Get to know Lily James, the face of My Burberry Blush

Get to know Lily James, the face of My Burberry Blush

At first blush

Text: Renée Batchelor

English actress Lily James made her debut as the face of My Burberry Black last year. Find out why she's turned into a blushing beauty for the latest edition of the fragrance

In case you haven't heard of her, remember this name — Lily James. The English actress first made a splash as Lady Rose Aldridge on Downton Abbey but has since parlayed that into plum roles in Cinderella, the critical hit Baby Driver and as a young Meryl Streep in upcoming, part two of Mamma Mia. While her career as an actress has been burgeoning steadily over the years, her role as the face of My Burberry fragrances is relatively new. After donning black for 2016's My Burberry Black, she's now wrapped in blush for the lighter, airier iteration: My Burberry Blush.

Dressed in a beautifully-refined Burberry blush trenchcoat (that's giving us serious must-have vibes), the images for the campaign hint at a younger, cheekier spin on the brand's signature scent. Read all about James' take on the new scent, why she loves working on indie films, and why, the Surrey-raised lass will always call London her home. 

Your first campaign for Burberry was for My Burberry Black, which was a very sensual campaign. The My Burberry Blush campaign is quite different: lighter and brighter. How did you approach this on set for the campaign shoot?
My Burberry Blush still has the rose notes like My Burberry Black and other My Burberry perfumes, however it has this fresh, alive, energetic feeling, like a garden in first light just as the flowers are blossoming. There is this energy and freshness to it that I just love. It feels very summery and there is a zing to it with the lemon and the pomegranate but then there's a sexy jasmine hint underneath it. Just like My Burberry Black, it feels very confident and playful, and I absolutely adore the scent.

Do you have a favourite moment from the My Burberry Blush campaign and filming on set?
It was such a wonderful change after the My Burberry Black campaign, which was more sensual, to suddenly throw on this different trench coat and have a youthful, fresh and flirtatious feeling. The music changed and the whole energy on set changed. It was just exploring a different side of myself and really having fun with that. I loved working with Mario [Testino], and Christopher [Bailey] is also supportive and encouraging.

The new My Burberry Blush campaign sees you wearing a pink Burberry trench coat. Do you have one? How does it compare to wearing a black or honey one for example? 
Wearing the pink trench coat feels very different, it's definitely very playful and flirtatious and you kind of get a spring in your step as soon as you put it on. The black one is much more sophisticated and chic, and the honey one feels quite low-key, so you could wear it absolutely anywhere at any point.

You look amazing in the pink trench coat and it's a very light, bright and playful campaign. Does colour influence your mood and does this manifest itself in the colours that you personally choose to wear — either in fashion or makeup?

I would say colour does influence your mood. I think that what you wear can be an extension of your personality and if you feel good and confident with what you've got on, that reflects how you then feel. The pink trench coat does that. I felt really fresh, especially with the My Burberry Blush Eau de Parfum as well — like turning over a new leaf and like a bright new day.

My Burberry Blush campaign

My Burberry Blush is described as a fruity floral fragrance with a sparkling twist. What's your personal take on it?
My Burberry Blush really evokes the feel of what Christopher [Bailey] was trying to develop: trying to capture a summer garden. The London garden at sunrise has this burst of colour and brightness and light, and I adore the notes of the rose petal, jasmine and citrus. It all blends together to give off an electric and bright feel. It's very easy to wear, you don't need to spray much and it's very light. I adore the whole aesthetic of it, with the blush ribbon and the bottle — it's just a really beautiful scent.

In the past, you have described My Burberry Black as your signature scent. Has this changed now My Burberry Blush has launched? When do you wear the My Burberry Blush scent? 
I wear My Burberry Blush more than My Burberry Black at the moment, simply because it's summertime and you feel it's got such a brilliant, fresh summer feel. But I still like to wear My Burberry Black in the evenings.

It feels as though there's a real celebration of spirited energy, positivity and playfulness throughout the My Burberry Blush campaign. How important was this to capture on set and how did you get into character, or are we seeing more of the real Lily in this campaign?
I definitely think that there is a celebration of spirited energy, positivity and playfulness in the My Burberry Blush campaign, which is a wonderful thing to capture and very important, but I don't know if it's the 'more real' me. There is that side to my personality, but there is also the more sensual side that exists. All of us have so many different sides and attributes and it depends on the day and the mood and the colour of your trench, but I felt very easy and relaxed in this more playful side of the campaign. I think what is so amazing about the My Burberry fragrances is that they capture all these different personalities and sensualities that exist in all of us and it just depends which one you want to wear and what you want to bring out of yourself that day.

