Charlize Theron Isn’t Afraid to Step Outside of Her Comfort Zone


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Photography by Josh Olins for Parfums Christian Dior

Charlize Theron reflects on the past two decades as the face of Dior J’adore while ushering in the brand’s latest fragrance, L’Or de J’adore.

“When you’re trying to create history with something that already has historical ground, it can be intimidating,” says Charlize Theron over the phone. She’s calling from L.A. and reminiscing about joining the house of Dior almost 20 years ago as the face of its iconic J’adore Dior fragrance plus several of the perfume’s iterations. It’s hard to imagine the Academy Award-winning actor, producer and activist being intimidated by anything. She later confirms my suspicions, describing herself as fearless. “I’m rarely scared of doing something that requires me to step outside of my comfort zone,” she says.

However, when Theron first signed on to be the face of J’adore in 2004, the task at hand felt daunting. “The fragrance already had a commercial to its name, and it was really beautiful,” she says. “So part of me was like, ‘I guess I’m just showing up and continuing that.’” Theron was pleasantly surprised to find that the brand wasn’t interested in operating on cruise control. “It’s been nice to be surrounded by creative people who dare to be bold, and maybe even a little disruptive, at a house with so much history,” she says.

Today, Theron is the face of the latest addition to the Dior fragrance family, L’Or de J’adore. Francis Kurkdjian is the nose behind the scent — the perfumer’s first major fragrance for Dior since he was named perfume creation director. “J’adore’s floral bouquet is profuse and rich,” says Kurkdjian. “The dialogue it opens between the flowers is what gives it its unique signature. I wanted to define the J’adore flowers and maximize them.”

To do so, Kurkdjian simplified the original J’adore formula by “zooming in” on the flowers. “They became hyperbolic,” he explains. “Exaggerating the flowers infuses the fragrance with unprecedented opulence. I wanted a radical approach and an immediate floral sensation. The J’adore flowers grab you straight away, without waiting.”

The magic of L’Or de J’adore lies in its ability to pay homage to the original while simultaneously being audacious and daring in the quest for something new. “You can still find the cornerstones of the original J’adore in L’Or de J’adore, yet there are these brave moments when the florals are so concentrated,” says Theron. “It has changed in ways that don’t feel like you’re completely walking away from the thing you originally loved.”

This article first appeared in FASHION’s October 2023 issue. Find out more here.

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