Thursday, September 19, 2013

Emma Watson covers The Edit [New interview and photoshoot]

[Gallery] [Fashion] [Version française]

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When Livia Firth asked five designers to create sustainably produced gowns for her Green Carpet Challenge, actress and eco champion EMMA WATSON was the natural choice to showcase the results. She talks to ALISON PRATO about what the project means to her, plus the designers share the ethics behind the aesthetics.

There is not much that Emma Watson let stand in the way of her goals: not the way Hollywood pigeonholes its actors; not the staring eyes of strangers everywhere she goes; and certainly not the pitfalls that so often face child stars making the transition into adult life. 
When we meet in a historic New York hotel retaurant for breakfast, Watson is so put-together, so utterly charming, that I can't help but wonder how someone who has been in the public eye for more than half her life is so well-grounded. But as we talk, it becomes clear. Watson, 23, is professionalism personified. It is perhaps not surprising, she was just 11 years old when she won the role of Hemrione Granger in the Harry Potter movie. During the 10 years she was part of the multi-billion dollar franchise, she quietly matured into one of the smartest young actresses of her generation. She makes flawless red-carpet appearances, avoids club-hopping, and treats every aspect of her job like a pro - including showing up for interviews, like this one, early. 
"I don't do anything by halves," she says, looking pared back and gamine in a gray and black blouse, high-waisted shorts and not a scrap of makeup. "I have to go all in. I just want things to be perfect. If I'm going to put my name on it, I want it to be something I love." 
Watson is talking about fair trade, a subject she studied while at Brown University, Rhode Island (where she enrolled in 2009), and the cause she is pouring her heart into, the Green Carpet Challenge (GCC). Eco campaigner Livia Firth began the GCC in 2009 to catapult ethical fashion into the global spotlight. 
For Firth's latest project, she asked five British-based designers to each create two event pieces exclusively for NET-A-PORTER. But who to showcase them? The two women had met previously at a party, so when Firth asked Watson to join the project, she jumped aboard. "I was like, 'No one's doing anything like this!' It's so exciting." 
Having grown up on the red carpet, Watson knows first-hand that sustainable style and glamourous gowns have never been totally simpatico. "I've always had this huge problem," she says. "I would love to wear garments that are ethically sourced, but there aren't enough options for me to be able to do that realistically." So when she met Firth, "it just seemed like [the project] was something I had to do, something I'd been waiting for." Her eyes light up. "Livia's created a lobbying body to put pressure on governments and corporations to encourage them to have [ethical responsability] as their baseline. It's quite awesome." 
The GCC isn't Watson's only fashion-related project. In 2010, she designed the first of three collections for Fairtrade brand People Tree. In 2011, she used her expertise to create a sustainably produced capsule collection with Alberta Ferretti, Pure Threads. The projects were well received: "Though they were tiny collections, they seemed to raise awareness and a groundswell of interest," Watson says. 
It is an interest she has long held. As she grew up in Oxfordshire, England, her father would purposefully take her to farms so she understood the origins of the food on her plate. "Maybe there would be fewer problems if we were really conscious of where and how things were made," Watson says passionately. "We don't support slave labor in this country, so we shouldn't support those conditions in other countries. I can't wrap my head around why ethical clothing is a speciality and not a base standard. Why is it special to have something you know wasn't made under terrible conditions by a 12-year-old girl for 20 pences an hour?" She pauses, looking slightly embarassed. "It's hard to talk about this stuff without sounding preachy." But she doesn't sound preachy; she sounds like a woman who's figured out what she cares about most, and is taking a stand. 
Watson's film résumé, too, shows her desire to take on meaningful projects. She calls herself a "director chaser" and makes a concerted effort to work with "people who really have vision. It's fun to help create something with someone who has a clear goal." Post-Potter, she took two jobs that couldn't be further from prim Hermione. In 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, she played Sam, the indie music-loving love interest, in this year's The Bling Ring, she was Nicki, a tramp-stamped Valley Vixen. And next March she'll star in Noah, Darren Aronofsky's Biblical epic, as Noah's adopted daughter Ila, alongside Russell Crowe. 
Watson is not only emerging as one of Hollywood's leading actresses, she is also one of its best dressed, counting many notable red-carpet moments in her career, and fronting a campaign for Burberry. It wasn't always the case. Back in the Potter days, long before she worked with a stylist, Watson would raid her mother's and her stepmother's closets for premieres. "They just didn't design stuff for 11-year-olds," she says, laughing. "There's some stuff I think, 'I never should have worn that!'" When I mention the 2001 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone premiere, she almost spits out her apple juice. "It was a long, denim Kenzo dress, and these crazy fake-python boots. I loved it! You wouldn't expect an 11-year-old girl to wear that. But I've always been adventurous." 
These days, Watson takes fashion more seriously. "Getting ready for an event can feel like a lot of pressure," she says. "You have to consider, 'Will people see up my skirt? If a flash goes off, can you see through this?' So I'll do a test sitting, a test standing... It's nerve-wracking. People really scrutinize." Off duty, she is all about comfort: "On the red carpet, I'm usually in so much discomfort - my shoes are uncomfortable, I can't breathe in the dress. I don't compromise like that in my everyday style." 
When I ask what she's wearing today, Watson puts her head down in mock shame and laughs. "I was worried you were going to do this!" She checks for tags on her clothes, but can't find any. "A lot of my clothes have been altered, so the tags are out," she says. "But I can tell you that I have Chloé flats on!" 
One thing is clear, if not knowing what label she is wearing is her only idea of a misstep, Emma Watson is in excellent shape.

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