In the dark of Paris Saturday night, in some quiet corner of the City of Lights, Lily Collins got out of her car with friends and did exactly what every other tourist, fashion week attendee, and Parisian has done at least once in their life.
"We get out, and watch it sparkle, and I just like to stand there, looking at it," she said, referencing, of course, the immortal Eiffel Tower. "It's so special and so beautiful. Paris is such a magical place."
It's a ritual that the actress, 28, makes a point to do every time she's in Paris. On this particular visit, Collins, who was seen earlier this year in Okja and To The Bone, was in town to attend the Givenchy Spring 2018 fashion show, where newly installed artistic director Clare Waight Keller debuted her first collection for the storied house.
"I am so excited to see what Clare brings to the brand. I think she’s going to mix the masculine and feminine vibe together really well," she said before the show, noting that she has actually been a big fan of the house for quite some time. "I’ve loved the brand ever since I was little, just because of its association with Audrey," gushed Collins, who is sometimes compared to the late legend. And how could a young actress not?
Hubert de Givenchy not only built a lasting fashion house but he also dressed Hepburn for her films Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's, My Fair Lady, and Charade.
On Sunday, before the show, Collins wasn't exactly channeling Audrey Hepburn. She had thick eyeliner on, and her hair was styled in a wet, slick up-do. "I wanted to change it up slightly. Nothing too expected," she said.
What is to be expected, however, is that Collins, the daughter of musician Phil Collins, has great taste in music, if her early pre-fashion show playlist is any indication. As The Eagles played in the background, Collins said she managed to sneak in one other fun thing in Paris, despite having just arrived the previous day. "I went to the Crillon to see it after it had been redone," she said.
The Hôtel de Crillon just re-opened its doors in July after a multi-year modernization and refurbishment. However, it still did look familiar to Collins, who had made her debut there as a young debutant exactly a decade before.
"I was walking in and saying to my friends, ‘That’s where I was presented, that’s where I walked down the stairs, that’s where I got stuck in the elevator with my dress,'" she said, laughing. "It’s such a special place. Time goes by so fast; I feel really lucky to be back here."
Time does fly, and it was getting precariously close to departure time. Collins slipped on her Givenchy dress, zipped up her boots, and placed two golden rings on her fingers - both were a sneak peak from Keller's new collection. Before she even knew it, fashion week would be over, and she'd find herself in England, where she would begin filming the new J.R.R Tolkien biopic in which she portrays Edith, Tolkien's love and inspiration.
"I was just doing make-up and hair and wardrobe tests and rehearsals before fashion week," she said. "I’ve been a huge Lord of the Rings fan since I was young. Nicholas Hoult is the lead and I love him, and our director [Dome Karukoski] is really innovative. It is a total dream."
With that, Collins was off for another sort of dream. She emerged from the ornate elevator, hopped in her car, and took off for Givenchy.
Getting ready with Lily Collins before the Givenchy SS18 runway show in Paris on Saturday, Sept 30th. Photo by Ambra Vernuccio for W Magazine.