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Nov 2, 2023
Elle Fanning: In Her Element

GRAZIA sits down with Hollywood star Elle Fanning in Cannes to discuss her role as the latest Rabanne girl, her next big project, and the ebbs and flows of being famous

In person, Elle Fanning embodies young, contemporary America. Or at least how Americans would like the rest of the world to view them: intelligent, worldly, vivacious, sensible, kind. On our screens of late, the 25 year old brought an 18th century Russian queen to life in louche, deeply irreverent comedy The Great (season three is now streaming on Stan in Australia). It is just another big credit to add to her already illustrious resume: Maleficent (and its sequel), The Beguiled, Mary Shelley, The Girl From Plainville, the list goes on. Indeed, it goes back to 2001 when Fanning was just two years old and already starring in big ticket films.

As she sits opposite me, sipping tea in a palatial hotel suite along La Croisette in Cannes, it’s like talking to a long-time girlfriend, one wise beyond her years. But as down to earth as Fanning is, she reminds me – in one simple anecdote – that she has been famous her entire life.

“I went to my other proms but the senior prom lined up on the same day as one of my film premieres. So, my date flew out [to Cannes], my Mum also flew out, and we had a prom night here.”

The year was 2016, the film was The Neon Demon starring Fanning, Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks, and the prom dress was Zuhair Murad couture. With all of her film credits, and some major milestone moments experienced through the lens of being a celebrity, it’s fitting for luxuriate Rabanne to tap Fanning as their latest ambassador and muse for their glamorous ‘it’ girl fragrance, Fame Parfum.

Sexier and darker than last year’s release, Fame Parfum reinforces the original formula’s heart of jasmine, creamy incense, and patchouli, the latter a synonym of sensual nights and being bold. An addictive layer of musk, known as helvetolide, is added for a new level of intensity, one that, like a famous actress, is sure to make itself known in a room, and guarantee a long-lasting sillage. The bottle features a black version of the iconic, ever-enduring Rabanne micro-mini. (Mr Rabanne presented a collection in 1966 titled Twelve Unwearable Dresses which showed off the dress, a piece constructed of square and rectangular aluminium plates joined with metal rings. Iterations were famously worn by Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, and more recently, Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid).

Ahead, the girliest of girl chats with Elle Fanning who discusses the new fragrance, the transformative power of a Rabanne dress, how she gets ready for a night out, and the less shiny sides to being famous.

GRAZIA: The Cannes Film Festival red carpet, and the steps of the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière, are arguably the biggest and most glamorous moments dedicated to cinema in the world. When we speak about fame, is attending a film festival like Cannes one of its pinnacles?
Elle Fanning: One hundred per cent, it’s so glamorous! The red carpet is so wide and the photographers are on either side which is quite unusual. Usually, you don’t have to think about a 360-degree view, especially when picking out your dress. This way, [the dress] has to look good from all angles. So, it is the pinnacle of glamour to me, and also the festival is very special to me – this is my fifth time. A lot of memories have happened at this festival and you can’t help but feel the fame – there’s so many famous people around you. The festival also has that history of Old Hollywood and movie stars. You do think about who has walked the stairs before you.

GRAZIA: The iridescent paillettes of Rabanne’s mini dresses have been worn by Audrey Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin – and now you! How does it feel to be a part of such a storied fashion house?
EF:
To be a part of such an iconic brand like Rabanne that has that history – you can feel it in the brand. Those women were such modern women of their times. Jane Fonda, Jane Birkin, Audrey Hepburn – they have a certain quality to them, and I think that represents what the Rabanne woman is. They want to be loud, and they want to stand out, because those dresses jingle when you walk and they glitter! The women before me represent confidence, and so to be picked as a Rabanne woman is quite special because that means the [brand] kind of sees that in me.

GRAZIA: You’ve said in the past that wearing a Rabanne garment is like “putting on stylish armour”. Can you elaborate a little bit on this and the transformative power of wearing Rabanne?
EF:
The metal work! [The brand] have explained to me and I’ve seen the artisans who hand make the pieces with pliers and tools at the brand’s stores – it takes hours upon hours to just make one dress, and you can feel that. It is armour, it is metal after all! But you can feel this sense of, ‘I can take on the world’. They’re quite fun, they’re great party dresses.

