Actress Whitney Peak is the fresh new face of Coco Mademoiselle. Her connection with the maison shows there is more than meets the eye.
Actress Whitney Peak is seated on a couch in a plush suite at the La Réserve Hotel in Paris. It’s couture week in the City of Lights and Peak, in her new role as the face of the Coco Mademoiselle fragrance campaign, is positively glowing. Even more beautiful in person, Peak is petite with fine, chiseled features, and radiates warmth and a big character for her 20 years. Dressed in head-to-toe Chanel – blue jeans, a rose tweed sweater, booties, and fine jewelry – she appears fresh and cool. The actress of Ugandan origin, who later grew up in Canada, embodies French girl chic, the indescribable formula coursing through her veins. There’s also something in the air – and in her hair. “I like to apply my perfume on my wrists but also here,” she confides, pointing to her curls. “I’m not very tall and so this way, when people come close, I figure they’ll still smell me,” she laughs, hair bobbing, the scent of patchouli filling the air.
Lean in closer and there are also fresh citrus fruits peppering the air. Is it the Coco Mademoiselle Eau Intense? Or is it the Extrait? The Coco Mademoiselle scent accented by iris pallida? Perhaps it is the Eau de Parfum with a dual interplay of citrus mixed with distinguished patchouli, orange essence, and a heart of jasmine and rose accords. All of it accented with patchouli and vetiver for a timeless, signature perfume. Maybe it is the Eau de Parfum Intense with oranges from Sicily and bergamot flowers from Calabria in Southern Italy. Patchouli essence is underscored and combined with tonka bean absolute and vanilla absolute from Madagascar. No, the scent is too light. Peak is wearing the L’Eau Privée. Fresh citrus, patchouli, orange, and a soft floral accord of jasmine absolute and rose petals with white musk notes.
If, in conversation, Peak offers a glimpse of the unconventional, she confirms that in life, she is drawn to all that is different. She describes her personal style as “unpredictable eclectic,” and admits to wearing plenty of Seventies and Eighties New Yorker staples. Blazers, buttondown vests, collars, and ties. She considers “strange and bizarre” as beautiful. “There’s a very strong definition of beauty right now, I’m sure there always has been,” she says. “When you don’t fit there – I’m drawn to that. It’s not necessarily about vanity, it’s also projects or movies or books, anything that’s not common, not often seen.”
It’s a line of thinking that is in parallel to a young Coco Chanel, who, in the early 1900s, revolutionized women’s fashion, using effortless fabrics, and creating sophisticated, uncomplicated styles that freed her contemporaries of the constraints of the fashions of the time. The actress offers thoughtfully that she stands for the maison’s values of perseverance, being bold, staying true to oneself, confidence, and self-identity. Her own personal values include compassion, hard work, and community.
Peak joined the maison Chanel family in 2021 when she was named Chanel US Local Ambassador. She was previously the face of the 22 bag alongside actresses Lily-Rose Depp and Margaret Qualley. In the past few years, she’s studied the life and work of Chanel and points to the sheer strength of the founder’s character. “Yes, she’s built this entire empire but then I never thought about the time in which she did it, and what it was like to be a woman then, and to have all these opinions that were shocking and strange. Perseverance – to not care and have a strong sense of self-identity to make everything that she wanted happen, without really caring if people were going to like it,” she says.
The maison Chanel saw in Peak a strong parallel to the essence of its perfume, stating, “She is the incarnation of Coco Mademoiselle’s original personality, a young woman who moves towards her destiny to become who she truly is and wants to be. Whitney Peak’s joy, spirit, and energy are contagious.”
The actress began her career with a small role in Aaron Sorkin’s film Molly’s Game and soon afterwards landed a starring role in the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina; Home Before Dark on Apple TV. Two years ago, she earned a lead role in the reboot of the Gossip Girl series, and the lead in Hocus Pocus 2, released on Disney+. She has no less than three movies filming this year. As for role models, Peak considers EGOT actress Viola Davis her “holy grail.” She furthers, “I’m enthralled by her. She can come on the screen once and I’m in tears. Maybe she reminds me of my mom – I think she’s brilliant.”
Despite a demanding career, the actress still finds time for her hobbies like reading and painting – something she enjoys as a decompressor. “Something like that,” she says, pointing to a tableau on the wall featuring large swathes of primal color paint. Next to it is a giant TV, and the Coco Mademoiselle campaign is screened. Peak is youthful and joyous, buzzing around town, dancing, and embracing every opportunity that seems to come on the wings of Coco Mademoiselle’s fragrant trail.
“I hope the public feels the energy of the video, from the photos, and the portrait of Coco Mademoiselle that we are trying to paint. When I watch the video – it’s weird because it’s me – but it makes you… well it makes you want to be Coco Mademoiselle. I want that perfume; I need to live that life,” says Peak. “The fragrance itself has two sides to it. It’s subtle but it’s also very sensual and bold and I kind of have that as well. I have a quieter, more solitary part of me and I also have that be-out-until-all-hours-of-the-night side. The perfume has become part of my every day, it’s a finishing touch. I feel complete, ready, and prepared.”
Originally published in the March 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia
Interview: Caterina Minthe
Style: Chiara Ficola
Hair: Marc Orsatelli at Agence Aurelien
Nails: Fanny Santa Rita at Call My Agent
Digitech: Raphaël Bourda
Producer: Danica Zivkovic
Production coordinator: Vanessa Zeitouny
Lighting assistant: Theophile Parat
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