Actress and Giorgio Armani ambassador, Cate Blanchett, sits down with marie claire to talk about her relationship with designer Giorgio Armani, what her favourite scent is, and why she’s taken so long to get used to being photographed.
Are you enjoying be back in Australia?
Yes, it’s not long enough, I really miss it. But we’ll come back later in the year.
As Ambassador for Giorgio Armani Si fragrances, what is it that you love most about the new Giorgio Armani Si Passione?
It’s an extension of Giorgio Armani Si’s blackberry, cascia story and I love the peppery quality of that, mixed with the pear [notes]. It’s very rich and syrupy.
What occasion do you imagine wearing this scent?
Fragrance is so personal. For this new Si Passione, people say, ”oh that’s a sensual evening scent”, which it is, but I would wear it during the day. I think that’s the wonderful thing, you can have the Si Eau de Toilette, which is lighter and then you have the same family [of scent] but you can wear it in a slightly more intense way.
What are the elements you look for in a fragrance?
I love fragrances that develop well; one that evolves on your skin as the day goes on. Si Passione absoutely does this, so I wear it a lot. It’s such a powerful thing, fragrance. And so personal. I still remember the smell of my grandmother and my mother and the smell of my suburb where I grew up.
It’s amazing isn’t it? You go straight back.
You do, it’s a real conduit, like this little rabbit hole that you fall down and you can move in parallel time. And it’s very intimate. I mean, there’s nothing more intimate than giving someone a fragrance.
What do you love about Giorgio Armani – both the brand and the designer?
Mr. Armarni was one of the first designers to bring traditionally masculine tailoring into a woman’s wardrobe. He has [always] been interested in the male silhouette but he’s also interested in the female silhouette – he designs for women in all their complexities. The Si fragrance is an expression of women in all their complexities too; Mr Armani talks about her strengths as well as her fragilities, her incredible sensuality, but also her wit and her humour. She is complex and varied.
We are definitely not one dimensional…
Yes, some days you think, ‘I’m really quite fragile today’, and the next, you’ve found your mojo again, but you’re still the same person. And those things can coexist. It’s much more an Eastern way of looking at the world; that those dualities coexist. In the West, we tend to be much more black or white and you can’t mix the two.
Do you have a signature scent that you go back to all the time? Or do you mix it up depending on your mood?
For me, the Passione is the one that I wear the most. A friend of mine made a scent which I wear occasionally but I love those deeper woody notes contained within Si. You know, I can smell firewood and leather and pepper, it’s really subterranean.
What was it like to shoot this new campaign?
I’ve worked with Tom Munro a lot. I just adore him. It’s really fantastic when you can work with someone and do such different things. It’s not like you’re repeating yourself. And I find that with my relationship with Mr. Armani, he’s constantly challenging himself, constantly uncovering new terrain. He’s intensely curious about the world; his empire includes everything from haute couture to chocolates. It’s remarkable. And I find that with Tom, depending on the mood of the fragrance, we’ve done such different things together, so I loved it. It’s just an excuse to see him really.
What was it like creating this new campaign?
Well it’s a big responsibility. To be given the responsibility of somehow embodying all these complex aspects of being female, but I can’t dwell on it too much otherwise I’d just seize up. I feel much more myself when I’m in motion so it’s taken me a long time to get used to being photographed.
Really? That’s so surprising because you are such a successful actress…
It wasn’t something I aspired to or identified with. Maybe now, with the evolution of the selfie and people constantly looking at themselves, [being photographed] is just part of being alive, but when I was growing up and I looked at the women in fashion magazines, I thought, “that’s not even that person”. It took me a while to find my way, but when you work with great photographers and you work with wonderful stylists and hair and makeup people then it becomes fun. It’s a character.
In pictures though, you’re more Cate Blanchett than when you’re playing a role…
It’s an aspect [of me]. I’ve learn that a lot with Tom, having worked with him over and over again, but it’s more [about creating] an atmosphere. I mean, fragrance is a very personal, aspirational dreaming space. So you’re trying to imbue that atmosphere.
You’ve been ambassador for Giorgio Armani since 2013. What has that experience been like?
It’s been great, being a part of the Armani family has been one of the great privileges of my life actually. Because growing up, feeling, you know, I felt that maybe I had energies and aspirations that at that time would’ve been designated masculine. I looked at the silhouettes that he was creating and I felt myself in those things. I can still be traditionally feminine but have access to that strength and confidence. With my first pay-cheque I bought an Armani suit.
Did you really?!
It was on sale. The pay-cheque wasn’t that big [laughs]. But you know, it’s been through my high school years.
So you’ve sort of gone a full circle.
Yeah, but never did I ever think I would meet him or develop a creative relationship with him. It’s a great privilege. There are very few people left in the fashion world who are as experienced and directly connected to history in the fashion industry but also continue to evolve as his does.
If you don’t mind us asking…You are known for having flawless skin. What is your skincare routine?
I realised that you had to exfoliate a few years ago so I do that a couple of time a week. But I’ve started taking these skin vitamins that have been really great. I try and drink water. And then I use a facial essence by SKII. I always use that and I always use sunscreen.
If you could finish this sentence, before I leave the house I always…
Well, I never leave the bathroom without putting fragrance on, (everything has to be done in the bathroom). But if I’m putting one beauty thing on, it would be mascara. Then I’d get into the car and realise I’ve forgotten everything else…