Timonthée Chalamet rarely gets grilled about his beauty routine. Still, there’s really no escaping the question of his exquisitely disheveled hair. When we meet on a drizzly spring morning in New York, he’s ensconced in a squishy black leather armchair and dressed in all black—Nike tee, workwear pants, Craig Greene sneakers—and his gently mussed, side-parted curls are undeniably the main event. “You’re actually the first person to ask me about my hair. What’s the secret?” he repeats, bemused by my opener. “There really isn’t one. When I wake up, it’s a roll of the dice,” says Chamalet, preempting my next question: “And I get my hair from my dad.”
If Chalamet has his French father to thank for his laissez-faire curls, then he owes his nose for fragrance to his American grandmother. “I remember her giving my sister Chanel No. 5—I think it was for my sister’s birthday—and she had this little Chanel purse too,” he says of his grandmother who lived out her 95 years in the same Hell’s Kitchen apartment building Chalamet grew up in. “She was a very, very elegant lady in the best sense of the word—subtly elegant and not for show.”
She would have no doubt appreciated the scent he’s wearing today: Bleu de Chanel. “I like that it feels a little pulled back, it’s subtle but still assertive,” he says, raising his wrist to his face to take in the aromatic notes of sandalwood. “I’m not someone who wears scent all the time. For me, it’s about emphasizing a moment.”
This afternoon, the 27-year-old actor will have his first big moment as the new face of Chanel’s men’s fragrance. Though the atmosphere in this photo studio in midtown is relatively subdued, the frenzy around the campaign is already bubbling over. Later in the week, paparazzi pictures of Chalamet filming the Martin Scorsese-directed fragrance spot will be all over the tabloids. Not since Baz Luhrmann shot Nicole Kidman for Chanel No 5 in 2004 has a campaign been as highly anticipated. Like Kidman before him, Chalamet is that rare talent who is capable of setting both Hollywood and the fashion world on fire. Plus, he’s one of a handful of guys to be anointed by Chanel.
“I have some friends that aren’t as interested in the high fashion space, but when I tell them I’m doing a short film with Martin Scorsese in New York, their ears prick up,” says Chalamet who was first introduced to Scorsese via Robbie Robertson, the guitarist who famously toured with Bob Dylan. “He lives and breathes movie making,” he says of the legendary director. “The conversations we’ve had over zoom have been super enthused. For him, it’s like hitting the treadmill.”
Chalamet is coming off a long run of exciting film projects of his own. The second installment of the blockbuster Dune trilogy is out in November. Then in December comes Wonka, directed by Paul King of Paddington fame, in which he plays the titular kooky and much-beloved chocolatier. “To work on something that will have an uncynical young audience, that was just a big joy. That’s why I was drawn to it,” he says. “In a time and climate of intense political rhetoric when there’s so much bad news all the time, this is hopefully going to be a piece of chocolate.”
More satisfying news: the long-awaited Bob Dylan biopic will begin filming this summer here in New York with Chalamet recording all his own vocals for the leading role. “I’ve been preparing for forever,” he says with a sigh. Right now that includes daily sessions with a voice coach, though to hear him tell it, he’s been limbering up to it since his performing arts school days. “I can’t expect anyone outside of the New York City public school system to know this, but there is a production of Cabaret at Laguardia, class of 2013, that you can watch on YouTube,” he says proudly—a deeper YouTube dive reveals he’s also quite the dancer. “I remember the New York Times critic Ben Brantley saying very nice things about it, so I’m going to emphasize that.”
As a teenager, Chalamet did most of his shopping on Broadway too—albeit further downtown. “Honestly it was the women’s clothes at Top Shop for me,” says Chalamet of the now-shuttered British fashion import. “That’s the stuff that just fit growing up.” His style has only gotten more boundary-pushing with age. The actor’s repertoire of red carpet looks includes pearl chokers, the backless flame red Haider Ackerman halter-neck top he wore for the Venice Film Festival last year, and his favorite look of all time: the pristine white sweatpants and Chucks he wore with a matching tuxedo jacket to the Met gala in 2021.
So what does he plan to wear for his big fall press tour? Besides, perhaps, Chanel. “I had this crazy fitting with Craig Greene about a year and half ago. He’s sort of a genius, so now it’s a matter of figuring out when,” he says. And though there’ll be precious little time to shop for new looks while he’s shooting in New York, he’ll scroll the Vogue Runway app and screenshot his favorite looks. After all, Chamalet doesn’t have a stylist, or if he does, it’s a secret. When I press him on the topic, he keeps mum.
It’s only as we’re wrapping up our conversation, when Chalamet is being summoned on set, that he starts to spill the beans. “You know Jamie actually has all the secrets… about my hair,” he says. Jamie who? I ask. “People know…” he says, flashing a wry smile. I might as well be the last person on earth to know about JaimeTaylor, who has been working for the last six years as Chalamet’s groomer, a word we both agree doesn’t accurately describe her craft. “I mean the word is evocative of a… horse!” he says with a laugh before lowering his voice to a whisper. “I saw Channing Tatum at this Jay-Z party. He’s worked with Jamie a lot longer than I have. So I thanked him. And he’s like, ‘Oh no, it’s all good, you didn’t steal her, don’t worry!’ Then this person—I won’t say who—was like ‘Are you guys really talking about your groomer?!’” he says. “I was like, oh, here we are.”