'WHILE MODELLING, I discovered that my best feature is my smile. The best tip I would give is for other women to share theirs,' says Olivia Chantecaille, breaking into an illuminating grin to prove her point. One wouldn't usually expect such simple advice from a woman with a beauty empire at her fingertips and products aplenty. But then Chantecaille, 33, has always had a refreshing approach to the cosmetics industry. Her mother, Sylvie, was the first to introduce foundations for different skin colours while working at Estee Lauder, and Olivia has followed in her pioneering footsteps, making Chantecaille one of the leading brands of natural beauty products. 'We believe that natural and organic products are more beneficial to women. Not only do they contain fewer harmful toxins, but they are also filled with more energy,' says Chantecaille. As the ambassador for Chantecaille Beaute, her impeccable, polished style is perhaps the best advertisement for the brand's belief in Mother Nature. Sipping tea in Laduree, the famous Parisian cafe that has set up shop in London's Harrods, she carries herself with an almost Old World elegance: if Princess Grace had been blessed with dark hair and olive skin, a comparison between the two wouldn't be out of place. Chantecaille's skin is, of course, flawless and glowing, despite her relentless schedule. I know she must be wearing make-up, but it's impossible to trace. How does she do it? 'My approach to beauty is doing what makes you feel good - your inside is reflected on the outside. Also, to use products that are natural, which means fewer toxins stressing the body.' Her faith in natural methods comes from her childhood, spent in leafy East Hampton, New York. 'I grew up around flowers and plants and have always looked to them for healing and restorative properties.' Chantecaille leapt at the opportunity to take this passion further in 1997, when her mother appointed her creative director of the family firm, combining her fascination with the power of plants with the eye for colour she developed while studying art history at New York University. But a girl can't get by on plants alone, which is where Chantecaille's other passion - fashion - comes into play. Seasonal trends are integral to Chantecaille's role in the company, and she has established herself as something of a front-row fixture during New York Fashion Week, to make sure she keeps up with the way the fashion winds are blowing. 'I like to create new colours to complement what is happening on the runway. A woman's look goes far beyond her make-up; her clothes, jewellery, even her attitude all influence which lipstick she chooses to wear.' Keeping a keen eye on the catwalks doesn't only serve professional purposes, Chantecaille admits - as her frequent appearances on best-dressed lists prove. She has a classic approach to dressing, describing her style as 'elegant and modern', an aesthetic she adopted from her mother. Favouring designers such as Prada, Chanel, J. Mendel, Calvin Klein, Rochas and Derek Lam for their 'well-made and perfectly proportioned clothes', she buys with practicality in mind. 'I know that when I purchase a piece, it will last for ever.' She has always gravitated towards a pared-down aesthetic, she says, despite the occasional flirtation with something more scandalous, such as the figure-hugging fishtail Dolce & Gabbana gown in clotted-cream chantilly lace she wore for the Costume Institute Gala in 2004. When it comes to beauty, Chantecaille has adhered, since her early twenties, to a regime introduced to her by her mother. 'I cleanse my face every night and never wear make-up to bed. I use an anti-ageing moisturiser. I try to stay out of the sun, drink lots of water and don't smoke.' Her understanding of what kind of colour palette suits her skin tone has evolved since taking the helm at Chantecaille, as has her ability to apply make-up. She now favours subtler, more delicate skin foundations, and softer tones for her lips and eyes. 'I've learned that less is always better,' she says. Her only faux pas was an ill-advised perm in the 1980s. 'I loved it at the time,' she says. While most teenage girls indulge in a little make-up experimentation (more often than not to their disadvantage), Chantecaille had the benefit of a world-leading cosmetics guru on hand. 'My mother has always been an inspiration to me. The most important thing she's taught me is to love yourself and to take care of yourself.' And what is the ultimate beauty secret that she has learned from her mother? She leans forward. 'I'm not telling you.' And the smile returns.