In 1957, Givenchy released a scent that broke all the rules. Originally intended for Hubert de Givenchy’s dear friend and muse Audrey Hepburn, ‘L’Interdit’ – which translates to “the forbidden” – was a powerful perfume rich with intoxicating, heady floral notes. Fast forward to 2018, and Givenchy reworked the scent with the help of its master perfumers Dominique Ropion, Anne Flipo, and Fanny Bal. Centered around the clashing of black and white, it stands for pushing boundaries, chasing desires, and embracing freedom.
It’s little wonder, then, that the fragrance’s new muse is Hollywood star Rooney Mara. An actress known for her captivating performances and dedication to roles and movies that break boundaries and push her to her limits, she fights for everything from environmental issues to human rights, and isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in. It’s also no coincidence that she’s often compared to Audrey Hepburn…
This month, the ‘L’Interdit’ adventure continues with the addition of the new ‘L’Interdit Eau de Toilette’. As vibrant and free as the original fragrance, it’s intense and airy, highlighting the unapologetic dark and daring side of every woman. Each spritz lingers on the skin like the tingle of excitement and exhilaration, stirred up by a dark core of pavot flowers that disrupts the original composition.
Savoir Flair found out firsthand just what being the face of the perfume means to Mara, as we sat down with the actress at Le Bristol Paris hotel at its unveiling. Oh, and we can absolutely confirm that it is just as intriguing as the original perfume. From her foray into film to the scents that remind her of childhood and how embracing veganism has changed her life, here’s what we found out when we hung out with Rooney Mara.
What was it like starting off in Hollywood?
I moved to LA when I was 21, and lived with my sister [Kate Mara]. She had one bedroom, and we slept in the bed together. She was a working actor and I wasn’t. I was trying to find work. I was really lucky that I could to that, that I had her as a guide, so I think I probably had a much easier entry than others – especially as it can be quite lonely if you don’t know anyone there.
Why didn’t want to pursue your psychology degree?
I never wanted to become a psychologist, but I had to go to university, you know? My parents really wanted me to, and psychology really fascinated me. I didn’t want to study acting.
The ‘L’Interdit’ fragrance was originally created for Audrey Hepburn in 1957. How does it feel being the face of the scent today?
I feel honored. It’s really special to get to be the face of a perfume that was once Audrey Hepburn’s. It’s surreal to think about that!
What’s your earliest fragrance memory?
My grandparents had a farm, so the smell of horses and hay is really nostalgic for me. Anytime I go back to where I grew up and it’s coming into fall – I don’t know what it is – I’m reminded of going back to school. And that’s a terrible thought!
So we take it you didn’t like going to school?
No, I hated it! Even in kindergarten, I hated it. It just wasn’t for me – I probably should have been in some alternative school. I just wasn’t very good at school, I was a terrible speller, and it was challenging for me, so I really didn’t enjoy it. I would love to go back to school now. Well, not school, but I love learning about things! But when you’re young, you put so much pressure on it and it feels so scary and, if you fail, your life’s going to be over. But now, as an adult, I can learn about things because I actually want to and they interest me.
Todd Haynes directed both Carol and the Givenchy ‘L’Interdit’ campaign. What was that like?
It was great! It was fun. I have a real love for him and I trust him, so it was amazing. He’s such a great artist and has an incredible aesthetic.
Can you tell us about the couture outfit you wore in the campaign?
It was actually a skirt and a top with a belt, but it looked like a dress. It was so beautiful, and they made it especially for the campaign. It was very itchy though! But so beautiful that I didn’t care.
Is Givenchy an inspiration for your own fashion line?
No, it’s so different, my thing is so small – but I do think Givenchy is an inspiration for me generally and aesthetically.
Considering that we’re here, chatting in Paris, what do you think about Parisian style?
French women are the most chic – by far. I don’t know why, but they are! This is definitely the chicest city in the world.
What are your fashion essentials?
