On a scorching Sunday in early August, Chloë Sevigny woke up, made a watermelon salad, and rushed to catch a ferry out to the Rockaways, to join the thousands of sun-baked and irritable New Yorkers who congregate there every summer weekend. When she got there, she realised she'd forgotten something: her perfume.
"I said to my boyfriend, 'Oh my god, I forgot to put on my perfume, and I feel naked,'" she says. "I also realised, I've been doing all this press and I haven't been including perfume as part of my beauty regimen. Because I don't think of it as 'beauty' — it transcends that. It's just part of life."
Sevigny has always gravitated to rose scents; for years she wore a now-discontinued fragrance from Comme des Garçons, simply called "Rose." These days, the actress-director is reaching for Little Flower, her brand-new fragrance in collaboration with Régime des Fleurs that launches today. The eau de parfum is lush and juicy, with blackcurrant, peony, pomelo, and a very generous (and very expensive) swig of Turkish rose absolute. After testing 33 potential iterations, Sevigny and the brand's founders, Alia Raza and Ezra Woods, landed on this one and topped it off with a rich, smooth note of black tea, another one of Sevigny's favourite scents.
"I was very involved in the process," Sevigny says — not least because Raza and Woods are her longtime friends and frequent collaborators. She first worked with Régime des Fleurs and the fashion industry's go-to sound designer, Michel Gaubert, to record a spoken-word ode to Saint Thérèse, the Catholic patron saint of flowers, in 2015. At that point, Sevigny had known the duo for well over a decade, since Woods was a fresh-out-of-high-school aspiring stylist from a long line of career florists. "I believe in them and their vision so much, and I fell in love with Régime and all their scents," she says. "We did the poem, and then they said, 'What do you think about doing a perfume?' It was a no-brainer."
The result is a dreamy, addictive blend that is partly inspired by New York City — specifically, the need to feel put-together when your days are spent gripping subway poles and striding down long avenues. Sevigny moved to the city from Connecticut when she was 19 and has lived there ever since, a decision that she credits with keeping her above the usual celebrity fray despite her extensive filmography and the '90s "It"-girl status that follows her to this day.
"I never feel like I've really been a part of Hollywood," she says. "I have a lot of friends who are involved in the arts in different aspects and that helps keep me grounded — just being close with people whose worlds are so different from mine, and how that affects them and how they navigate it." There was a period in her career, Sevigny says, that she was being encouraged to be more "approachable ... like some pretty Hollywood actress." But at 44, after 25 years in the industry, the erstwhile East Village mainstay finds that she feels more appreciated than ever for being who she is. "It's not just that one thing that's being celebrated anymore," she says. "We're all being celebrated. I regret those moments where I wasn't being true to myself."
After all, being true to herself has gotten Sevigny to where she is: a versatile actress, an innovative filmmaker, a fashion icon, and now, perhaps, the creator of a best-selling fragrance with her name on it.