Cate Blanchett Loves the Smell of Newborn Babies
She sat down with InStyle to talk all things olfactory.
Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett is an expert at setting a #mood. And when she gets into character, fragrance plays a key part in her transformation. We caught up with Blanchett, who is a global ambassador for Giorgio Armani Beauty and Fragrances, while she was in London for the brand’s most recent launch, Sì Fiori.
Since we’re talking about fragrances, who or what smells good to you?
It’s boring, but newborn babies. They’re just delicious. And so full of possibilities.
Indeed. Does fragrance factor into your getting-ready routine and into your work?
Oh, totally! Fragrance is such a receptacle of your memory. And also your sense of self and aspirations of who you want to project to the world. I think it was in the ’80s that they [launched] Poison — remember Poison? It was such a room-filling fragrance. For me, personally, I gravitate toward sensual, supple fragrances. They totally change your mood — and to choose one for every character is a must.
Do you have a whole suite of fragrances to choose from at home?
The only one I would wear from outside the [Armani] Sì family is one my mother used to wear, [the classic unisex scent] 4711. Everyone put it on after tennis. It was a real ’70s statement that reminds me of my childhood.
You’ve changed your hair a lot throughout your career. Is there one style that you’ve felt most comfortable in?
I loved the whole look from Ocean’s [8, 2018] and the shape [of that haircut] as well. I think the hardest to maintain was sad Carol [Aird, from the 2015 film Carol] because of the rigidity of the shoot and the kind of remoteness of her look. She had to be the object of someone’s desire. It was an onerous responsibility. And she was so groomed, which is quite hard for me.
Your Bob Dylan transformation in I’m Not There  was mind-blowing.
Yeah, that was obviously quite androgynous. My husband wouldn’t come near me.
What does your beauty routine look like if you need to get ready in a hurry?
I’m usually getting ready on the tube or on the train or in a car. I’m not very good with the liquid foundation, but Armani just made a compact that’s really easy to apply. I’ve perfected the art of putting mascara on in a moving car. Usually I do mascara, some powder foundation, and lipstick. And pinch my cheeks.
You have incredible style. Do you plan your outfits? How much work goes into them?
It should never be work. That’s something I learned from Mr. Armani. True chic is effortless, and it’s got to come from you. It’s not what gets likes and views. So, yeah, I mean, I love fashion, I love costumes, and I’m also a great lover of rewearing things I’ve loved in the past. I would say my go-to is pretty much a well-pressed suit. Or a good pair of trousers.
The classics. Do you have a favorite Aussie expression?
My grandmother used to say, “Go to billy-o.” I think it was basically her polite way of saying get lost.
Do you use that these days?
I do! You know, what I really love is when people are doing things that are wildly inappropriate and you say to them, “What is this, bush week?” Do you have that expression in America?
No, but maybe now it will become a thing. What kind of style or beauty advice might you pass on to your kids when they’re ready?
Sunscreen. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen.