Elle Fanning believes in this makeup technique for radiant skin
The new face of Paco Rabanne’s Hall of Fame chats about her lucky backpack, favorite fragrances and red carpet memories.
Our The One Thing collection is Sparknotes versions of the products, rituals, and moments your favorite celebrities and influencers believe in – their go-to, must-haves, and indispensables. So go ahead – take a brief, intimate glimpse into their lives through the things (and people, and moments) they hold dear.
Elle Fanning and I sat face-to-face at the Plaza Hotel and referred to the bottle of perfume between us as “her. It may seem silly, but considering we’re talking about the new Paco Rabanne Fame fragrance, it makes perfect sense: the bottle is shaped like a little golden robot wearing a pair of cat-eye masks and one of the brand’s signature silver lockets dresses. Spiked boots and some earrings completed her look.
When I point out that we’ve been giving “her” a bit of personality, Fanning laughs and says that she’s basically treating the bottle like another actor in a perfume campaign (“It’s definitely a person – they have a soul! “) in which she is the star. The ad shows Elle breaking into the brand’s Paris store to play with Fame, wearing her best clothes from the ’60s and ’70s. If anyone else had tried it, it might have gotten tacky quickly, but thanks to Fanning’s trademark whimsy and charming smile, it’s pretty charming.
It’s this playfulness that makes Fanning one of my favorite actors today, both on and off the screen. In her decade plus in the industry, her projects have always felt authentic to her, from Sofia Coppola’s sun-drenched somewhere to the great, both fun and gorgeous. On the carpet, she’s no stranger to vintage moments (more on that later) and often elevates lesser-known designers, such as Sharon Long, the costume designer who made Fanning’s 2022 Emmy dress for The Majestic. And I’ll forget to mention her secret TikTok account, which stumbles around feeling like a part of an exclusive club.
I chatted with Elle about some of her favorite fashion moments, her lucky charms and her beauty secrets. All this and more.
Wearing Paco Rabanne to fame is a way for her to feel
“Paco is an iconic brand. They’ve been around for a long time and are very innovative. In the ’60s, they were a little bit groundbreaking with their iconic clothes. Now, they’re still innovative and pushing the boundaries in a way, just like they did in the ’60s. When I wear their clothes and fragrances, I feel like I have a piece of armor – that’s real confidence, because I think you have to have a certain level of certainty about yourself to wear it. Because it’s so unique. And it’s all about the individual.
“I really love the duality of feminine strength and rigidity that they show in their clothes, and the fragrance is particularly playful, as is the whole campaign.”
The decade that inspired her style
“I’ve always loved vintage fashion. Growing up, I saved a lot of clothes and was very addicted to the old glamour of Hollywood – you know, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn – and I was always frustrated that I didn’t get when people wore pencil skirts on airplanes Life.
“[At the time] women’s fashion was definitely uncomfortable. We can do what we want to do now, we’re a little more free. But it’s so glamorous and you see it in the pictures, and gosh, that’s it, so pretty. So I’ve always loved it. 60s was fun because it wasn’t as constricting. It was [more] free, short skirts and looser dresses. So for sure, I have an affinity for that [era]. I like the cat eyes, I like the little bumps [in the hair].”
The kind of hairstyle she longed to try
“I wish I could have bangs; I think I’d look good with bangs, but I can’t do it with my hair, you know? Your hair has to be thick and you need to cut it a lot, so that would be my dream. I would love to have thick bangs. Or Sienna Miller’s bangs could be great; they’re a little thin. But I’m a big partner. I like the side part, so I can fake it.”
The one outfit that goes perfectly with the perfume
“I wear it with sweatpants! I spray it every day. I use the perfume as an accent piece to make me feel like, okay, I’m ready to walk out the door. I think you can wear it any way you want, I mean, when I saw Her [perfume], I thought it was perfect for a night out. It’s so metallic, so [with] some kind of metallic thing. I have some Paco necklaces that are like big, thick chains that look really good.”
