Natalie Portman on the Transformative Power of Perfume

The actress and face of Miss Dior talks about fragrance, red lipstick, and revolution.

Marie Claire: How does makeup promote self-confidence?

Natalie Portman: It allows you to reveal who you are but also to protect by masking yourself. Sometimes you want a bold lipstick—red always makes me feel powerful, so I’ll wear Rouge Dior Ultra Rouge in 999—and sometimes no makeup at all. No matter what you decide, it doesn’t dictate who you are.

MC: Can fragrance be transformative too?

NP: Smell is the most emotional of the senses. It’s one of the earliest to develop, so scents hit you at your core and can take you back to a particular place and time. Jasmine takes me to Morocco, where I traveled a lot in my 20s, and orange blossom reminds me of visiting orange groves in Israel in my childhood.

MC: You’ve been the face of Miss Dior since 2010. Is that fragrance tied to any memories?

NP: I would say the shoot at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. We rode in a helicopter, and there was something so extravagant and beautiful about this wall of flowers there. It remains a sublime memory for me.

MC: And now there’s a new version of the fragrance, Miss Dior Eau de Toilette.
How is that scent transformative for you?

NP: It’s greener and fresher; I love the lily-of-the-valley note. It makes me feel like a more spontaneous version of myself.

MC: Is there a role you’ve played that’s influenced the way you do your makeup?

NP: For my first role, in The Professional [1994], the makeup artist on set used beet juice mixed with rose water for my character’s cheeks, and it always made me want to use the most natural products possible. And my grandmother always did very elaborate makeup, and I loved watching her spend hours at her vanity. The smell of her makeup was her smell to me.

MC: Who are the other women in your life who inspire or empower you?

NP: I’ve been lucky to meet so many women in entertainment who’ve inspired me with their talent and strength. I’m working for all people to have fair workplaces.

MC: Your Women’s March speech in Los Angeles last year referenced the revolution of desire. Do you think makeup or beauty can be revolutionary?

NP: I think everyone now feels free to use beauty products as much or as little as they want, and the relaxing of those constraints is a revolution in itself.

MC: Can celebrities play a part in this revolution?

NP: Yes. I don’t know who said courage was contagious, but it’s true. In Hollywood,
like everywhere else in the world, the message is out there. For a long time, women didn’t use their voice because it wasn’t considered feminine to express anger, and it stopped them from sharing their experiences. The fact that so many women have shared their stories, and understood they are not alone, is extremely powerful. In coming together, women will change the world.

This article appeared in the July 2019 issue of Marie Claire.


Taylore  Glynn

Taylore Glynn is the Beauty and Health Editor at Marie Claire, covering skincare, makeup, fragrance, wellness, and more. If you need her, she’s probably roasting a chicken, flying solo at the movies, or drinking a bad Negroni at JFK.