In the first episode of The New Look—the Apple TV+ series about how Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and other couture designers of the era navigated the fashion world during and after the Second World War—we meet Catherine Dior, Christian’s beloved younger sister. A member of the French Resistance, Catherine was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis but ultimately survived and was released in 1945. As the show reveals, Catherine was hugely important to Christian and was also the inspiration for Miss Dior, the scent he released in 1947. “I think part of [Dior’s] desire to create beauty after the war was sort of his own form of resistance to all the ugliness and horror that the war brought,” says actor Natalie Portman over a Zoom from Los Angeles. “It was kind of a re-engagement with life and beauty—to say that beauty still exists even after all these horrors.”

Miss Dior was the house’s first scent—it was intended to complement Christian’s fashion and convey the spirit of the era and was followed by the brand’s inaugural Miss Dior RTW collection in 1967—and Portman has been the face of the fragrance since 2011. For 2024, director of perfume creation Francis Kurkdjian has reimagined the scent with Miss Dior Parfum, using jasmine as the starting point. He returned to the notes that were characteristic of the extraction methods used for the bloom around the time of the first new iteration smells fruity and gourmand and has facets of strawberry, peach and apricot, all of which are combined with a woody amber base.



Just as Miss Dior has evolved, so, too, has the brand. Over the course of her rela- tionship with the house, Portman has seen these changes—including more women coming to the fore—first-hand. “I’ve seen the brand go more and more toward sup- porting women’s artistry and also be led by women. And we now have Maria Grazia [Chiuri] designing and Delphine Arnault as the CEO,” says the May December star, adding that there are countless more women taking roles—gathering flowers for perfume, adding embroidery to dresses—behind the scenes. Plus, Chiuri is a champion of and frequently collaborates with women artists, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Grace Wales Bonner and Brigitte Niedermair. “The brand has grown into what feels like a true identity, and it’s been wonderful to get to be a part of that,” says Portman.

Above all, Miss Dior is meant to embody youth. Portman, 42, says feeling youthful for her is about a sense of play. “That is a big part of my job,” she says. “I pretend for a living.” Getting into costumes and hair and makeup also elevates the whole experience. “It’s just so crucial to a character,” she explains. “And immediately you just feel different from yourself.”

Portman is carrying that sensibility to her next role, Maddie Schwartz, the protagonist of Lady in the Lake, an Apple TV+ series that’s based on the book by Laura Lippman and expected to debut later this year. Set in 1960s Baltimore, the show features Portman as a housewife who leaves her husband to become an investigative journalist and dig into two unsolved mysteries. She was drawn to the project because her grandmother was from Baltimore and around the same age as her character during that decade. “I was very curious and kind of imagining that era and what it was like for her.” But there was also a larger question she wanted to explore. “At the heart of what was interesting for me was whether someone who’s oppressed can also be an oppressor and the complication of that.”

It’s this continued desire for knowledge in general that keeps Portman feeling young at heart too. “I [try to be] curious and engaged with the world,” she says. “[I want to avoid] the things that we associate with getting older—becoming jaded or cynical. I think I’m still quite trusting and open.”