We speak to Kate Winslet about how the notion of elegance has evolved over time.
Entering the Hollywood scene at a time when the film industry still held antiquated views of women, Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet has built her incredible career on a plethora of memorable performances that go against classic stereotypes, and she has long garnered praise for her brave and honest approach to standing up for what she believes in.
An advocate of natural beauty, she is known for speaking up about the choice of wearing makeup and body image – choosing to celebrate so-called flaws and wrinkles over edited perfection – which makes her an inspiring and uplifting role model for women today.
When talking about elegance, Kate represents the modern idea of that. Speaking with her in Paris at the Longines Global Champions Show Jumping tour earlier this summer, she reflected on how the meaning of ‘elegance’ has changed a lot over time.
Kate, an ambassador of elegance for Longines for the past 13 years, has consistently represented the core values of credibility, authenticity and the notion of true elegance being when the inside of a person is as beautiful as the outside. “Elegance is an attitude – men and women can both be elegant now, it’s no longer an outdated stereotype reserved for feminine style or a certain type of woman. For me elegance means power, comfortability with oneself, and being true to oneself.’
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And this is something both Kate and Longines are channelling. Kate tells us she loves their DolceVita x YVY watch because ‘it’s cool, it’s androgynous, it’s powerful and it’s chic,” she says. “It’s elegant, but it has an edge”. The key feature of the timepiece is an equestrian-inspired double leather strap, created by Yvonne Reichmuth, founder of contemporary Zurich-based leather accessories company YVY.
No stranger to pushing boundaries and challenging conventions herself, Yvonne combines traditional craftsmanship with bold, provocative design, and she is best known for creating sensual yet sophisticated glam-rock accessories and leather harnesses, which have been worn by celebrities including Billie Eilish, Cardi B, Taylor Swift, Kristen Stewart, Monica Bellucci and Kylie Jenner.
Just as in timekeeping, precision, professionalism and performance are crucial to Kate’s success as an actor, and when we caught up with her, she had just been working as the lead role in Channel 4’s third I Am series, in partnership with BAFTA-winning filmmaker director Dominic Savage, called I Am Ruth. Each standalone drama in the I Am series features three separate episodes, named after the main character, and are based on one woman at one particular moment in her life, exploring emotionally raw, personal and thought-provoking situations.
“What’s interesting is that it’s all improvised, and we created the structure of the story together, and we had a beginning and middle and end, and a script with scenes within it, but every scene was just a description of what happens,” she reveals. “The actors come in and improvise and create the narrative, so it was an amazing challenge, but also very scary!”
The popularity of the previous I Am series suggests audiences are gripped by the grittiness of real life, rather than the illusion of ‘perfect lives’, and that there is a certain strength and elegance in expressing honest and candid emotions as a woman in today’s world.
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And from improvised drama to eccentric individualism, Kate’s recent role in the popular Mare of Easttown portrayed a refreshing roughness, which was a far cry from glamour and delicate beauty, but led to audiences obsessively tuning in, drawn not only to the storyline, but to the character of Mare – a complex, flawed, middle-aged woman – who was rivetingly relatable.
“We could never have anticipated how successful Mare of Easttown would be,” explains Kate, who picked up an Emmy – Lead Actress in a Limited Series – for her performance. “The global circumstance of the pandemic added to how impactful it ended up being, and Mare represented how everyone was feeling during this time. What audiences want, and their ability to vocalise what they appreciate, is constantly changing. And it’s very powerful. I care about digging deep and delivering good work, but you can never know what is going to wow an audience until it goes out. And the timing of it is key.”
While TV series will come and go, one thing’s for sure – Kate remains very much in touch with what audiences connect with, and her unique ability of being able to capture the zeitgeist of the day, means for us, her elegance remains timeless.