There are few actresses in the world who command the respect and presence that Cate Blanchett does. Poised and intelligent, ethereal yet chameleonic - she inhabits every role she takes on with intense, visceral authenticity. In person, she is just as deeply immersed and committed to the moment – or the interview, as it were. A couple of years ago I was flown to Milan by Giorgio Armani to talk to Cate about their fragrance, Si, for which she is face. There, in the immaculate suite at the Armani hotel where we were staying, she was poised, dressed in head-to-toe bespoke Armani - a slate grey blazer, cream shirt and beige wide-leg trousers.
Her skin is so fine it seems almost translucent, and those sparkling, expressive eyes - that can be laughing one moment and filled with steely resolve the next – fixed on me and I was instantly immersed in her performance. In our interview, she spoke passionately about her best memories of scent – the way her mother’s clothes smelt when she opened the wardrobe, her grandmother’s cooking and even the smell of Australia – which she described as a dangerous mix of Eucalypts and burning wood. Her rendition of those olfactory memories was flawless and I was left wanting more from her. (Aren’t we always?)
The perfume – a sweet yet sophisticated blend of chypre notes and blackberry cassis - became a favourite of mine, and it still recalls my meeting with Cate and Mr. Armani and the press launch we attended that evening - the Italian style cognoscenti, dressed to the nines, sipping on blush-hued Ruinart champagne and balancing tiny hors d'oeuvres with their Armani envelope clutch bags...
Cate is famously low maintenance with her makeup, preferring to let her flawless complexion take centre stage. In addition to her famed SK-II skincare routine, she told Elle magazine that she blessedly stayed out of the sun when she was growing up, and that she layers on Estee Lauder Sumptuous Mascara and also lines her eyes with white eyeliner to make them make them appear larger. She’s a big fan of tissue and eye masks – telling Glamour mag that she even forgot she was wearing one when she picked up her kids from school. She thought it was perhaps because her eye area had gone numb because she keeps them in the fridge! Like many actresses, she also revealed she’s a big fan of YSL Touche Eclat for concealing and that she takes Viviscal supplements for hair growth and Lipocils Lash Enhancer to help grow back her lashes after a run in she had with a lash curler. And then of course, in every interview you’ll read she waxes lyrical about her devotion to Armani Si.
Since then, the brand has added to the range with an Intense version (my favourite), a lighter Eau De Toilette version and, this year, Si Rose Signature. Now, Cate gives me her thoughts on style, the Si scent and the art of staying yes.
“I think style rather than fashion is more important to me.
Style is something that you own yourself. Although, that said, I’m very interested in what people do in fashion because there are some incredible minds and talents. Giorgio Armani being the case in point. Mr. Armani as an individual has stood the test of time. He’s across everything. And he’s celebrating his fortieth anniversary of creation.
So I think it’s that timeless quality to style rather than fashion.
The wonderful thing [is] about the world [that the brand] offers a woman with Si - to be graceful, strong, vulnerable, to embrace your hilarious side, your tragic side, your strengths, your weaknesses.
My natural inclination is always to say 'Si' - to say yes.
Si to life, Si to love, Si to freedom… all of those things are incredibly important and things that you take them for granted. It’s such a positive, outward-looking way to live one’s life.
It’s really important to walk openly in the world…
and to be positive and out-looking and generous. I always say I’m going to say “no” but I really don’t. When I put Sì on in the morning it reminds me of all these things I aspire to be.
I adore the way a fragrance lingers on the skin…
so I would be likely to wear Sì Intense during the day and allow it to waft on into the evening, having applied it in hidden places... I love the depth of the chypre notes in Sì Intense, which is balanced by its warm, almost velvety femininity. Sì Intense was a welcome deepening of my initial attraction to Sì.
The object itself, the bottle, is purity itself.
It pays homage to the natural world, with the organic, stone-like cap, at the same time it is elegant and modern; strong and positive. The perfume is warm, sensual, surprising and fresh. For me, it evokes mystery, luxury and the complexity of being female.”