When I meet Jennifer Lawrence in a suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel in LA, I’m pounced upon by a pint-size dog hell-bent on licking me to death. Pippi, Jennifer’s beloved Jack Russell Terrier mix, is like her canine security detail sent in to sniff out bad journalists. “Well, she seems to like you,” Jennifer laughs.
It’s a clever tactic as Jennifer has a love/hate relationship with the press, often feeling “scrutinised, defensive and angry” when under the microscope of a press tour or junket. But I’m lucky enough to be granted face-time with Jennifer because she is fronting Dior’s new fragrance, Joy – the first scent launched by the French fashion house in 70 years.
Dior has a predilection for choosing strong, empowered, articulate women to front their campaigns (Charlize Theron for J’Adore and Natalie Portman for Miss Dior), and with Maria Grazia Chiuri now driving change as the first female artistic director at Dior, it’s befitting that the house looks to someone as confident, mature and relatable as Jennifer to take Dior Parfums into the future. With sandalwood, citrus and musk notes, Joy smells like happiness in a bottle – its lightness, optimism and vibrancy a clever synchronicity with the 28-year-old actor.
Dior's new perfume Joy bottles Jennifer's unbridled energy and passionate love for life.
The connection between Jennifer and Dior runs deep – “Every monumental moment with my career has been in a Dior dress,” Jennifer says – but it’s the “morals and ethics” of the maison that truly bind the two powerhouses. When Maria Grazia Chiuri launched a female empowerment movement in 2017 with T-shirts emboldened with ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ slogans, Jennifer wore the T-shirt and lead the charge. “Feminism is a passion of mine,” she says, but advocates most for “equality. I just want to be treated and paid equally. It’s cut and dry for me. I want the same opportunities. I’m very proud to be a feminist. However, if I give myself a label now, in 10 years it’s going to be the wrong one, so for now, I just believe in equality.”
Pay parity in Hollywood is a topic she willingly goes into battle for. “It’s also something I’m passionate about, because I’d been working so long and I felt no matter how long I worked, or how many accolades I won, or how much money one of my movies would make, I just kept hitting this brick wall that I was up against as a woman. When you put your heart and soul into something and you work so hard… The only thing to be done is we have to change. Be transparent.”
Transparency and honesty are key for Jennifer – as is choice, something that stretches from freedom of speech to how a woman portrays herself to how we navigate the rules and arbitrary restrictions placed on women and their bodies. “If you are going to put on mascara because you feel better when you’re eyes are accented, then great. If you feel more beautiful without make-up on… It’s important for it to be personal, not do anything for other people.”
As for the often-contentious topic of airbrushing and the fashion and beauty industries’ unattainable ideals, she laughs: “I’m partial to it, because I love getting Photoshopped. But… everyone needs to know that it’s CG, and you can’t look at [the images] and expect to look like that. If what you’re looking at is too good to be true, it is.”
When it comes to detractors, Jennifer won’t be distracted. “I stay away from reading stuff. There’s so much… There’s my opinion and then there are the people I love and respect and those are the opinions that matter to me. The opinions of people who have never met me mean nothing.” Does she ever get tempted to pen a right-to-reply to something she’s stumbled across? “Oh yeah,” she laughs, “I write a lot of imaginary speeches – a lot!”
"Every smile, every laugh was real," Jennifer says of filming the campaign for Joy
Whilst actively removed from social media, Jennifer understands that the digital era brings both light and dark. “You know, I’ve been so impressed with this younger generation,” Jennifer muses. “The joke was on us – we thought social media was making them all dumber, and it turns out, they’re smarter because they’re all communicating and are more vocal.”
The complexities of social media and the film industry aside, Hollywood has granted Jennifer an opportunity to cross paths with strong women who have shaped Jennifer both personally and professionally. “When I was 19, I worked with Jodie [Foster]. I remember thinking that she was very famous but so normal, and hoping that if it all worked out and I became successful, that I would end up like her.” Her other allies include Cameron Diaz – “She taught me how to cook, but she’s also just been this really spiritual guide, she’s a really brilliant woman,” – and Emma Stone – “She’s one of my best friends. She’s the love of my life. We’re exact opposites, but we’re also complementary. We just laugh our heads off,” she smiles, “I’m a girl’s girl.”
This laughter and unfettered vivacity is what Dior has mined from Jennifer and metaphorically poured into Joy to create a scent that arouses hope and happiness. “Christian [Dior] created his first perfume [in 1947] to make women feel happy, so it’s really etched in Dior’s make-up,” she says. “I feel now is the perfect time to bring something joyous and happy, and help celebrate women.”
From the September 2018 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia