“Before I was really afraid of things, of pulling up short,” Anne Hathaway says. “I’d rather enjoy whatever it is I do have on, even if I’m not wearing precisely the right thing.” She’s speaking, of course, of the inner paradigm shift that’s driven her style renaissance—make that Anne-aissance—over the past two years.
But let me join the chorus of fashion die-hards: She never misses. Last spring, I got to witness this first hand when I met Hathaway at New York’s Mandarin Oriental, 53 floors above a blossoming Central Park. She wore an oversize purple Valentino suit and, of course, a pair of matching glossy Garavani platform pumps. While Hathaway is a kind of millennial icon, having starred in such quotable classics like The Princess Diaries (2001) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006), she’s quick to credit Gen Z for influencing her more experimental style. “I know this sounds like I’m super-pandering, but I’m really switched on by Gen Z,” she says. “It’s a fun generation when it comes to fashion. They really hit it just right where they have a great time with it, but they define themselves by themselves.”
Sitting across from Hathaway, you’d be forgiven for internally fangirling: That smile! That hair! But on this occasion, it’s all about her porcelain-perfect skin: Today, SHISEIDO announces Hathaway as the new global ambassador of its VITAL PERFECTION line, which features an array of luxurious creams, lotions, and masks that restore youthful health and vibrancy to the skin. “If you’re lucky to live a really long life, your skin carries with you your personal legacy,” says Hathaway. “If you can treat it with as much love, care, and respect, and nurture it to the best of your abilities, it’s going to pay dividends throughout your life.” She emphasises that her skincare philosophy is less about perfection and more about unlocking possibilities.
And who better than the Oscar-winning actor to tout the campaign’s mantra “Potential has no age”? Last fall, as Hathaway entered her 40s, she also embarked on a thrilling new era for her career, with upcoming roles ranging from a 1960s housewife in the twisted thriller Mothers’ Instinct, to a divorced 40-year-old mother dating the lead singer of a boy band in The Idea of You, based on a Harry Styles fan-fiction novel.
In honor of her new role with SHISEIDO, Hathaway sat down with Vogue to discuss the joy of skin care, embracing full-tilt fashion, and finding balance in her life.
Vogue: Well, to start, congrats! SHISEIDO has such an incredible history and legacy. How does it feel to be a part of it?
Anne Hathaway: Oh my gosh. Where to start? I’m so honored that they felt I was a fit. They’re a brand that’s been synonymous with the highest quality for so many generations; they have such integrity. I’m just really, really thrilled that they felt that I am somebody who could effectively reflect that.
What do you admire most about the brand, particularly as it reflects the traditions and values of Japanese culture?
The care, thoughtfulness, rigour, and passion. That passion is something that the volume can be all the way turned up, but it’s also something that can be very quiet at the same time. And that doesn’t diminish its intensity. I feel that my relationship with SHISEIDO has allowed me to see with much more clarity, depth, and appreciation. The company has such a legacy within Japan, and it was exciting to see how [they’ve been] able to go global without losing any of their character, integrity, and identity.
What excites you most about being the new face of their VITAL PERFECTION line?
How well it works! But it was funny—I had to sit with the name for a little bit. I’m aware that people can feel a lot of pressure with the word perfection. But then I thought about it from another perspective, and I got really excited because I realised that because it’s a skin-care product, it’s you that activates the perfection because that’s what’s inside of you. And because it’s a product that goes on your skin, it’s for everyone. It’s a way of enhancing something you already possess. [It’s] a way of introducing a concept of perfection that includes everybody.
When did you start getting passionate about skin care?
I worked with an actress in my 20s, and I’d always thought skin care was important, but I observed how she took her makeup off at the end of each day. And it was a layered process. Cleansing her skin was a layered process, and something clicked for me. And I started to treat my skin more delicately with more consideration, more thought. And the result was pretty profound to me. And it’s funny, because I found that the longer I’ve made skin care a priority, the less makeup I wear. There’s nothing wrong with makeup, and in fact, I wear it quite a lot for my job. But I find that in my life, I’m really happy just being in my skin.
What makes skin care a ritualistic act of self-care for you?
I make the time for it, first of all, just because I have sensitive skin. So, not making the time means my skin will be really stressed out later on. I would never describe my skin as high maintenance, but maintenance is involved. It’s a pleasure. Again, I like to feel engaged with my life. I find it very grounding. And that’s the thing about when you get to a place in life where you’ve developed habits that you’ve had for years that you know are working for you; you develop a sort of, I don’t know, a sensory relationship with them. And so, the feeling of taking my makeup off at the end of the day, the feeling of rehydrating my skin before bed, the feeling that you get when you put a product on your skin that you know is going to make your skin really, really happy.
