Most celebs don’t really want get into it—they’ve got a show, or a movie, or a product to sell. It’s not that they’re not serious people, it’s more that they’ve got a job to do.
But, Dakota Johnson was up for both: getting into her popular (and very pretty) campaign for Gucci Bloom and then diving deeper, into the nature of beauty, whether fame is truly useful, and what the responsibilities of fashion and Hollywood should be to women. We didn’t get too far (it was, alas, a timed interview), but here goes:
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Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, is almost as famous as a movie star. When did you first meet?
We met at his first Gucci show in New York City. I thought he was so cool. And I was very—I don’t know, I thought he looked very cool and mysterious, and I wanted to know him and talk to him. He was really sweet to me, and I like that in a person.
Some people are really into scents, and some aren’t that involved. Where are you on that spectrum?
I use scent and essential oils a lot. I use lavender to sleep; I put it in the bath. I have candles and incense everywhere. And I like when rooms just smell like feelings. I like loving, cozy, romantic scents.
For you, what’s a “loving” smell?
Well, really warm sort of soft florals are the scents I’m drawn towards, so it’s been good with [Gucci Bloom]. I like them in a home, too… and I love the scent of roast vegetables and soups and baked goods, obviously. I’m a cozy girl.
Are you a pumpkin spice girl?
Oh yeah, I made pumpkin bread the other day. And I like pumpkin spice scents and flavors, but you know what I don’t like? Those pumpkin spice Christmas candles. I’d rather smell something else.
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What about the infamous Starbucks latte?
I used to love the egg nog latte from Starbucks even better. But it has like 5000 calories or something crazy. It’s really bad for you, but it’s so good.
There are online forums devoted entirely to your denim choices. Where do you get your jeans?
These are APC jeans, but I had them tailored. I do that often.
Are you someone who tailors your hoodies and t-shirts, too?
No, honestly, I really struggle with t-shirts [that fit]. I mostly just take them from my friends.
You’re famous for playing characters with really high stakes, in incredibly stressful or dangerous situations. [Editor’s note: Go see Suspiria ASAP.] How do you leave the craziness of your characters—essentially, the craziness of the workplace—at the door?
I think it’s just a matter of being able to get a grip on what’s really important in life and the world. If I’m on a set and if there’s something happening in the story that’s extremely traumatic or stressful, at the end of the day, I’m just making a movie. It’s fun. My job is really fun. Things that are fucking crazy and stress-inducing and would typically bring you over the edge? You can bring yourself back from that if you focus on the nice things and bring yourself into the good parts of your reality more.
Do you prefer to focus on personal things for perspective, or watch the news?
The news is the thing that sends me into a spiral. It sends me into darkness far deeper and quicker than any fake scenario, because then I have this feeling of helplessness, and that’s the worst thing: When you see something bad and you can’t do anything about it. But I guess the point of that is trying to do something about it.
Absolutely. our Gucci Bloom shoot is gorgeous. Can I ask your advice on posing for photos? I’m bad at it. Like, I’ll never be famous on Instagram.
You want to be famous on Instagram?
I think it’s powerful. I’d love the type of platform where if I posted something like my voter registration, that would mobilize other people to get involved.
But you can do that anyway!
True! But [years ago, as an intern], what was hard was, I would read letters to the magazines, and so many girls were like, “I don’t look like these models!” And I was like, “I don’t either! But I still have kind of the same life, being involved in fashion and doing what I love. I swear.” And I wish those girls could see it.
Yeah, I see what you’re saying but I think that’s something that’s so misguided, and I don’t love it. Especially young women who are writing letters to magazines—I think that’s on the magazines to put some more real-looking women in it, instead of some teenager that’s been under the knife five times. That’s not reality at all. That’s not what makes someone beautiful at all.
Maybe aesthetically it could be considered “beautiful,” but no. To me, beauty is really the way you behave. Beauty is how you treat people. Beauty is your heart and how you give it to others, and how you give and receive love and respect. So that’s the thing that anyone, no matter how famous you are or what you look like, put that on Instagram all you want. That’s what’s important.