Cate Blanchett on glam­our and chaos



The ac­tress and beauty icon talks fam­ily, fash­ion and beauty se­crets

Cate Blanchett is tex­ting, and mor­ti­fied. “Re­mem­ber back in the day when hav­ing your phone on the ta­ble at a restau­rant was the worst sin?” she asks, tap­ping fran­ti­cally be­tween half a dozen apolo­gies. She would never nor­mally be so rude, she in­sists, but she’s tex­ting home and “life’s a bit chaotic at the mo­ment”, while Blanchett, 47, and her hus­band, Aus­tralian play­wright An­drew Up­ton, re­lo­cate from Sydney to Lon­don with their four chil­dren (Dashiell, 15, Ro­man, 12, Ig­natius, eight, and Edith, whose adop­tion was con­firmed last year). “We adopted our lit­tle girl 17 months ago, so that’s been my fo­cus, re­ally. It’s been re­ally im­por­tant to make sure that everyone’s all to­gether, on the right ship and taken care of.”

Given they only left Brighton to go home to Aus­tralia a few years ago, what brings them back to Bri­tain? “School for the kids and also work,” she says, po­litely flip­ping her phone up­side down to avoid fur­ther dis­trac­tion. “We were in Aus­tralia for eight years; my hus­band was run­ning a the­atre com­pany there and felt it was time to

wind that up. Some­times it’s a good thing cre­atively to switch it up a bit, so you can think dif­fer­ently.”

In the­ory, Blanchett’s meant to be hav­ing a quiet year – a Broad­way show this win­ter and a few weeks film­ing Mar­vel’s Thor: Rag­narok. Ex­cept today she’s host­ing the in­ter­na­tional launch of Gior­gio Ar­mani’s new Sì Le Par­fum, a fra­grance she’s been in­volved with, and worn, from the start. It was for­mu­lated by lead­ing per­fumer Julie Massé, well known for her warm, el­e­gant cre­ations, but Blanchett – a long-time friend and ad­mirer of Ar­mani – was in­vited to col­lab­o­rate. A gour­mand-chypre flo­ral whose sparkling top notes give way to spicy patchouli and warm vanilla, the scent is era-defin­ing, but man­ages to tran­scend it, too.

Blanchett has taken on an ad­di­tional role as am­bas­sador for Ar­mani’s pos­i­tive mes­sage ini­tia­tive, the Sì Women’s Cir­cle, which show­cases women who have changed ca­reer or faced dif­fi­cult chal­lenges. “It’s cel­e­brat­ing the du­al­ity of women,” she says of her friend’s cause. “Women are of­ten fo­cused on their fam­ily or com­mu­nity, but they have such a range of in­ter­ests and abil­i­ties, and chal­lenges. It can be dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile the two things, so it’s good to have a place that cel­e­brates and en­cour­ages women to say yes.”

T“Life’s full of DOUBT and chal­lenge, but if you PUSH through it a door will open up to some­thing new”

he Sì Women’s Cir­cle is cur­rently a se­ries of videos (find them on Youtube – search for Sì Women’s Cir­cle) de­signed to in­spire women to face those chal­lenges that typ­i­cally oc­cur mid­way through a ca­reer, or as it be­comes clear that life is not about to slow down or be­come less com­pli­cated any time soon. “Even though we do dif­fer­ent things as women, we face sim­i­lar ob­sta­cles and the way we sur­mount these can make all the dif­fer­ence,” Blanchett says. “The Sì Women’s Cir­cle en­cour­ages women to say yes. It’s not easy as we in­vari­ably have a pull to­wards fam­ily and com­mu­nity, but we also prize our in­di­vid­ual space and pas­sions. Life’s full of doubt and chal­lenge, but if you push through the doubt, there will be a lit­tle door that opens up to some­thing new. And that’s em­pow­er­ing.”

How does Blanchett’s own tra­jec­tory fit this pic­ture? “There was a time when I was do­ing things back to back – work­ing, run­ning the com­pany with An­drew – and it all felt very squeezed, but I was afraid to slow down and say yes to what I re­ally wanted.” That in­cluded ex­pand­ing her brood and, in­deed, “what has been great has been say­ing yes to slow­ing down, to re­claim­ing time for my­self and my fam­ily. It has been a lux­ury and a ne­ces­sity. It doesn’t mean I’m not look­ing for­ward to go­ing back to work. In a way,

that’s a men­tal space for me away from the need or the ca­coph­ony of kids. Which I ab­so­lutely love.”

While she has been tak­ing her foot off (-ish) the ca­reer pedal, Blanchett has been say­ing yes to more things on the home front. She’s in train­ing for a 28km run or­gan­ised by her son’s school, though she sus­pects it was am­bi­tious. “You’ve got to train first thing in the morn­ing and you have to have some­one else say, ‘I’ll meet you there,’ oth­er­wise you wouldn’t do it. I’d think, ‘No, I should be do­ing some­thing with the kids,’ or ‘I’m too tired.’ But if you’re go­ing to let some­one down, well, that’s of­ten a big mo­ti­va­tor to women.” And so, it seems, is the fear of ab­ject em­bar­rass­ment. “I’m just us­ing the fear of sham­ing my son as the mo­ti­va­tor!”

