penelope cruz discusses designing lingerie
We meet up with the sexiest woman alive to talk about designing her 70s-inspired collection of lingerie for L'Agent.
Vicky Cristina who? Everyone knows that Woody Allen's romantic romp in Barcelona was all about Maria Elena, played by the impossibly beautiful Penelope Cruz (she won an Oscar for it). Remember that perfect silky pink slip she wore? Well Penelope is designing negligees with a similar degree of sultriness herself these days. Hold onto your hats boys, because the sexiest woman alive (officially) has just released the fifth collection of L'Agent with her sister, Monica, and Creative Director Sarah Shotton. Agent Provocateur's younger, more affordable label, started by the Cruz sisters -- who have been collectors of AP lingerie for over 20 years -- has grown from a diffusion line into a fully fledged brand, and Penelope and Monica have a crystal clear vision of their customer; L'Agent is for all shapes and sizes.
What's it like working with your sister?
It's great, we are really close. We're only two and a half years apart and we used to do this as a game when we were little, changing the designs on top of fashion magazines. So this is a dream come true for us. We've worked with five different companies around the world designing, but this is our most special thing because it didn't exist before us. We are there every step of the way and now we're expanding. We have stores in New York, LA, and London and there are plans for other cities. I really believe in the product that we present, the quality and the design. And we're not talking about something that only a few people can afford.
You took inspiration from 70s movies and Almost Famous. What are your favorite lingerie moments in film?
There are so many. Marilyn. Also Sophia Loren in her famous strip tease, the scene with Marcello Mastroianni. Her sensuality... this woman is like that in everything she does. This is her essence, she is incredibly beautiful and sensual, no matter how old she is.
You wrote and directed a short film for two of your previous collections. Are you going to make another one?
I want to do more because this is our brand, and the way we communicate what it represents. I don't know if you saw the first one, where Monica is nine-months pregnant? For us, it's really important that even a nine-month pregnant woman can find something. It's for all sizes and all shapes.
What do you wear to bed?
Depends on the day!
When do you feel sexiest?
I don't think you can answer that like "when." These things are moving constantly. You have to feel it.
What makes someone sexy?
Somebody's personality, what that person transmits. For example, for me Marilyn Monroe was one of the sexiest women ever. There's something about her, a quality that it seemed like she was not really aware of. She didn't always see herself from the outside. I have no idea if that was the case, but what she transmitted was that and it was really free. That is a very sexy quality. Trying hard never transmits that.
How do you feel about being named Sexiest Woman Alive by Esquire?
This is so funny for me! When they told me I laughed so hard because we have a brother who is the funniest person in the world, Eduardo, and he just likes to laugh at us. He can only find defects in me and Monica. I will not say which things of course, but for me, when I was named this by Esquire, I could only think about the things my brother points out. He says, "I don't see how these people don't see the things that I see in you!" These things are always better to be taken with humor anyway.
Who do you think is the sexiest woman alive?
I think Angelina is so sexy. Sophia Loren has always been and is so sexy. But for me the sexiest creature to have walked this planet is Marlon Brando. Nothing can touch him! Don't you think?
Absolutely. What advice would you give to girls who aren't so confident about their body?
I never agree with putting things in a box, saying "this is what's beautiful" or "this is what society says." I am so against that. I find beauty in diversity. This is the way I see the world. We need to just keep putting out that message. Pictures are retouched, lighting is always 50% of the result, and there's always the time that goes into hair and makeup and what you're wearing. There are all these things that construct a fantasy. And that's OK, but you have to be honest that part of this is a fantasy. You're not going to change people's perceptions of things, or what is put in the heads of teenage girls or boys, but there are little ways to contribute to that. Like this collection, as we were saying before, represents all types of women. They have curves, they have shape.
What was the hardest part of growing up for you?
I remember a challenge, I remember decisions being made, like am I going to be a dancer? Am I going to make movies? Can I do both? No. Realizing there is no time for both. I was never a professional dancer. I trained for 17 years and then thought should I keep going and try to become a dancer? I remember a lot of battles with myself in my teenage years, and here I am!
It worked out pretty well!
No! Here I am, still with battles! Different battles, but battles with myself. This is life. But it's true those years are so important. Kids at that age really need to be listened to so they feel like they can talk. They need a place where they feel like they are going to be heard, otherwise they will not talk.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Breathe. Trust. You might feet the urge to have all the answers, but I would tell myself, don't worry, those answers are not all going to come now but they will come later, so take it easy, they will come.
Text Felicity Kinsella