GRAZIA: Tell us about the new Rabanne fragrance Fame. What memories/daydreams does this scent conjure up for you?
When you’re younger, you buy the sweet, cotton candy scents, and then you grow out of that and think, ‘I’m more sophisticated than that now’. When I smell [Fame], it takes me back to filming the commercial. We shot in Paris and shut down a Rabanne store to film at, like, 3am. We were dancing in the store and on the streets of Paris. And I love the bottle, I’ve been giving it to a lot of my friends.

GRAZIA: Have you ever used fragrance to embody a character?
EF:
I know people who do, and make specific fragrances for each character they play. I’ve worked with actors who have done that. I’ve never done it. But I would like to try to.

GRAZIA: Tell me about how you get ready for a date night, or a night out with your girlfriends – and how this fragrance becomes part of it.
EF:
The fragrance is like a cherry on top for me. I do my makeup first, then I get dressed, then I do my hair. That’s my step routine. I can get ready in 30 minutes too, it doesn’t take me long. That doesn’t include washing my hair [laughs]. I wash it twice a week. I don’t wash it much. I have really curly hair, and I straighten it a lot, so when I have to wash my hair, it’s like a whole thing! Detangling it – it’s like, ‘OK, this is going to be a whole situation’. But applying fragrance is the last thing that I do. I spritz it into the air, I walk into it, and spray it on my arm.

GRAZIA: You have been acting almost your entire life. Our readers would be really interested to know the less-shiny sides of fame. What’s been an unexpected challenge of growing up in the spotlight?
EF:
I’ve been acting since I was two years old, so there’s never really been a time where I haven’t known what it’s like to not have that in my life. Obviously fame ebbs and flows and it’s not like an upward trajectory, but I think social media coming into my life was a hard thing. This can relate to anyone, but looking at those curated images and comparing yourself to other people… I think sometimes people think famous people are invincible and it’s like, ‘No!’ I have to kind of remind myself that [social media] is not real [life] and [ask myself] why am I getting in this head space.

GRAZIA: You’re always smiling and it’s so beautiful to see. The Rabanne woman is radiant and self-confident. What’s your go-to when you’re having a bit of a down day?
EF:
When I’m having a down day, I want to just stay in bed with my laptop and watch Netflix, or I take a bath. I take a lot of tubs! I have always been that way. I’ll watch shows in the tub. I’ll set up a stool with my computer and be like, ‘OK, I just need to get out of this,’. Also, hanging out with friends is a good pick-me-up to force yourself to not just stay in bed. I just go out and have a good time, that’s important.

GRAZIA: We absolutely loved you in The Girl From Plainville. Will we see you take on another dark role like that one?
EF:
Yes, for sure. I’m drawn to darker roles. They are more complex in a way. As a woman, it is still hard to find those layered characters that have a villainous side, or a darker side. There’s something complicated and interesting about them. I’m so not interested in one-dimensional [characters], I don’t want to see that. I’m always looking to challenge myself more.

GRAZIA: What projects are you working on? What can we expect to see you in next?
EF:
I’m producing more projects. My sister and I have a production company together so we’re producing a documentary right now, just getting a little bit more behind the scenes. I love having my sister with me, that’s very important.

Editor’s note: This interview took place prior to the Actor’s Strike. [Source]


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The Great (TV Series)

Role: Catherine
Release Date: 2020
A royal woman living in rural Austria during the seventeenth century is forced to choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia, when she marries an Emperor.

The Nightingale

Role: Isabelle
Release Date: 2023
The lives of two sisters living in France are torn apart at the onset of World War II. Based on Kristin Hannah's novel 'The Nightingale'.

Francis and the Godfather

Role: Ali MacGraw
Release Date: 202?
Young director Francis Ford Coppola faces off against producer Robert Evans during the production of 'The Godfather.'

Chippendales

Role: Stratten
Release Date: 202?
The founder of the all-male strip club, Chippendales, becomes suspicious of the New York choreographer he hired to help turn it into a highly-successful enterprise.

I Am Sybil

Role: Mason
Release Date: 202?
Examines the circumstances surrounding the case of Sybil, one of the first well-known instances of dissociative identity disorder which raised issues of identity and mental health in the public eye.

Rosebushpruning

Role: Unknown
Release Date: 202?
Follows a young man suffering from epilepsy who plots the murders of his dysfunctional family.

A Complete Unknown

Role: Sylvie Russo
Release Date: 202?
A young Bob Dylan shakes up the folk music scene when he plugs in his electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
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