Actor Julia Garner is known for her captivating camera presence, whether she is portraying a strong female lead or showing off her flaxen curls and doll-like visage on the red carpet. As one of the faces of the Gucci Guilty fragrance collection, the 29-year-old starlet represents a new era in the campaign imagery for the brand’s latest evolution: the Gucci Guilty Elixir.
The parfum pour femme updates the original olfactory profile of the Gucci Guilty collection with amber florals, notes of wisteria accord, and citrusy mandora. Those elements combine with vanilla absolute and wisps of tonka bean, rose, and violet accord. Altogether, it evokes a festive feeling for Garner.
“[The fragrance] is really celebratory, in a way, so I’m just really excited. I feel so grateful to be a part of, and welcomed into, the Gucci family,” she tells Bazaar. “It’s so rare that you meet people as kind and talented as the people at Gucci, and they’re just so wonderful as human beings. I feel like I won the lottery with them. Every time I work with them, it feels like I’m celebrating something.”
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Considering the level of her fame, it is understandable that Garner values the presence of a trusted community and inner circle so highly. After being launched into superstardom thanks to her breakout performance as Ruth in the Netflix crime drama Ozark, she credits the people in her life with helping her stay centered amidst it all.
“For me, the most important thing is surrounding myself with good people. You want to be around people that bring out the best in you. I’m very lucky—I have a great family, great friends, a great husband, but even if I’m meeting new friends, I always want to surround myself with grounded and healthy people,” she says. “That grounds me, and gets me out of myself and my crazy profession.”
Hence her enthusiasm for the connections she has made through this collaboration. She looks at home as a starring presence in the muted tones of the shoot, with modern stars and a retro feel. Asked whether she ever relies upon fragrance to help get into character, she replies, “It’s funny, because a lot of the characters that I’ve played would not wear perfume. If I were to incorporate the Guilty fragrance with a character, it would probably have to be somebody that is a really strong character, a strong personality. It has a boldness to it that I think I would put to a bold person, if I was playing that type of role.”
Within her personal life, however, fragrance absolutely plays a role. Her earliest scent-related memories are connected to her parents. The first is a common one: the smell of her mother’s cooking—specifically, the aroma of her mom making schnitzel, in a nod to their German heritage.
The other stems from her father’s profession as a painter, and his shared calling in the arts. “My parents still live in the same house [I grew up in], and his studio is in their basement. I grew up going downstairs whenever I wanted to ask my dad for something or just hang out. So, growing up, I’d always know the smell of oil paint, art supplies, and that is probably my earliest scent [memory]. It’s a lot of chemicals,” she admits, “but I love how art supplies and paint smell.”
The conversation takes a turn toward Garner’s personal life and routines. She shares that she is a vintage lover, a dog mom, and that she loves reading. Lately, she has been setting a timer 20 minutes before bed to ensure she gets off of her phone, and reading a book instead before falling asleep. (In case you’re wondering, she is currently reading The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Grammy-winning record producer Rick Rubin, and Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger.) “I notice that I sleep better this way,” she says. “The thing I love about reading is that it forces you to be present. In this day and age, that is kind of rare, because everything moves too quickly.”
When we reach topics like fashion and beauty, her thoughtfulness stands out as her choices represent her self-identity. She notes that she tends to wear the same fragrance like a signature, pointing out that she does the same with her fashion choices. “I wear variations of the same things that I know will be a classic cut on me, or a good color. It can be a little different, but I’ve been dressing similarly since I was a kid. I was always clear on what I liked,” she says.
“I love a simple outfit—a T-shirt, turtleneck, jeans. But then I do love a bag and a shoe if I’m going to go a little extra. And I love coats so much—it makes an outfit look cooler,” she says. “Also sunglasses. Sunglasses might be my favorite accessory when they’re the right shape for your face.”
This inner authenticity extends to Garner’s beauty sensibility, as well. “In terms of skincare, it always starts from within. I feel like the most important thing is to start with the basics: to drink a lot of water—which I’m getting better at—getting good sleep, making sure to put healthy food in your body,” she explains. “I’m never super fancy on face wash. I get a good one, but I think cream, toner, and SPF are kind of my number one thing.”
Her go-to cream is fittingly Augustinus Bader’s cult-favorite Rich Cream—and understandably so, as her go-to facialist is a global brand ambassador for the celebrity-beloved brand. “My favorite facialist is [also] a dear friend of mine, Lord Gavin [McLeod-Valentine]. He’s so great,” Garner says. They first met through her costar Laura Linney while filming Ozark in Atlanta. “He came to Atlanta and we became friends. He just has crazy hands. It’s the craziest facial I’ve ever gotten in my life. But I am mostly just lucky to call him a dear friend.”
While she delves into the ritualistic self-care aspects of skincare, Garner is less involved in her cosmetics regimen—keeping things fresh-faced in her everyday life. However, she laughingly attributes this more to her skill set than to anything else. “I do love the Gucci Primer and their beautiful lip shades,” she says. “It kind of depends on what color I’m wearing or how I’m doing my makeup, but one color that I love is Goldie Red. There’s also a nude hue that I love. They have beautiful [pigments], and their packaging is amazing.”
Garner’s individuality drives the pull of her magnetism. She is at once an old soul, yet quite young—and this encapsulation is certainly what Gucci recognizes. Haute couture continually balances the opposition of an archival brand identity with the mercurial demands of contemporary society. At once modern and timeless, Garner embodies what creative director Sabato De Sarno now does at the helm of Gucci, and with each update to its fashion, beauty, and fragrance collections.
Gucci Gulity Elixir de Parfum Pour Femme is available for $175 at gucci.com.
Jessica Ourisman is a freelance beauty editor for publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, InStyle, POPSUGAR, Byrdie, The Zoe Report, and more. She has previously lived and worked in New York, NY, and Paris, France, but is currently based in Los Angeles, CA. She loves covering topics related to skincare, cosmetics, aesthetics, and trends, as well as exploring the intersection of wellness and beauty. Follow along on Instagram or check out her portfolio.