She has been cook­ing and gar­den­ing. “I’ve been think­ing a lot more about what I eat since hav­ing chil­dren.” (Blanchett con­sid­ers her­self a lapsed veg­e­tar­ian and is care­ful about what she eats, “but not in a way that’s about de­nial; more, if you’re full, then stop”.) You be­come aware of how over-pro­cessed things are, she says, “and it be­comes more nat­u­ral to reach for fresh, healthy things”. To make home cook­ing less oner­ous? “Em­brace chop­ping! They should in­tro­duce it in men­tal health in­sti­tu­tions. Get a car­rot and chop it. It slows you down a lit­tle bit.” She says gar­den­ing is re­lax­ing, too.

Today, in her im­mac­u­late pale grey Ar­mani suit, Blanchett couldn’t look fur­ther from a car­rot-chop­ping mum. But that’s the point. “It goes back to that du­al­ity,” she says. “Clothes and scent af­fect your mood and some days it’ll be track­suit pants and un­washed hair, then the next day I’ll think, ‘Ooo, I haven’t worn that Ar­mani suit for ages,’ and I’ll go to Waitrose in it. Ridicu­lous, but it’s mood-en­hanc­ing.”

Does Hol­ly­wood’s re­lent­less fash­ion pa­rade some­times feel less than em­pow­er­ing? She nods. “Everyone talks about the pres­sure of get­ting ready for an event be­cause the scru­tiny has in­creased to such a ridicu­lous degree. And we’re all party to it. But I ab­so­lutely en­shrine the right to have a good time, to en­joy get­ting dressed up so it doesn’t feel like a job. I tell my­self I’m ex­cited. I tell my­self they’re tak­ing pic­tures but no one is ever go­ing to see them. I just claim the space, I think.” It’s that kind of sen­si­ble, grown-up at­ti­tude that has se­cured Blanchett’s rep­u­ta­tion as the think­ing woman’s Hol­ly­wood star and kept us in­ter­ested in her life­style and how she looks af­ter her­self.

As be­fits her vel­lum-like com­plex­ion, Blanchett’s main beauty fo­cus is her skin. “I use SK-II serums, mois­turiser and masks. The SK-II Whiten­ing Mask boosts my skin be­fore an event and I use the LXP line morn­ing and night. And I al­ways wear sunscreen. I don’t wear a lot of make-up these days, maybe mas­cara and con­cealer.” Blanchett fares less well with hair. “I hate hair. It’s al­ways the last to go. I don’t know what I, or the army, did be­fore dry sham­poo.”

Today she looks glo­ri­ous – hair and all – though in her down-to-earth way she says this is due to the hair and make-up team hid­ing up­stairs. Her re­la­tion­ship with make-up artist Mary Green­well is an old one, but Blanchett says she still picks up tips: “I’ve learnt all about lay­er­ing and ap­pli­ca­tion.

It’s about lots of sheer lay­ers to treat skin and build up a nat­u­ral glow. And peo­ple put make-up on top of skin, but Mary re­ally mas­sages it in. If you’re not awake first thing in the morn­ing, you will be af­ter about 15 min­utes be­cause [with Green­well] you’re slapped around a lot!”

So it’s yes to more beauty tips, yes to more kids, yes to mov­ing half­way across the world – again. Blanchett says she’s not afraid of change and her per­sonal mission is also “to push through those doubts and open lit­tle doors” when­ever she can. And now she’s in­spir­ing women to do the same. We’ll say YES to that!

Cate Blanchett is the face of Gior­gio Ar­mani Sì Le Par­fum, £115, and an am­bas­sador for the Sì Women’s Cir­cle

“I ab­so­lutely en­shrine the RIGHT to have a GOOD time, to en­joy dress­ing up so it doesn’t feel like a job”

Be­sides be­ing an Os­car-win­ning ac­tress, Blanchett is also the face of Gior­gio Ar­mani’s Sì Le Par­fum

“What has been great has been say­ing yes to slow­ing down”

Con­cealer might make an ap­pear­ance on Blanchett’s off-duty days, “if I have time”. Gior­gio Ar­mani Maestro Eraser Dark Cir­cle Con­cealer, £28.50 Blanchett has worn Gior­gio Ar­mani Sì Le Par­fum (£65 for 50ml) “from the start”

“Ar­mani do a great mas­cara – Eyes To Kill.” Gior­gio Ar­mani Eyes To Kill Mas­cara, £27 “I love Chanel eye­shad­ows – the tex­ture’s spot-on.” Chanel Il­lu­sion D’om­bre Long Wear Lu­mi­nous Eye­shadow in Emerveillé, £25

“I’ve been us­ing SK-II for 13 years and the range has ex­ploded in that time! I can make it re­ally be­spoke.” SK-II LXP Ul­ti­mate Per­fect­ing Serum, £250; and Ul­ti­mate Per­fect­ing Essence, £191

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