynote forever.

Digital work tool: Notes.

Analogue work tool: Coffee.

Morning grooming / makeup essential: Bourjois foundation, La Roche Posay Effaclar Gel Moussant Nettoyant Purifiant Visage (a better cleanser does not exist), loads of mascara (I don’t care which brand), Fenty perfume. 

Bonus kit essential: Cigarettes and my passport.