Rita Ora isn't joking when she sings "Let my perfume soak into your sweater" in her 2012 U.K. track "R.I.P." She literally lathers herself in layers of fragrances from the second she steps out of the shower.
It's a daily ritual for the upcoming Video Music Awards performer and Fifty Shades of Grey actress, who took over a corner of Madison Square Park on Tuesday with model Chrissy Teigen (and freshly baked pretzels from Cronut master Dominique Ansel) to help launch DKNY's MYNY fragrance, the new Big Apple-inspired scent that blends raspberries, Egyptian jasmine, patchouli heart and pink pepper accents in a heart-shaped bottle topped by a skyscraper-like spout.
"I'm a massive fragrance fan — I think fragrance is part of someone's hygiene, and I'm a big believer in leaving an impression through scent," the DKNY face told Pret-a-Reporter from inside a very air-conditioned SUV that was parked next to the fan-ridden pop-up. The singer noted that following the scent's progress was an overwhelming preview for hopefully headlining her own fragrance in the future. "It's crazy how many leaves there are in a scent — you wouldn't even know! I learned a lot from it."
Among the four things we learned about Ora between pretzel servings and MYNY spritzes: her recognizable scent while growing up, her daily fragrance rituals and her beauty regimen while playing Christian Grey's sister.
1. She was the best-scented kid on the block.
"I always remember smelling Chanel No. 5 at home — my mum used to literally pour it, and she rocked it," she said of her West London childhood home. "Candles were always scented in my house, and my body wash was always scented. My mum used to always wash us in nice smells because she always wanted us to smell good."
2. She's forever bound to Barclays.
After the singer performs at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Sunday during the MTV VMAs, she'll take the stage at Brooklyn's Barclays Center for Fashion Rocks — just across from her old Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower apartment. "I moved here when I was 18 to record my first album, and I was really scared, because I've always had this impression of New York being an intimidating, crazy busy place," she said. "I moved from London — living with my sister and my mom and dad, and sharing a bedroom — to having my own apartment. It was a big wake-up call. I mean, I grew up quick. What I'll remember about New York is growing up really fast."
3. She layers up on her way out the door.
Ora's indulgent practice is to layer — and sometimes mix — her scents every morning. "I mix my fragrances with body oils — I love body oils, so that's my little trick," she said, noting that she applies lotion and body oil before a couple of quick spritzes. "It's the first thing I put on when I get out of the shower. Then I cream my body, and then I put spray on, and then I put on underwear, and then I put on clothes and then I spray again." Preferring puff over roller, she then carries a bit in her bag to touch up in the middle of the day.
4. She smells different onstage and on set.
Though Ora always reapplies a decadent scent before picking up the mic, she noted that she went "plain and simple" for her next big-screen moment as Christian Grey’s (Jamie Dornan) adopted sister and French student in Fifty Shades of Grey. "Fifty Shades, for me, was a completely different world; I didn't have any beauty rituals because I didn't really know what was going on!" she said of playing Mia. "I honestly went in there blindfolded, but came out feeling like an actress. I worked among some incredible actors, and just to be part of the phenomenon was enough of a compliment for me — I didn't care if I had one line in the movie!" Ora added that fans can watch out for her "brown wig," "rosy cheeks and simple lip" come Valentine's Day.