ONE day, Cate Blanchett might be taking tuck shop orders at her kids’ primary school. The next, she’ll be accepting a doctorate and lobbying for the arts. And the day after that you’ll probably find her sharing a film set with Robert Redford.
Forget Duchess Kate and the stories about her perfect hair, sense of style and cute baby, Blanchett is the type of woman other women aspire to be.
She truly seems to “have it all”, balancing family with passion for her causes and ground-breaking work while being as perfectly turned out in the grocer’s shop as she is on the red carpet.
Blanchett cleverly picks high-profile roles in intelligent, well-made films — an approach that has seen her garner an extraordinary 95 awards — including this year’s Best Actress Oscar for her role in Blue Jasmine — and 75 nominations, making her one of the industry’s most profitable and bankable stars.
Perhaps that’s why she is also one of the world’s most sought-after women when it comes to endorsements — whether it’s dressing for the red carpet or, with that timeless face and flawless complexion, cosmetic ones.
The 45-year-old star has been dressed by many fashion designers for those red carpet appearances, but none more so than Giorgio Armani.
“The sense of elegance in Mr Armani’s style is effortless and unaffected,” she says in an exclusive interview.
The feeling seems mutual he once told the New York Post that Blanchett “epitomises the woman for whom I design”, adding that “she has cemented a place for herself on the eternal best-dressed list”.
Theirs is a relationship that has lasted many years, including Armani’s tenure as patron of the Sydney Theatre Company during her directorship, so it is only fitting that the maestro himself would choose Blanchett to be the face of one of his fragrances.
Blanchett’s latest endorsement is Si Intense by Giorgio Armani. It is her second perfume partnership with Armani. The new fragrance claims to represent “a woman of grace and independent spirit; admired for her sophistication (and) serene in her self-confidence” — values she is happy to put her name to, and admits she also shares.
“If the Si woman thirsts for freedom, admires courage, strength and vulnerability, is drawn to all things sensual and loves to laugh then yes, I relate absolutely,” she says.
But it is her intensity that matches the complexity Armani attributes to his perfume, which is modelled on the concept of black.
“Black, the sum of all colours and the ultimate non-colour, is both the most classic choice and the most difficult hurdle for a designer, “ Armani told Insider through a statement.
“It has always represented elegance and mystery.”
Blanchett might have stepped down from her artistic role at the STC to focus on performing, but her life doesn’t seem much quieter these days.
She’s rumoured to be working on the US film Truth with Robert Redford and has just finished a season of Jean Genet’s The Maids in New York. And she recently accepted an honorary doctorate of letters from Macquarie University.
“I don’t commit to things lightly, as I know the work involved and the time things take,” she says.
“I can’t do things by halves. But yes, when I do commit it is wholeheartedly.
“I feel like each role I play demands an effort, the effort of starting again, not knowing how or where to begin. After each role I always say ‘That’s it, I’m done now. No more acting.’ So each time I have to be seduced back into the profession by the idea of the production; the people, the words, the conversation, the images to be had. If it’s not an effort, if I’m not attempting to go somewhere new, then it’s best I stay happily at home.”
Even when work isn’t dominating her time, life in the Blanchett-Upton house and the constant demands of her three sons, Dashiell, 12, Roman, nine and Ignatius, six, who think her films are boring, keep her down to earth. Not to mention how someone acclaimed for their fashion fits into such a male-dominated household.
“They call me ‘stupid poo face’ when I refuse them ice cream!” she says. “But intensity is at the heart of life. I like being close to the fire, inside things, moving forward. That said, one needs moments of calm, but even so I like to know this passionate heart beat is still there.”
Her craving for intensity even reaches into the core of her relationship with husband Andrew Upton, writer and her partner during her stint at the Sydney Theatre Company.
“My husband likes to think he makes me intensely happy. I think he is right. We laugh like drains,” she says.
Some people might dismiss perfume endorsements, but representing and celebrating women is something Blanchett, who describes herself as a feminist, takes seriously.
“A committed woman today is one who is not apologising for herself, her choices or achievements,” she says.
“Being successful, as a CEO, actress, mother or whatever, doesn’t mean one is not feminine; fulfilment is surely part of being female.”