The Queen's Gambit star tells InStyle about Beth Harmon's signature scent, why she still wears sweaters with holes in them, and shares a horror story about a pricey ring.

By Samantha Sutton
Dec 21, 2020 @ 4:49 pm
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Anya Taylor Joy
Credit: Getty Images/InStyle.com

Something you might not have known about The Queen's Gambit's Beth Harmon, even if you devoured all seven episodes in record time? The chess prodigy has a signature scent.

"Beth smells like a lot of black pepper, sandalwood, and vodka," Anya Taylor-Joy, the actress who plays the lead character, reveals to InStyle over the phone. "I would even put a tiny bit of vodka on my wrist sometimes when she was having a bad day."

Anya
Credit: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX

According to Taylor-Joy, this trick is something that helps her to get into character, and she's used it for a few different roles, not just the Netflix hit.

“I tend to make different characters their own little perfume with essential oils," she says. "But, I always travel with my fragrance, too, because it's nice to be reminded of who you are sometimes.”

Her fragrance, of course, is Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb, which she is currently the face of, appearing in ad campaigns for the brand. On top of wearing it regularly, she's also found that it makes the perfect gift, especially considering you're able to choose from different variations and levels of intensity, ensuring it suits the receiver's taste.

"I've never seen anyone be disappointed," she swears, reflecting on the numerous times she's given it as a present. "Nobody is unhappy when they receive it."

Even though Taylor-Joy definitely has a go-to fragrance, the same can't be said when it comes to clothing.

"I've been different people for such a long time," she tells us. "I know it sounds silly, but because I've shot all of my projects back-to-back, you are only in your own clothes while going into work in the morning, then somebody gives you a costume, and then you put them on for like an hour at night to get home. So, I haven't had a lot of time to work out my personal style."

Recently, however, Taylor-Joy came to a realization: She actually doesn't have a set style — and doesn't consider that a bad thing.

"I like to play dress up. It's really fun to build an outfit rather than being stuck in any particular thing. Just deciding, ‘Okay, what kind of girl do I want to be today?’"

Anya Taylor-Joy
Credit: Terence Patrick/CBS via Getty Images

As for the items that Taylor-Joy does make sure to always have in her closet, they're extremely unexpected — and very, very old.

"When I was a kid, I was a total tomboy and always wearing my brother’s hand-me-downs. So, there have been a couple of jumpers of his that I can't bear to give up, even though they're like covered in holes," she tells us, regarding the oldest pieces in her closet. "And, my brother's like 10 years older than me, so they've been around for a while. But, they remind me of home and I can't give them up. I really have very nice clothes, and I feel very lucky about that, but for some reason, I just tend to gravitate towards the threadbare, hole-y jumper. It doesn't smell like home anymore, but if I close my eyes I can pretend it does."

It's a sweet, sentimental story, but even so, it's doesn't mean she won't splurge if she wants something, much like her character, Beth. In fact, Taylor-Joy fully remembers her first expensive purchase, partly because she lost the piece soon after.

“There was a ring that I really loved that I bought that for myself, maybe four years ago," she reveals. "It wasn't ridiculous, but at the time I was like, ‘I've never spent so much money in my life!’ And, the first thing that happened is I went out dancing and, because it was a men's ring, it flew off my finger. I was dancing, having the time of my life, and then, all of a sudden, I just felt the ring slide off."

Unfortunately, Taylor-Joy never found the accessory, but it ended up working out in the end.

"Luckily, the brand was very sweet and was like, ‘We'll send you another one. It's okay.’ So, I was gifted it. But at the time, I was very proud of myself for being able to buy that ring."

Thinking about the holidays, we asked Taylor-Joy what she might gift her Queen's Gambit character if given the chance, and the actress has the perfect answer.

"I'd give her a monogrammed travel wallet for her to put her passport in, and a little notebook for her to start writing down the things that happen to her," she says. "Beth doesn't write, and I feel like she would benefit from writing. The girl needs to vent, man. She's not the best at speaking, so I think writing would suit her."