A fashion look that makes her feel like she’s
“It may not actually be what people think it is. For now, at least, I’m simple. I want a good pair of pants and a good button-down shirt. I like coats or jackets – I think coats and jackets can change your whole look. It’s hard because I live in Los Angeles and I want to wear all the nice big jackets, but at least I’m in London, so I can wear them there. I think it’s just as good as a man’s cut, nice suit. You can never go wrong with a good suit.
“Or, funny enough, since I’m wearing this, I think a lot of my friends will say I’m a white dress, like a long white dress is me. I have so many …… like prairie skirts. It always looks good. It works.”
The one thing she always has
“It’s funny. I have this backpack, which is like my lucky charm. Or I had it, and I lost it, which was sad. But I got it back – not the same [exact] one, but we found it somehow. It’s a Snoopy – I think it’s a Jansport – a backpack that I’ve used in basically every job, every movie. I put all my scripts in it. It’s my stuff.
“And then there’s my pillow! Not on set, but in my trailer – I’m like a real pillow maniac. I take my pillow anywhere. [I don’t nap] in between takes, but on my lunch break, I can nap. I’m a really good napper, and I can sleep anywhere. I like to sleep on planes. I once slept for 16 hours straight on a plane coming back from South Africa. That’s a record.”
Her last purchase and favorite thing
“I love… Justin Bieber wore them out, but the star face [lumpy patches]. They’re fantastic. They’re revolutionary and I love them. I think I saw an ad for them on Instagram, but now they’re A Thing. But I love them so much. They really work.”
Her forever favorite red carpet look
“I think the one that immediately comes to mind is the Dior Cannes [look] with the hat. That was really amazing. That was a moment. I think I wanted to pay homage to the New Look, which was for the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood premiere. So I just thought it would go hand in hand.
“The hat was actually an afterthought. The hat wasn’t supposed to compliment the look. But when we were there trying it on, I thought, ‘I think it needs a hat.’ So it wasn’t supposed to be that way, but found this hat and they had it. I just loved that moment. I think it’s so unconventional. It’s not your normal prom dress.”
A behind-the-scenes moment she’ll never forget
“I did faint the night before [with the Dior look]. It was a Prada pink dress. Maybe it was jet lag, I was on my period and I fainted. But my sister was with me, so she kept me together. But I’m “known to faint. I’ve fainted a lot of times in my life, so it’s not a bad thing. It wasn’t terrible. It’s like, ‘I’m out of here!’ [laughs]. But it’s very much like oh, [charming].”
The one thing she does before bed
“I always take a bath every night. I take a shower. Sometimes I’ll watch a show, but I don’t like to turn on the TV in my room, like I wouldn’t do that. I’ll watch it on my computer, but my room has to be pitch black. No light can seep in. It has to be pitch black. I mean, I’d probably look at my phone as the last thing, like watching TikTok with me getting ready for Alex Earle. She’s a phenomenon! She just started showing up on my TikTok. I didn’t even know who she was. Now she’s everywhere. It’s fun to watch. I don’t know why!”
A beauty tip she learned on set
“I have an amazing woman, Erin Ayanian, who works with me. She always does my makeup for the red carpet and the movies. We don’t trim my eyebrows, I don’t do anything to my eyebrows. It’s definitely a tip. My lashes are really stubborn …… I’ll wear false lashes, but we like the look without them now. I wish my lashes were curled, but they’re not. They just flatten out and you try to curl them, but they come back. But, hey, so we’ll just have to live with it.”
One of her tricks for creating a natural look
“We’ve been doing freckles like waaaay back. If you do foundation and you want it to look like skin, that’s Erin’s tip. Now they have a freckle pencil. We use an eyebrow pencil and a little gel. We are so mad at ourselves. We should make a product! Because I was doing this years ago. Years ago! I love them. They’re so cute.”