Backstage areas at Fashion Week are notoriously chaotic, but when you take into account the fact that Fendi is helmed by not one, but two legendary designers, and that its model lineup always includes the season’s “It” girls, you’ve got a recipe for absolute mayhem – in the best way possible. With cameras and microphones clamoring for Karl Lagerfeld and Sylvia Fendi’s attention, Cara Delevingne and Georgia May Jagger dodging interviews, and Delfina Delettrez hanging out with the other Fendi daughters, the electric mayhem backstage after the show is unlike any you’ll ever experience.
It’s in a quiet room at the back of the space, away from all of the action, that I meet Kasia Smutniak, the face of Fendi’s new ‘Furiosa’ fragrance. The Polish model and actress is dressed in a powder-blue suit, wearing barely any makeup – the picture of serenity in stark contrast to what’s going on outside the door (the thickness of which I am very grateful for). She’s just had a baby and, as you can imagine, it’s impossible to tell. Her hair is styled into an effortless I-just-got-out-of-bed look and her laughter is contagious, and in that moment I understand exactly why she’s been chosen as the face of a fragrance that stands for feminine strength and wild, untamable beauty. Immediately taking the lead in our conversation, she welcomes me to Milan.
Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. Do you live in Milan?
I used to live in Milan; I came here to be a model. Now I live in Rome. I’ve lived there for… 15 years. Yes, 15 years. Wow. I’m 35 now.
You don’t look a day over 25!
[Laughs] Thank you! I live in the countryside now. I have a lot of animals and two children, so my life has changed. But there is always that connection with fashion. I used to be in the fashion world when I was a model, but now I look at it from a different perspective, which is really cool. I look at it from the outside, but I also know what happens on the inside. I really enjoy it now; I’m part of fashion, but without the stress.
You’ve been chosen by Fendi to be the face of its new ‘Furiosa’ fragrance. How has the experience been so far?
We actually shot an ad campaign specifically for the Middle East. I had to speak in Arabic for the video, which was really fun.
Do you speak Arabic?
No, I don’t! I had to learn the same sentence in so many different languages, including Arabic.
What were your first thoughts when Fendi approached you with this?
I was happy. I’ve known Fendi for years; it’s based in Rome and I’m a good friend of Delfina’s. I was a bit shocked about the name, though. They told me, “We see you like this.” Furiosa means a little bit crazy, but also independent and strong. I only thought about the crazy part at first, and kept saying, “I don’t think I’m crazy!” [Laughs] But then I understood that it’s not about the craziness; it’s about being independent. And I started thinking that being independent and being free maybe looked like craziness to some people. Being out of the…
Out of the box?
Yes! And I think that I am out of the box – maybe not crazy, but definitely out of the box.
Have you always thought of yourself in that way?
You know, as women, we look at ourselves as more fragile creatures. So it’s hard to see these qualities in yourself. It’s a lot easier for someone else to come and tell you that this is how you are. Then, you will start to see it. But women are strong. We are so strong.
Are there any female role models that you look up to and that you feel embody this ideal?
Oh, my grandmother! She’s really crazy. [Laughs] She feels very classic, but then she has pink hair. She doesn’t understand that she looks crazy. She’s 80 years old, and she has fuchsia hair. I love her. She’s a very strong woman.
What about the fragrance itself? What do you think of it?
Here you go, smell it. [Hands me a bottle]
I love it! Strong is definitely the keyword here.
The first hit you get of it is very strong, yes. But if you leave it on for a little bit and then smell it again, it’s softer.
Like a woman.
Exactly! The more time you spend with a strong woman, the more you discover her softer side. And when she’s gone, she leaves a soft smell behind and you can’t stop thinking about her. You see?
I do. I think this fragrance will do very well in the Middle East. Have you ever been to the region?
Just to the Dubai airport, but I would love to come to Dubai. There’s always something happening there! I was supposed to come last year, but I was pregnant.
Just don’t come in the summer, it is too hot. But the rest of the year, the weather is just incredible. There’s no place like it in the world.
Oh wow. Will you invite me to Dubai? [Laughs]
Just say when! Before we finish, could you please share some parting words of wisdom with our readers as the face of a fragrance that stands for strength and independence?
I’m too young to have advice to offer. Ask me when I’m 6o! [Laughs] But what I’ve learned so far is that time is so important. Don’t waste it, because nothing else matters.
Photo and video: Courtesy of Fendi