by Jane Larkworthy, W Magazine, July 2003
Liv Tyler fills Audrey Hepburns elegant shoes as Givenchys new it girl
Parfums Givenchy is returning to its origins. Returning to its glossy black makeup casing, returning to the feminine subtlety of a floral fragrance, and returning to the day when a memorable beauty was its poster child.
Enter the statuesque Liv Tyler, now cured up on a sofa in the LVMH Tower in New York, its sky high windows and killer views channeling the drop dead glamorous set of Down With Love, Tyler is the French companys new face, beginning with the September launch of its new scent, Very Irresistible Givenchy
And as intriguing as a fragrance launch from the house that brought us the classics L'Interdit and Amarige may be, the real attraction is Tyler. For not since the designers legendary association with Audrey Hepburn more than 40 years ago has Givenchy connected itself to a famous face.
Stylewise, Tyler is echoing Hepburns simplicity, sporting jeans, a t-shirt and a black velvet jacket, her green flats tossed on the floor as she tucks her feet beneath her, "Givenchy wanted to go back to its roots,"
she explains. "The cosmetics had been changed to this weird, modern packaging, and they just wanted to revamp that classic look."
Despite her natural, unstudied style, Tyler has always appreciated the joys of being a girl. She admits to trying on her mother Bebe Buell's lipstick and rouge years before teetering around in her high heels. It wasn't long after those dress up days that the teenage Tyler learned about the profitable side of the beauty world.
"When I was 14, Paulina Porizkova took pictures of me,"
explains Tyler casually. Her nonchalance about being photographed by a supermodel is bred, in no small part, from having rock star parents (as she has discussed, she has two fathers: Todd Rundgren, who she believed was her dad until the age of eight, and Steven Tyler, her biological father).
"At the time, Paulina had a contract with Estee Lauder, and she always said, 'get yourself a cosmetics contract,'
Tyler remembers. "As a businesswoman, she said it was a wonderful thing."
Sage advice if advice that only stunning daughters of rock stars are apt to receive but it wasn't the paycheck that intrigued Tyler; it was the sheer bounty of Porizkova's beauty booty. "Her bathroom was filled with not only all the Lauder products, but everything that Estee Lauder owned, like Prescriptives and Clinique,"
Tyler recalls. "She had boxes of powders and bubble baths, and I thought, How exciting, because Ive always been a product whore."
Not that Givenchy knew that. Or would use that kind of word. "What's important is that Liv is not just a face for an ad. It's everything about her that embodies Givenchy past and future an accomplished actress, a beauty who is not conventional but has presence, charisma and a charming spirit,"
says Camille McDonald, president and CEO of Parfums Givenchy Inc. "She has a sweetness that brings to mind the compassion of Audrey. All of her qualities communicate a personality to this brand that goes far beyond a face."
The Very Irresistible campaign will include television and print ads as well as personal appearances by Tyler. The commercial, shot in Paris, captures the retro feel of the jet setting early Sixties, showing its uber glam star exploring the sights of the city.
The shoot itself turned into a reunion of sorts. "The cinematographer was Darius Khondji, who shot Stealing Beauty,"
says Tyler. "I hadn't seen him for years, and I'd always wanted to work with him again. We had a blast shooting the ad. It was like a little movie, all black and white and really beautiful."
Tyler has braced herself for comparisons aesthetic and otherwise with the iconic Hepburn. "It's slightly terrifying in some ways to think that she and I are the only women to be connected to Givenchy, but it's very inspiring,"
she says, smiling. "I really don't compare myself to her. I don't like to compare to anybody."
Hepburn was never formally contracted to Givenchy, in fact she appeared in the original ad for the house's L'Interdit scent in 1958 as a favor to designer Hubert de Givenchy, who was her close friend. Hepburn was the first film star ever publicly associtated with a fragrance. Coincidentally, Hepburn and Tyler both became Givenchy faces at age 25.
Though Chanel No. 5 was the scent of choice for both her mother and her grandmother, Tyler has always had a fragrance wardrobe. "I wake up in the morning and I look at all the bottles and decide,"
explains Tyler, whose collection contains everything from Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien and Gardenia Passion to Joy not the classic scent, but an oil she discovered from a small company based in upstate New York called Young Living ("It picks you up when you're having a slump,"
she says). And now, of course, her bathroom will be filled with Very Irresistible. "I don't like a lot of the big brand perfumes. This one I like because it kind of disappears,"
she notes. "I like perfume to be really subtle, not the kind you can smell when you stand two feet away from someone. Perfume should only be for people who are allowed to stand close."
Tyler will also be representing the relaunch of Givenchy cosmetics and skin care, which will land on counters in the U.S. next year.
Until then, she's campaigning for a slogan she thought up for the new fragrance: "That it's fresh enough for day and memorable enough for night. Right ?"
Sounds like Professor Porizkova taught her student well.
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