French Actress Clémence Poésy Will Make You Fall Hard for Perfume

The star of Chloé's Love Story campaign shares how scent shapes her life.

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Fragrance is a huge part of my identity. I don't really wear makeup and I never do much with my hair, but I would feel naked without perfume. There's something so poetic about it, isn't there? The idea that a perfumer can capture a moment, or a story, and put it in a bottle—as an actress, I find that really cool.

When I played Joan of Arc in The Silence of Joan, I wore Chanel No.19. It still conjures her strength for me, so I wear it when I'm playing a dominant character. But personally, I prefer something feminine that leaves a bit of a trace behind. I like it when people tell me that they can smell my perfume after I leave a room, or when I pull out a scarf from the previous winter and it still holds that scent.

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More than any other sense, smell just has this power to transport you. Think about when you're on the street and a person walks past wearing the same perfume or cologne of someone you've known in your life. It's a flashback, straight away. My mother's perfume was Clarins Eau Dynamisante, which reminds me of her, while I used to wear something by Cacharel, as most French girls do. And I had this teacher—I don't know which particular perfume she wore, but when she walked into the classroom, it would have such an impact. Maybe she wore a bit too much of it, but that was part of her persona.

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Other scents can be transporting, too, like the smell of Nivea sunscreen, which makes me think of summer. And basil—I love basil—that's also the scent of summer. Winter is the smell of fireplaces and coffee first thing in the morning. Home is Diptyque's Musc candle. And if friendship were a scent, it would be tea. I have this coconut green tea from Golden Moon, and whenever friends come to visit, they're always like, "Can we please have that tea?" It has the most amazing smell, so delicate that you barely notice the coconut in there.

Love would be a different type of scent, more like skin—that good, faintly sweaty aroma. There's something quite chemical that happens when people meet and are attracted, and scent is probably part of that. When I first smelled Love Story, I thought it really captured the feeling of just discovering someone new. It's a seduction, but subtle—fresh and floral, not overpowering or aggressive.


Poésy's Favorite Fragrances:

Chloé Love Story Eau de Parfum, $105; neimanmarcus.com.

"The bottle is reminiscent of the locks that lovers put on the Pont des Arts bridge, in Paris."

Diptyque Musc Candle, $60; diptyqueparis.com.

"I put these candles everywhere. They remind me of home."

Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo, $13.50; aveda.com.

"Aveda makes amazing shampoos that have an essential oil type of scent—fresh and aromatic, not sugary."

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Dish Soap in Geranium, $4; mrsmeyers.com.

"I bring back Meyer's cleaning products whenever I visit America. I like the basil, and geranium, and lavender. I am completely obsessed! Someone needs to tell them to open a store in France."

Golden Moon Coconut Pouchong Tea, $8; goldenmoontea.com.

"Everyone who smells this likes it. I buy massive bags at a time."

You should also check out:

Perfume Promiscuity: Why Signature Scents Are a Thing of the Past

Hermès Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena On Why a Signature Fragrance is Like True Love

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