Rumour has it that for every role Margot Robbie takes on, she chooses a different fragrance to wear to play it. And while we can't imagine what that must have meant for her to turn as sometimes-villainess Harley Quinn, or Leo's mischevious bombshell wife in The Wolf of Wall Street, we're almost certain that she chose Gabrielle Chanel Essence to spritz while she was playing Sharon Tate in Tarantino's latest blockbuster, Once A Upon A Time In Hollywood - the maison's brand-new scent, and the one that the Australian actress and producer has just been announced the face of.
"I pick a fragrance for every character I play because I feel that certain smells can transport you to a time and place, or create a specific feeling," Margot tells us. "When I go on set and apply the fragrance, I find it's easier to get into character. It's a powerful tool! I like to be able to differentiate my characters, to place them in the timeline of my life," she explains, articulating the marvel of the perfume's ability to conjure memory faster than almost anything else.
"It's cool to look back and see how your tastes evolve as your personality does," she continues. "I felt that the day I started wearing fragrance would be the day I knew who I was. It always seemed to be like the symbol of a woman." Speaking of which, Margot has established a reputation for choosing complex, nuanced and importantly, strong female roles - most notably Tonya Harding - and all boxes that Gabrielle Chanel herself certainly ticked.
"She means so many things to so many people," Margot explains. "The house has explored different facets of her personality through fragrance, but this feels like her truest self. It cuts to exactly who she was; direct but with a sense of effortless elegance. Vibrant, opulent; capturing both woman and house in its entirety."
Direct is right. Gabrielle famously once said, "I decided who I wanted to be and that is who I am." Words to live by for all empowered women. "I love that quote," Margot gushes, "And I really do believe that you determine your own destiny. That said, I don't know if that's how I would describe myself," she muses. "Ever since I was little my mum has always described me as determined and independent. I feel like I share with Gabrielle Chanel ideas about breaking the norm. It's completely liberating: the world really becomes your oyster."
"When I was on set with Nick Knight [who shot the campaign], I sensed maybe this is how she might have felt in her day: that you can be liberated by creativity, and that you can appreciate the beauty of chaos and make what you want of your world."
"Someone is always going to break the rules; it might as well be you."
If Gabrielle was here, we're sure she would relate. After all, she built an empire and a legacy on smashing stereotypes and liberating women from the shackles of corseted clothing. "I think the way I relate most to her is as a businesswoman," Margot tells us. "She was incredible in business, but also an artist. An iconoclast."
So what would Margot ask Gabrielle if she could? "I'd want to know at what moments she may have had doubts, and what made her forge ahead anyway. That's probably the secret behind her power."
From Harper's Bazaar Arabia's October Issue