At nine years old, Halle Berry fancied herself a perfumer. She used to sneak into the bathroom and mix her mother’s two favourite fragrances, Youth-Dew and Coco Chanel, to create her very own perfume. Blending her own fragrances is something the Oscar-winning actress has continued to do. “I’ve always wanted to wear something that nobody else is wearing,” says Berry. So, it makes sense that the actress would launch a perfume of her own: Halle by Halle Berry.
At the New York press launch, the youthful 42-year-old Berry is even more striking in person than she is onscreen. Dressed in a chocolate-brown, spaghetti-strapped Hervé L. Leroux dress and Gucci platform stilettos, the new mom describes how she took two years off to develop the fragrance. “Ten years ago, I was so focused on my career — it took up a lot of my time,” says Berry. “Then I decided that my career wasn’t as important and I wanted to have a family. Fragrance was something I’ve always wanted to do, and I knew that if I put my name on something, I had to put time into it. This is like my second baby.”
During her time off, Berry was busy developing the perfume and having her first baby, daughter Nahla, with Canadian boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, whom she met while shooting a Versace campaign. “Being pregnant helped me because I got a clear sense of what I liked and what I didn’t like,” she says. “I’ve never felt more sensual and connected to the earth.”
For his part, Aubry served as an unofficial guinea pig. “During the testing phase, I would ask Gabriel for his opinion,” she says. “He really had to like it because I wear this now. It had to be something that he found sexy — and he loves it.” Berry immersed herself in the world of perfumery. “As a layman, I didn’t know that it would take so long,” she adds. But one thing remained clear from the outset: The fragrance had to include Berry’s favourite scents, fig and mimosa.
The actress worked with Coty and International Flavors & Fragrances to develop the woody oriental, which also features top notes of Sicilian bergamot and pear blossom, heart notes of freesia and hibiscus flower and bottom notes of sandalwood and African root olibanum absolute. “It’s a fragrance for all women,” says Berry. “It’s earthy and sexy yet light and fresh.”
Berry’s fragrance allows her to share a different facet of herself with her fans. “People see me all dressed up on the red carpet, but that’s not who I really am,” she says. “It’s part of my job.” The actress’ earthy side is captured in the images of the advertising campaign, which shows a pared-down Berry on a beach in Oahu, Hawaii. “I wanted something that felt intimate,” she explains. “This is the real me — and the real me is dishevelled.”
So, what’s next for Berry? “I want to keep living in the moment,” she says. “I want to keep doing what I love — something that’s meaningful — and that could be having another baby, creating a fragrance or making a movie.”
For the latest in fashion, beauty and culture, sign up to receive ELLE's daily newsletter.