stacy martin on miu miu, kittens and female power in the film industry
As she fronts Miu Miu’s first fragrance campaign, get to know the bright young actress carrying on the brand’s fiercely feminist film legacy (plus, check out exclusive behind the scenes images!).
In 1996, Juergen Teller shot a fresh-faced Chloë Sevigny for one of Miu Miu's earliest campaigns. Sevigny was 22-years-old, and the world was still coming to grips with her career-defining performance as Kid's Jennie, an HIV-positive teen traversing the city's skate scene and parties with its other wayward youth. Over the past 20 years, Miu Miu has supported not only the fearless young talents in front of the camera, but those behind it, too. This legacy feels best embodied by the brand's current campaign star: British actress Stacy Martin.
Martin's breakout role was an electrifying portrayal of female sexuality, in Lars Von Trier's controversial Nymphomaniac -- at 22, no less. Now 24, Martin has a few more films -- including The Childhood of a Leader, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month -- and three Steven Meisel-lensed Miu Miu shoots under her belt. The most recent of which is the brand's first ever fragrance campaign and video, which features a staunchly girl power Leslie Gore soundtrack and a kitten. On the heels of her latest film premiere, High-Rise, Stacy tells us how the scent shifts from skin to skin, what she's learned by working with Steven, and why the most important word a young actress needs to know is "no."
You've worked with Miuccia Prada on two Miu Miu campaigns prior to this one. How did you two come to collaborate?
Our relationship started with the fall/winter 2014 campaign, when the brand approached me and asked if I was interested in being the new campaign girl. I didn't have a lot of knowledge about Miu Miu or about Miuccia herself, so I investigated a little bit. I found that the way she works within fashion really inspires me, the way she tries to bring it outwards into other spheres like film or art. Things developed from there -- I can't really say why or how because that's Miu Miu's decision, but from my side, it felt like a very natural progression.
Both Miu Miu and Prada have such strong brand identities. What about Miu Miu resonates the most with you?
It's quite surprising because I've never really been that influenced by or even aware of fashion. But with Miu Miu, I just really love the contradiction within everything. You can find your own way within the brand and I really appreciate that; it feels more like a collaboration that allows you to play around. I've worn pink, which I never thought I would wear; I've worn heels I didn't even think I could walk in.
What struck you the first time you experienced the scent?
The first time I smelled it was when we were doing the campaign and they'd brought a little tester flask. When I put it on my skin, it smelled so different. I was so surprised by that -- the drastic evolution that the smell has and how it kept changing from skin to skin. It can really adapt to someone, and that's not something I've ever thought of or expected from a scent.
These images are quite different from your fall/winter 14 black and white work with Steven. Can you tell us about direction of this campaign?
The great thing about the creative team is that they start with a premise, and then it really develops once shooting begins. They wanted to do something in line with the actual scent; it needed to have a sense of independence but remain playful. So that's exactly what we did with Steven, played around. And with that spirit, it just becomes so easy. You'd think a fragrance shoot would take such a long time, but finding the right mood and angle was actually quite fast. They had a cat, which could have brought in a lot of problems because animals on set are so unpredictable, but there's something about it that all came together.
What does beauty mean to you?
It's a word that encapsulates so many debates and discussions because it's so subjective; it's questioned and changing all the time. But to me, it means being happy in what you're doing. I think that really changes the way a person is -- their charisma. If they're doing something that makes them miserable, you can just tell immediately.
Miu Miu has such a strong history supporting women in film, and it's been very heartening to see so many young women finding strength to speak out about their experiences of inequality in the film industry. How can we push that conversation forward?
I think the conversation still needs to happen; I don't think we've arrived at that point yet where we can stop discussing it. But the more people like Miuccia Prada, the more who speak out, and the more who work in line with how they really believe they want to work, I think that's the biggest step that we can take. The way I do it is through the choices I make in my career. I think it's important to remind people - especially really young actresses - that they can say no. And if it's something they feel is not representative of women, or degrading or makes them feel uncomfortable, they should say no. Sometimes, it's not about what you say yes to, but about what you say no to.
Text Emily Manning