10 questions with Zoë Kravitz, the new face of YSL's Black Opium scent

10 questions with Zoë Kravitz, the new face of YSL's Black Opium scent

True beauty

Text: Renée Batchelor

Zoë Kravitz continues her lucky streak as she's appointed the new global ambassador for YSL's Black Opium

Hands up if you'd like to be Zoë Kravitz: Young, beautiful and with Jason Momoa, no less as your stepdaddy? The young, American actress who will soon star in season two of Big Little Lies and is the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald has one of those arresting faces that have literally no bad angles. And did we mention she can pull off any makeup look?

Tapped to be the global face of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) Beauté's Black Opium fragrance, we got a chance to find out what shooting the exotic campaign in Thailand and Japan was like, and what makeup she brings with her on a night out. The campaign will be unveiled on 18 August.

How do you feel about being the new global face of Black Opium?  
Going from being US ambassador to a global role, and feeling accepted and welcomed into all aspects of YSL has been an amazing journey. Black Opium is such an incredible fragrance, a staple of the brand, and a classic that I never even dared to hope I would be a part of. And yet from the very beginning, when I first started working in the makeup division and would smell the fragrance on the YSL team and ask them, "What are you wearing?" I just loved it. 

It's a very interesting thing, being a part of this brand.  We're creating makeup, fragrance, fashion — but what's really beneath that for me, is the idea that we're selling a lifestyle, a certain confidence. I love the way that everything YSL does is infused with an edge, a spirit of adventure.  The whole concept behind our video for Black Opium is about going out into the night, into the unknown, and I hope that even the commercial itself will inspire people one way or another to seek out adventure.




How did you imagine the campaign to be, and are you pleased with the final vision?
I'm very pleased with it. Before you even start filming, there are a lot of very clear references and visuals so that you have a strong idea of what the intention is, but they're usually computer generated, so you never quite know how it will turn out. But in the end, you can see the effort and the heart that went into making the campaign, and I love the final vision. Jonas Lindstroem and his team completely nailed it.

What was the shoot like? Did you collaborate much on the creative process?
It was like an adventure in itself!  Being up all night, in these incredible places ‚ Thailand, Japan, filming on the roof tops. It was such an amazing experience. Night shoots can be hard, so you have to really want to be there, but aside from working with such a wonderful crew which really helps, we had my favourite Thai food too!

As far as collaborating with the creative process goes, I always like to make everything that I do collaborative. It's important to me to feel like I'm being authentic. In a film for example, sometimes you want to tweak the dialogue slightly if it doesn't feel quite right, so you can bring more of yourself to a project. In this instance, the team created this very special world, a mood, and a vision, and I really loved what they were going for. They encouraged me to be myself, and I did what I needed to do to be authentic. They're always very cooperative and wonderful.

The fragrance is about darkness coming together with a sweet luminescence — reflected by the addictive notes of coffee marrying with the light sweetness of vanilla and white flowers.  What appeals to you about this as a concept?
It's all about balance — as with everything in life. So for me, I think YSL is about the balance between masculine and feminine, the woman doesn't have to be this helpful feminine persona in a pink tutu, a damsel in distress. Black Opium, just like YSL, has an androgyny and an edge and that's what sexy is — it's a combination of all these things.

I'm always very picky about fragrance, because I find that oftentimes fragrances can be too much of one thing — too sweet, for example. But this has an earthy coffee smell with vanilla and jasmine which doesn't feel too masculine or too feminine, it just has a wonderful balance which means that people have room to find their own connection with it. If you're a bit more of a masculine person or a feminine person you can find your connection with this smell, and that's so important.          

What's your favourite way to wear Black Opium?
I like to spritz it in the air and then walk through it. You can get used to a smell once you're wearing it, to the point where you feel like you need to keep adding more, but I've learnt that less is more.



To anyone who hasn't yet discovered Black Opium, how would you describe it?
Sweet and earthy. It speaks for itself.

Are there any single notes within Black Opium that are favourite ingredients for you?
Probably the coffee and the jasmine. They're both divine smells. They're both intoxicating. If you smell fresh ground coffee somewhere you've really got to be in that moment, the same as if you pass a jasmine tree, it takes over your whole body and is completely intoxicating.

What's your favourite type of coffee and where do you get it from?
There are so many good coffee places in New York, but I like Blue Bottle. I usually get an Americano, or a Cortado.

How long have you been a fan of Black Opium? Do you remember the first time you smelt it?
I don't know where I was exactly, I feel like it was at a dinner, and I think I hugged one of the wonderful women who work at YSL Beauty in the States and asked her what it was... and they were so nice, they sent me a bottle after that.

The campaign is about a big night out.  What's your idea of the perfect night out, and what is the look that you go for?
The best nights out are always those ones you don't plan — which is kind of the story we made in the film, following the adventure from one place to another. But if you have good people, good weather, and you're in a city that will stay up late with you, like New York, where I live, then you can make any night out a fun night out. Everything else is an added extra — Bowie, Michael Jackson, Al Green; getting food at 3 A.M.; and hot, balmy weather that brings out a sense of playfulness in us all. 

I like to wear Tatouage Couture for a night out because it really does stay on. I didn't wear lipstick for so long because I felt you had to monitor it all night long, but this one doesn't require very much upkeep at all. And on nights when I don't feel like a strong lip, I like a smudgy black eye. YSL Couture Kajal sticks are great for this — there is a beautiful olive-y black one which in a certain kind of light is absolutely magical.