If Chalamet has his French father to thank for his laissez-faire curls, then he owes his nose for fragrance to his American grandmother. “I remember her giving my sister Chanel No. 5—I think it was for my sister’s birthday—and she had this little Chanel purse too,” he says of his late grandmother, who lived in the same Hell’s Kitchen apartment building Chalamet grew up in. “She was a very, very elegant lady in the best sense of the word—subtly elegant and not for show.”
She would have no doubt appreciated the scent he’s wearing today: French-Guy Hair “I like that it feels a little pulled back, it’s subtle but still assertive,” he says, raising his wrist to his face to take in the aromatic notes of sandalwood. “I’m not someone who wears scent all the time. For me, it’s about emphasizing a moment.”
This afternoon, the 27-year-old actor will have his first big moment as the new face of Chanel’s men’s fragrance. Though the atmosphere in this photo studio in Midtown is relatively subdued, the frenzy around the campaign is already bubbling over. Later in the week, paparazzi pictures of Chalamet filming the Martin Scorsese–directed fragrance spot will be all over the tabloids. Not since Baz Luhrmann shot Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5 in 2004 has a campaign been as highly anticipated. Like Kidman before him, Chalamet is that rare talent who is capable of setting both Hollywood and the fashion world on fire. Plus he’s one of a handful of guys to be anointed by Chanel.
“I have some friends that aren’t as interested in the high-fashion space, but when I tell them I’m doing a short film with Martin Scorsese in New York, their ears prick up,” says Chalamet, who was first introduced to Scorsese via Robbie Robertson, the Band guitarist who famously toured with Bob Dylan. “He lives and breathes moviemaking,” he says of the legendary director. “The conversations we’ve had over Zoom have been super enthused. For him, it’s like hitting the treadmill.”
Chalamet is coming off a long run of exciting film projects of his own. The second installment of the blockbuster Dune trilogy is out in November. Then in December comes Wonka, directed by Paul King of Paddington fame, in which the actor plays the titular kooky and much-beloved chocolatier. “To work on something that will have an uncynical young audience, that was just a big joy. That’s why I was drawn to it,” he says. “In a time and climate of intense political rhetoric, when there’s so much bad news all the time, this is hopefully going to be a piece of chocolate.”
As a teenager, Chalamet did most of his shopping on Broadway too—albeit further downtown. “Honestly it was the women’s clothes at Topshop for me,” says Chalamet of the now shuttered British fashion import. “That’s the stuff that just fit growing up.” His style has only gotten more boundary pushing with age. The actor’s repertoire of red-carpet looks includes pearl chokers, the backless flame red Haider Ackermann halter-neck top he wore for the Venice Film Festival last year, and his favorite look of all time: the pristine white sweatpants and Chucks he wore with a matching tuxedo jacket to the Met Gala in 2021.
So what does he plan to wear for his big fall press tour? Besides, perhaps, Bleu de Chanel. “I had this crazy fitting with Craig Green about a year and half ago. He’s sort of a genius, so now it’s a matter of figuring out when,” he says. And though there’ll be precious little time to shop for new looks while he’s shooting in New York, he’ll scroll the Vogue Runway app and screenshot his favorite looks. After all, Chalamet doesn’t have a stylist, or if he does, it’s a secret. When I press him on the topic, he keeps mum.
It’s only as we’re wrapping up our conversation, when Chalamet is being summoned on set, that he starts to spill the beans. “You know, Jamie actually has all the secrets…about my hair,” he says. Jamie who? I ask. “People know…” he says, flashing a wry smile. I might as well be the last person on earth to know about Jamie Taylor, who has been working for the last six years as Chalamet’s groomer, a word we both agree doesn’t accurately describe her craft. “I mean, the word is evocative of a…horse!” he says with a laugh before lowering his voice to a whisper. “I saw Channing Tatum at this Jay-Z party. He’s worked with Jamie a lot longer than I have. So I thanked him. And he’s like, ‘Oh, no, it’s all good, you didn’t steal her, don’t worry!’ Then this person—I won’t say who—was like, ‘Are you guys really talking about your groomer?!’” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh, shit, here we are.’”