There’s a lot of pressure to do self-care right. And I think that it’s not really a right or a wrong. If you’re lucky enough to get to a certain age in your life, you realize that your habits are your legacy. And I don’t know, I get very excited by that. I get very excited about the idea of investing in the self that I hope to be one day.
So, of course, we can’t talk about beauty without discussing all the major fashion moments you’ve been having as of late. What has inspired you to start taking more risks?
Well, thank you. So many things! One, Erin Walsh. My amazing stylist! She inspires me. Her style has really rubbed off on me, and the way she wears things, whatever it is, she always wears it in the most effortless way possible. It’s the four-minute mile; just seeing her do it made me want to live that way. If you can see it, you can be it. And look, I’m really switched on by Gen Z. Their relationship with [fashion], the way it’s received, it’s a really, really fun dance.
Gen Z loves colour!
The concept of dopamine dressing is so much fun! And also fashion itself right now, I feel like designers are having a lot of fun. I feel like people are enjoying it. Maybe it was always the case, and maybe I was the only person in the corner watching everybody else have fun. But just the ability to enjoy it feels like it’s more available to me now than it ever was before.
Why do you think the joy of bigger, bolder fashion is more available to you?
You asked me about what’s changed for me with my style. I think for a long time, I thought that I could only have one. I felt really lost because I didn’t know what that was until I realised I have so many styles. And that’s part of the reason why I love being an actor, and my style is fluid. And once I realised that, then I felt like something clicked. But that’s just me. It’s different. Some people are like, “Nope, black turtleneck every day.”
As a beauty editor, let me just tell you I am living for all of the beauty moments, too. What speaks to you about these more dramatic hair and makeup looks?
I work with incredible people who can execute anything. We’re really fun. I’m big on loyalty and longevity. Some people I’ve been working with for decades now. And I feel like we just have a really good thing going. We’ve worked really hard to be where we are, but we’re also amazed by where we are. So, we’re just really enjoying it. And I work with highly creative people who are really committed to their own sense of excellence. I get to bear the fruit of that.
Obviously, it’s unapologetic glamour on the red carpet, but what’s your approach to style when you’re off-duty?
I really seek and crave balance. There are so many aspects of my life that are so full throttle and exaggerated in a certain way that when I’m not at work and when the stakes are not quite that high, I tend to keep it pretty simple, pretty nourishing. Very comfortable. But funny enough, I’m not comfortable unless there’s a little bit of edge there. I’m probably never going to walk around the city in my sweatpants, but I will find something as comfortable as sweatpants. I definitely have an off-duty mode, but I do it in my own way.
How else do you find balance in your life?
A very brilliant friend of mine and I were having a conversation about this, and she said, “I don’t connect to the word balance; I connect to the word harmony.” And that really resonated with me because balance feels like another thing on your to-do list. And when you’re not doing it, it’s like, “Why can’t I …?” As opposed to harmony, where you’re just like, “What’s the thing that makes everything feel like it’s on the same wavelength?” And so much of it has just been about learning to be present. And again, I’m not perfect at it. I’m a human being, and I’m still learning it, but I know that whatever I’m doing, if I can be fully present in that, it makes me feel better.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Director: Mayan Toledano
Director of Photography: Rachel Batashvili
Editors: Evan Allen, Ana Fangayen
Producer: Qieara Lesesne
Associate Director, Creative Development: Alexandra Gurvitch
Director, Creative Development and Programming, Social Media: Sam Sussman
Associate Producer: Lea Donenberg
AC: Paola Oliveros
Gaffer: Devan Davies
Audio: Austin Rumsey
Production Assistant: Erica Palmieri
Set Designer: Elaine Winter
Production Coordinator: Ava Kashar
Production Manager: Kit Fogarty
Line Producer: Romeeka Powell
Senior Director, Production Management: Jessica Schier
Assistant Editor: Andy Morell
Post Production Coordinator: Jovan James
Supervising Editor: Kameron Key
Post Production Supervisor: Edward Taylor
Director of Content, Production: Rahel Gebreyes
Senior Director, Programming: Linda Gittleson
Executive Producer: Ruhiya Nuruddin
VP, Digital Video English: Thespena Guatieri
Filmed at Mandarin Oriental, New York
SAG-AFTRA members are currently on strike; as part of the strike, union actors are not promoting their film and TV projects. This video and interview was conducted prior to the strike.
This story was originally published on Vogue.com.