Margot Robbie is having quite a moment. Next month sees the UK release of Quentin Tarantino’s hotly anticipated Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood, in which she stars opposite Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio as ill-fated starlet Sharon Tate.
It was met with rave reviews when it premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May – during which the Australia-born actor was also announced as Chanel’s latest fragrance ambassador. As such, Margot has joined an exclusive club – previous inductees include Catherine Deneuve, Nicole Kidman and Keira Knightley.
‘I’ve grown up knowing Chanel my whole life,’ she says. ‘I’ve been working with them for a while now – it feels like a family.’
The brand created her masterfully understated gown for the 2018 Oscars, where she was nominated for her role in I, Tonya, a film about the troubled Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding, which she also co-produced.
Just 29, Margot has risen from Neighbours to the top of the A-list, proving her versatility in roles as varied as the ultra-glam wife of DiCaprio’s stockbroker in 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street, and Elizabeth I in last year’s Mary Queen of Scots.
A classical beauty with plenty of attitude, she’s the perfect fit to represent the legendary fashion label’s latest scent, Gabrielle Chanel Essence, a deeper, bolder interpretation of its predecessor, Gabrielle. Both were named for and inspired by the brand’s founder, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.
‘I think this perfume is fitting for where we’re at in the world,’ says Margot. ‘We’re entering a time when people are embracing the idea that femininity represents strength – and so they should. Women are strong, and distinctly feminine characteristics are also distinctly strong characteristics. Being feminine isn’t a sign of weakness any more.’
Margot’s Hollywood – post #MeToo and Time’s Up – stands in stark contrast to the world depicted in her new film, set in the late 1960s. ‘Now, more than ever, people are associating the word “feminine” with power. We’re no longer at the stage of women being stuck in a man’s world and having to be overtly masculine to try to compensate.’
Perfume, as Margot understands well, is unlike any other beauty product. Scent and memory are so linked that fragrance often has an emotional layer.
‘My earliest memories go back to when I was a little girl, smelling my mum’s perfume when she gave me a hug,’ she recalls. ‘I couldn’t wait until I was grown up enough to wear it. My teen years were filled with sickly sweet, muskier scents, then in my 20s I experimented with more masculine, spicy fragrances.
I was trying to figure out who I was; I tried every hairstyle and hair colour [too], and then eventually you get to a point where you know what works for you, which is where I’m at now. Today, I appreciate feminine, floral scents like Gabrielle Chanel Essence.’
She explains that in Essence, a white floral fragrance with jasmine and tuberose at its heart, ‘the floral notes, particularly tuberose, come forward more, but in a warm way. There’s something light and creamy about the scent as well.’
Warm and friendly from the off, Margot has retained a down-to-earth nature. When asked about her approach to ageing, health and fitness, for instance, she acknowledges that it’s part of her job to be in shape, but adds, ‘it’s all the things that we knew all along: wear SPF, drink lots of water, get enough sleep.
We keep trying all these ways to find a secret recipe for youth – this cream or that cream, this diet or that diet. And it’s all the stuff you knew from the beginning but were trying to find a way around. Ultimately, you realise, “Oh yeah, I do look my best when I’ve had 10 hours of sleep and drunk a litre of water.” It’s the simple things that work.’
As for her go-to make-up essentials, she seems surprised that anyone should care. ‘It’s pretty basic, nothing too exciting,’ she announces, before having a look in her make-up bag to confirm that she uses little more than an eyebrow pencil, mascara, lip balm, cream blush and a light foundation, which she mixes with ‘a little moisturiser and SPF’.
Yet she becomes animated when asked about her skincare regime. ‘Good skin is all about good skin prep,’ she insists, breathlessly describing a gadget she’s ‘obsessed with’. ‘I’ve been using this micro-current device called Ziip which has given me noticeable results. I’m not paid by the brand or anything, it’s really, really good,’ she laughs. Margot also swears by warming up her skin and relaxing her facial muscles with a ReFa roller before applying a face mask: ‘The 111Skin Rose Gold mask is unbelievable.’
However, it’s clear that her idea of beauty doesn’t come from any one product. ‘Something I’ve been talking about with my girlfriends lately is that we all look our best when we’re smiling and having fun – when I catch people in that moment when they’re genuinely laughing, that’s when they’re glowing and look gorgeous. I think having fun and being free is the most attractive thing… doing whatever makes you feel your best so that you show your best qualities to the world.’
So how does she balance the pressure to keep in shape with this body-positive attitude?
‘I love food, I love wine and I love having a good time with my friends. But I also don’t love the feeling of knowing that I don’t look my best,’ she says. ‘I’m always going to be walking the line between having as much fun as possible and continuing to take care of myself. Eating well and exercise need to be prevalent in my life so that I can feel my best, but I don’t want to dwell on it too much.’
Margot credits Pilates for keeping her strong and supple. ‘If I’m making a conscious effort to exercise, I work with a Pilates trainer on a reformer machine, and that suits me and my body best. But I like to play tennis, run around the park or do a dance class with girlfriends. Disguising exercise in your day-to-day activities is the funnest way to do it in my opinion.’
And that just about sums her up: fun, free-spirited and ultimately hard-working – not dissimilar to Coco Chanel herself.