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.

ELLE (Canada) - - Contents -

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

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