You've spoken of how evocative fragrance can be, what does My Burberry Blush evoke for you?
My Burberry Blush evokes a real sense of a spirited energy and freshness, a sort of joie de vivre. I really love the ease of it and the rose petal scent at the heart of the perfume which is in all of the My Burberry fragrances, but then also the crispness of apple and citrus and the lovely undercurrent of jasmine. It's a really beautiful floral, sparkling scent.

Lily James portrait

What do you think the message behind this My Burberry Blush scent is?
I think the message is one of confidence and of being yourself and the playful, spirited, flirtatious energy you have when you feel really optimistic. It's definitely a very positive feel.

Who do you think the My Burberry Blush woman is?
The Burberry Blush woman is playful, flirtatious, spirited and confident.

My Burberry Blush is a spirited scent and you come across as very spirited, bright and optimistic — what's your secret?
I think I am optimist but I can be very pessimistic so I think I try to focus on my optimism, especially in work and work-related activities. I try to be optimistic about my acting and I think it's good to give off that side as the public side of yourself, but obviously, we all have a side that we like to keep private. Maybe that's the secret to keeping some of yourself private — giving out the part that you feel is useful, bright and optimistic.

Any tips on lightening the mood and staying positive?
Music. Listening to music always changes my mood. If you want to feel melancholic or you are already feeling melancholic, music definitely enhances that but I think that if you put on a good tune like 'I Love You Always Forever' by Donna Lewis, you feel like you can dance first thing in the morning.

My Burberry Blush has been described as a very confident scent. As an actress, we imagine you would need lots of confidence at times, so do you have any tips for feeling and portraying confidence?
I think that especially when you're walking into meetings as an actress or into press interviews you have to feel confident because you're on the spot and it's quite vulnerable. You have to have thick skin so you can arm yourself with the confidence while remaining very open and trying to be truthful to the moment. That's a balance that's quite difficult, but confidence always comes from within. If you really believe that you look and feel good, it can make you feel confident. That is why I love Burberry. I think it is a brand that's all about feeling good, confident and embracing the quirks and things that make you individual. There is a flamboyance and bravery to a lot of Burberry, especially with the recent shows, that enhance your individuality. It feels free.

My Burberry Blush is an intensely feminine fragrance. Do you embrace your femininity as a woman and if so, in what ways? 
I really try to embrace my femininity, my grandma was an actress and she, like Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, had a real femininity that I think is very powerful, sensual and embracing; that can be really empowering. I think that you embrace your femininity by enjoying and relishing in it.

You travel the world as an actress, is London still home to you?
London is still home to me and always will be. I love London and I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get home. I always miss London when I'm away.

Is there anything else that you feel passionate about or would like to explore in the future?
I just feel really passionate about trying to keep working in a versatile way and challenging myself. I did an indie called 'Little Woods' directed by Nia DaCosta. She's a first time filmmaker and it's a story about sisters set in North Dakota. I've just recently seen the first edit of it and I'm so proud. It was such a different style of acting and work for me and Nia is such an incredible woman and director. I can't wait to see where it moves forward. It felt really collaborative and a style of film-making that felt very brave.

My Burberry Blush

There is a My Burberry Blush highlighter palette, when and where do you wear it?
I'd wear the My Burberry Blush highlighter probably on my cheeks and maybe even on your eyes — anywhere you want to intensify the brightness and highlight your face.

Your schedule has been intense this last year, how do you relax?
I relax by spending time with my family, friends and boyfriend and just grabbing those moments and weekends or those few days where you can just do nothing. I just went to Glastonbury and had wonderful weekend.


Roses — pink or red?

Trench coat — pink or black

Apple or pomegranate?

Wisteria or jasmine?

Your favourite fruit?

Your favourite flowers, still roses?

Where's your favourite London garden?
I love Hampstead Heath if that counts as a garden.

What or who makes you laugh?
My friends.

What are your tips for feeling brighter?
Putting on a great song like Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance with Somebody'.

How do you boost your energy levels?
By eating well and drinking lots of water.

Beauty must-haves?
My Burberry Blush highlighter, just to brighten your face. I like to keep my face really simple so I just use a highlighter or a tiny bit of mascara to liven it up.

What's your favourite way to spend a day off work?
Going to the cinema or going for a walk.

Are you a lark or an owl?
Waking up bright and energised is going to bed early, I'm a lark definitely.

What sights and sounds make you think of London in spring?
London in spring is the blossom. I always get amazed by the blossom in London, it transforms the city.

What sights and sounds make you think of London in the morning?
I grew up in Surrey and you could hear the birds singing outside my window. In London I guess you start hearing the buses then you also hear the birds in a sort of mix of London life.