Ansel Elgort on Becoming the New Face of Ralph Lauren Fragrance
The 'Baby Driver' actor celebrates the release of Polo Red Rush tonight in New York.
There’s more of Ansel Elgort than meets the eye in the campaign for Polo Red Rush, the latest fragrance by Ralph Lauren, which is arriving in stores next week.
Yes, Elgort is the star of the campaign imagery, which includes a 95-second film shot in Los Angeles, Arizona and California’s salt flats — but that’s also Elgort on the soundtrack, singing “Home Alone,” the dance single he dropped July 8.
While he’s produced several EDM tracks and remixes as a DJ under the name Ansolo, “Home Alone” is the first single that includes Elgort’s voice and real name. “Originally, I wanted to make a brand new song for the campaign, but everyone kept saying how much they loved ‘Home Alone,’ the first song I’ve ever put out as Ansel Elgort,” the actor says. “They sent me the first cut of the commercial, and all of a sudden it had that song on it. It really did fit, so I said, ‘OK, let’s use it.’”
Tonight Elgort will celebrate the debut of the campaign and his status as Ralph Lauren’s newest global brand ambassador with a splashy party at a car-centric venue in New York – fitting, given the little red Corvette and the pair of vintage Mustangs that likewise appear in the film. As he’s shown speeding down an L.A. highway, you also can’t help but conjure thoughts of Elgort’s role in Baby Driver, the 2017 film that earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
At 24 years old, Elgort isn’t one of those millennials who doesn’t believe in wearing fragrance; from the time he was 12 he would borrow scents from his older brother, Warren. “It was an easy thing to put on that had me thinking that maybe girls would like me more,” he remembers. “As I got older, I learned to use it more sparingly. Now I save it for special occasions, like when I have to smell like a leading man.”
He also has quick opinions about how his characters might live with fragrance. “Baby Driver wouldn’t wear anything; he doesn’t even wear deodorant,” Elgort says. His character in The Goldfinch, the film from Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set for release in October 2019, is another matter. “Theo Decker would probably wear that old stuff that comes in the big bottle.” Bay rum? “Yes, that’s it. He’d love bay rum.”
Polo Red Rush is the fourth iteration since Polo Red debuted in 2013 and quickly vaulted into the stratosphere as one of Ralph Lauren’s most popular fragrances. With sparkling top notes of red mandarin, grapefruit and pineapple and middle notes of fresh mint, orange flower and saffron against a base of cedarwood, musk and red coffee, this latest edition is indeed designed to feel younger and fresher. “We wanted to give [the scent] an energy and another dimension,” explains master perfumer Olivier Gillotin. “We liked the idea of capturing the moment of the heart starting to beat faster, but finding a way to make that last.”
That sensation comes through in the film as well. It starts with a party in the Hollywood Hills, when Elgort catches the eye of a female DJ. Soon they’re leaving the party and racing through the L.A. streets; by sunrise they’re hightailing it around the salt flats before jumping off a cliff into a river, a scene Elgort remembers well. “It was freezing,” he says. He didn’t do the leap, but he did do a lot of the driving, even though the production had hired the same stunt person who doubled for him on Baby Driver.
Elgort also asked to boost the image of the girl in the film: Originally she was written solely as a party guest, but the actor says he suggested making her a musician (a DJ ended up being more efficient for the story and budget). His other contributions to the story included handing her the car keys and suggesting she should jump off the cliff first. “That and letting her also drive was about putting her character more on equal footing with mine, because they did want to pull ideas from my personal life,” he says.
He’s been dating ballet dancer Violetta Komyshan for seven years, and Elgort says he was thinking about her as the campaign’s storyline was coming together. “She’s the type of girl who would want to get behind the wheel herself,” he says.
This latest project ultimately seems to bring all of Elgort’s loves together: not only acting, music and an homage to Komyshan, but fashion as well. His father is the celebrated fashion photographer Arthur Elgort, so “I’ve always been into it,” Ansel reasons. He appeared with Kate Mara in a Rag & Bone short film that debuted in February and was on the front row for Virgil Abloh’s first Louis Vuitton collection in June. Prada and Alexander McQueen, meanwhile, were among the labels he wore during his Baby Driver press tour in 2017, looks that were coordinated by his longtime stylist, John Tan. “Some stylists put something on you and say that’s what you have to wear, but I feel like John is my partner in fashion and clothing,” Elgort says. “It’s like a costume. I like putting on a costume as an actor, as a character, and I like doing it in my life as well. A costume can make you feel different, hold yourself differently, and I think cologne can work in the same way.”
Before he signed with Ralph Lauren, you also could find Ansel Elgort at the designer’s annual sample sales at Soiffer Haskin in New York’s Garment District. “One thing I’ve always appreciated about Ralph Lauren is that its aesthetic in general has always stayed kind of consistent. With some designers I might like one season but not the next, but that doesn’t happen with Ralph,” he says, noting that his closet would easily prove this premise. “Only a few years ago I was spending all my new money on Ralph Lauren,” he says, before adding with a smile, “now I could probably get it for free.”