A T-shirt, trousers, and shoes [laughs].
Did you experiment with your style when you were growing up?
I was much quirkier with my style, especially when I was younger. I used to love to dress in all types of outfits. I also loved vintage clothes. Saying that, I was much more feminine than I am now. I still love feminine stuff, just not in my everyday wardrobe.
What’s been your favorite red carpet moment?
Oh wow, just one? I mean all of the Givenchy ones are probably my favorites – and I’ve worn many Givenchy dresses. Lots of white ones!
A few years ago, you said you get stage fright. Is that still the case?
It’s very intimate when you’re on a movie set – it’s just you and the camera, and maybe the camera operator. And by stage fright, I mean any kind of public speaking. I had a fear of that, and I still do! I feel like most people do, no?
So are you nervous when you walk the red carpet?
I used to be. I mean, sure, you get a little adrenaline-type thing because it’s uncomfortable to have people staring at you and taking your picture. I’m much more interested in other people. I don’t love it when the focus is on me, it’s uncomfortable, but I don’t get nervous anymore.
Are you still involved in charity work?
I still work with the Uweza Foundation, and I do a lot of animal rights stuff now.
You’re really living the vegan life!
Haha yes! Is that what they say? Then I’m living the vegan life!
What’s been the best part of being vegan?
I mean, honestly? Everything. My skin is really great, I feel great, I’m not contributing as much as other people to climate change. Hopefully, I’ll be really healthy in 20 years…
Do you have a favorite vegan beauty brand?
Not one specifically, but there are a lot of natural beauty products that I like. There’s a brand called Everyday Oil, which you can use everywhere – on your face, on your hair, on your body. It’s really good.
Do you follow a beauty routine?
I’d say my lifestyle is more my beauty routine. I eat really well, I sleep a lot, I don’t smoke – that’s my beauty routine. I exercise regularly, which I guess is part of it! I also do yoga, hiking, sometimes Pilates or ballet, and a little karate.
How do you feel when people call you a feminist? Do you think women should empower each other more?
Oh gosh, I don’t know about being a feminist! But yes, I feel women should empower each other more. But really, I think that humans should empower each other more – not just women on women.
Speaking of empowering women, what was it like working with Cate Blanchett on Carol?
I loved working with Cate. It’s funny, most people come up to me because of that movie. It really spoke to them; it changed their lives somehow. I’m not sure why – maybe because it’s a love story and love is universal? And that happened to be a love story for a lot of people who haven’t had representation.
Everyday Oil ‘Mainstay Blend’
Who else do you admire?
I really admire Jane Goodall. I don’t know if you saw the documentary on her, but she’s amazing – I’ve always admired her. And David Bowie. People like that.
You said in an interview that Mary Magdalene was one of the few movies you’ve done that your family watched and actually liked?
[laughs] Well, definitely my grandparents! I do things that are quite intense, and some of them are on the darker side, so it’s probably hard for any family member to watch that. Like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, for example, a lot of horrible things happen to me in that – so, of course, my parents and grandparents aren’t going to enjoy watching it. Not that they don’t think it’s a great film! But it would be harder for them to watch.
How do you cope with such an intense role?
I honestly don’t really have a coping mechanism for it, I just do it. I’m not a method actor. I don’t really know what that means!
If you could choose one character to portray, who would it be?
I don’t know, but I don’t want to say! Because then people might read this and it’s embarrassing if it never happens [laughs].
Is there a reason you choose to not be active on social media?
Well, I am on Instagram, but I’m not public. I don’t post anything, I just follow my family. I think it’s great if someone wants to do that, and if they have the platform to do it. I just don’t want to – it’s not really my job. But never say never! I have thought about it. I do think social media can be a great way to talk about social causes that are important to you, it can be a great vehicle for that, but I don’t want to have another obligatory work platform where I have to present a certain thing.
The new Givenchy ‘L’Interdit Eau de Toilette’ is now available exclusively at Sephora.