FRAGRANCE Listening in on Lupita Nyong’o and Saoirse Ronan.
Lupita Nyong’o and Saoirse Ronan explore the depths of what it means to know—and become—strong women.
WOMEN, THE FIRST fragrance to be unveiled during the Raf Simons era of Calvin Klein, is a celebration of women and their multitudes, so it’s fitting that two of the world’s most-sought-after actresses, Lupita Nyong’o and Saoirse Ronan, both known for choosing roles that portray the richness of the female experience, were asked to represent the woody-floral scent and to pick two of their own icons to be featured alongside them in the campaign. Here, the actresses reach each other by phone in New York City to talk about their heroes, careers and following your gut. Lupita Nyong’o “Who’s going to go first?” Saoirse Ronan “You go first!” LN “Okay. Saoirse, what were your initial thoughts when you were asked to be in the Calvin Klein Women campaign?” SR “That’s a great question, Lupita. Thank you for that. [Laughs] I was very excited to do a campaign with a brand that I felt I actually had a personal relationship with—I spent a lot of time with them when they designed two of my Oscar dresses. Raf has brought something so new and fresh to the brand—he is such an individual and has chosen his first fragrance as a way to celebrate and champion women. I thought [being a part of that] would be an incredible way to be involved with that family.” LN “How did you choose your icons, Nina Simone and Sissy Spacek, for this campaign?” SR “I was exposed to Nina’s music from a really early age through my dad. When we would drive in the car, especially in the summertime, he used to play her music; he loved ‘Sinnerman’ in particular. Watching him get so much out of someone else’s work made me excited to listen too. And then with Sissy, when I watch her onscreen, she has this very controlled ability to bring a character to life. Even now, she is so striking and beautiful, but she has a real innocence in her eyes—a contrast to the quirky characters she plays. You picked Katharine Hepburn and Eartha Kitt as your icons. What are their most memorable roles and performances for you?” LN “I feel like I am still exploring their work. I grew up in Kenya, and we had very, very controlled access to entertainment. I was in my early 20s when I heard of both Eartha and Katharine and learned what they stood for in society. Katharine was a woman who insisted on wearing pants as early as the ’30s—when it was a crime to do so. She owned those pants and made them sensual and powerful and femme. In her time, that was a great and revolutionary thing to do. Women’s fashion was connected with discomfort and restrictions; Katharine was a woman who was about freeing oneself of those things. And then Eartha—she was unbound. She spoke up about young people and the way they were being disadvantaged by the war in Vietnam and other things that were ‘uncool’ at the time. It cost her her career for about a decade, but now, of course, she is on the right side of history. The qualities in these women—their tenacity as well as their incredible talent—are things that I admire.” SR “They were badass ladies.” LN “Is there any work you’ve done that you feel particularly proud of?” SR “I am very proud of Brooklyn. It’s a story owned by so many people—basically anyone who has ever left home—and it was very, very personal to me. It was the journey that my mother and father went on when they left Ireland to come to New York. To be able to honour that was very emotional. I am really proud of Lady Bird because the impact that it seems to have had, on girls especially, has been really incredible. It has allowed kids to just own it and be themselves. To watch a character not have all the answers and not be put together is actually the most empowering thing in the world. One of the greatest reactions I’ve had to something onscreen was with Girls. I have never felt more understood than I did when I watched that show because they didn’t have it all figured out. Do you ever consider whether or not something might become iconic when you’re choosing a role?” LN “No. I choose roles according to what I feel my gut is responding to. If I want to watch a movie, then I am more likely to want to be in it. It has to be a story that I want to see told. When you are making a movie, you are committing a lot of time and effort and energy and heart to the project, so you might as well be deeply interested in it; otherwise it’s a punishment, really. I gravitate toward characters I feel I understand something fundamental about but also about whom there is something very mysterious that I need to uncover. I need to feel both drawn to them and a little bit terrified. How about you?” SR “It does have to be something that slightly scares you. I think the fear comes from not knowing what to do with a character. Or if you haven’t fully delved into a certain side of yourself before and then this role will allow you to do that— that is quite scary in itself. But out of that comes the clarity of understanding what you like and what you want and who you are. I think the characters I’ve played have helped me grow and understand myself just as much as the real people in my life because you get to know them so intimately.” ®
Perfumers Annick Ménardo and Honorine Blanc combined notes of eucalyptus, orange flower and Alaskan cedarwood for a scent they say is “unlike anything on the market.” Calvin Klein Women Eau de Parfum Spray ($92 for 50 mL). For details, see Shopping Guide.
Lupita Nyong’o and Saoirse Ronan