Actress Dakota Johnson discovers life’s magic scents


Dakota Johnson emerged from the balcony of a hotel room inside the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” star was impeccably dressed and looked statuesque clad in a black Gucci blouse and A.P.C. jeans.

With her Anastasia Steele-Christian Grey days behind her with last winter’s release of “Fifty Shades Freed,” Johnson closed 2018 by starring in the much-buzzed-about horror film “Suspiria.” The latter movie was directed by Luca Guadagnino, and rumors have been swirling for months that Johnson might appear in the director’s sequel to his 2017 Academy Award-nominated film, “Call Me by Your Name.”

“Working with Luca is one of the most precious parts of my life,” she said, calling the experience of reteaming with him a joy after they had collaborated on “A Bigger Splash” in 2015. “Working with him is a real gift because I can sometimes feel really discouraged in this industry. … Like, who can you really trust? And I really trust him.”

Director Luca Guadagnino and actors Tilda Swinton, left, Dakota Johnson and Mia Goth worked together on the stylish horror film "Suspiria."
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Johnson, daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, is also developing a number of entertainment projects, including Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “Forever, Interrupted” and the Amazon historical drama “Unfit” under her production company, Silhouette Productions.

However, on this late fall day, she wasn’t at the storied hotel to talk about films and future projects — or her love life with Coldplay singer Chris Martin. She was promoting Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori, the latest version of the first women’s fragrance from Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele.

“I felt honored to be involved with Gucci and with the other women in the campaign,” said Johnson, who appears in the new campaign with actress-model-writer Hari Nef and artist-model Petra Collins.

The scent features notes of rose, osmanthus, jasmine, Rangoon creeper, tuberose, ginger and patchouli. (It ranges from $34 for 7.4 milliliters to $141 for 100 milliliters and is available at retailers including Macy’s, Sephora and Neiman Marcus.)


They took such a huge risk letting Alessandro [Michele] drive with his creative vision, and I really respect that.

— Dakota Johnson, speaking about Italian brand Gucci

“They took such a huge risk letting Alessandro drive with his creative vision, and I really respect that,” Johnson said of Gucci’s decision to appoint Michele as creative director in January 2015. “That shows me that they respect artists, and I want to work with people that respect artists.”

The two first met in New York during Michele’s Gucci Cruise 2016 fashion show. “I remember thinking he was really kind, deeply sweet, and I wanted to be his friend,” she said, adding that Michele “makes things very mystical and intricate and magical.”

The new Gucci Bloom campaign, which was shot by British photographer Glen Luchford, was a natural fit for Johnson who said fragrance has always played a significant role in her life. “My first memory of scent is my mother’s perfume and just knowing that when I smelled her I felt good and safe,” she said, sharing that her mother still wears Must de Cartier by Cartier to this day. “Always,” Johnson cooed.

Also, Johnson said she has learned to “absorb who people are based on what they wear and how they smell.” Johnson said she wears perfume daily and has a low-key beauty routine. She said she washes her face, uses Själ skincare and prefers to take baths.

“I was brought up by women who really care for themselves and take time caring for themselves, for their skin,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing to take care of your body because you only have one. I want to preserve my body and honor my body. You are an ecosystem. You’re a living organism, so why not treat it with respect and love?”

She has an equally practical approach when it comes to fashion. She described her sense of style as changing with her mood. “And the weather,” she added jokingly. She said her taste has become “more grounded” and that her aesthetic is “more chic, casual and elegant” than when she was in her early 20s. “I feel like I know the things that work for me and that I feel comfortable — and like myself in,” she said.

She said she has had a strong sartorial opinion since she was a child: “I was always very expressive with clothing. Even when I was younger, my mom would be like, ‘Are you sure you want to wear that? OK. We’re going to school in a little wedding dress.’”

Switching gears from the past, Johnson said she remains optimistic about the days ahead. She said she’s focused on striking a better balance between work and her personal life. “I am increasingly reminded that, ultimately, I just make movies, and those are fun things for people to escape their lives and in doing that I can escape the world as well,” she said, adding that her new outlook is “taking the pressure off of it.”

“I’ve become more comfortable with not knowing and I’ve become more comfortable with what matters, which is loving and family and being good to other people, and, you know, raising good people,” she said with a chuckle. “And caring about the world — and intertwined in all of that, I will make movies and hopefully make people feel things.”

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