Elle Fanning bounces into the room of a Hollywood motel – knee-length high street summer dress, Agyness Deyn for Dr Martens shoes, blue Chanel cardigan, and blonde hair flying everywhere – and it’s like a ray of sunshine has burst in. With her mega smile and hugs all round, you can totally see why Rookie founder and all-round voice of her generation Tavi Gevinson once described Elle as ‘the best instant-happiness supplier of all’.
Having acted since she was two years old, and now just turned 16, you’d think there might be a sense of ennui, what with the stream of photo shoots, interviews and general jazz hands that being in the public eye demands. Not for Elle. Everything is ‘so cool!’ and ‘amazing!’ and whether she’s talking to you about acting alongside Angelina Jolie or what she thinks about her school uniform, it’s all delivered with equal amounts of enthusiasm.
In some ways [the Tumblr obsession, the lazy weekends spent at the mall with her friends], she’s just your average 16-year-old girl. But in other ways [SS14 Miu Miu campaign, Sofia Coppola on speed dial], she’s absolutely not. This month, she’s living out a childhood dream, playing a Disney princess [Sleeping Beauty no less] in Maleficent. ‘I used to always say I wanted to be a Disney princess,’ she says, her face full of glee, ‘and Aurora was always my favourite.’ It’s her biggest role to date, starring opposite Angelina Jolie, Sam Riley and Juno Temple, and, as you might be able to tell, she’s kind of excited.
It’s not like Elle’s a stranger to fame, having been in films such asSomewhere, Super 8 and We Bought A Zoo [sister Dakota is also in the business], but still, the thought of meeting Ms Jolie was pretty intimidating, even to her. ‘She’s, like, the most famous person ever,’ she says. ‘I’d never met her previously. She’s this big name, so I was a bit star-struck, but she was so fun, just really nice. You can just giggle with her, nothing is uptight or weird.’
‘I’m a California girl in New York. I’ll be at the Met Ball and, like, I want an In-n-Out burger so bad!’
Elle filmed Maleficent just outside of London on the back of Ginger & Rosa, another movie she starred in also filmed in the capital. While she’s a California girl through and through, you can tell spending time in London made her pretty happy, especially when it came to shopping.
‘I was basically there for that whole year,’ she says. ‘I loved it! I’m so used to L.A. weather, and the weather in London is so different, so you totally wear a new wardrobe. I love the big Topshop in London. It’s where I found my Halloween costume – I went as a Barbie Statue of Liberty.
‘I love the vintage shopping too, especially at Rockit. In L.A., the vintage stores can be expensive and all very dressy, but in London it’s more practical, a little more rugged and I like that. I like Selfridges too, and my mum loves Liberty and Cath Kidston.’
It’s a pretty unanimous view in the fashion world that Elle’s got it nailed when it comes to style. Ever since she first started doing red-carpet events [it’s only really been four years], she’s become a fashion favourite. She’s BFFs with Rodarte designers, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, as well as being someone Karl calls to put on the Chanel front row.
‘I’ve known him for a while,’ she says. ‘Ever since he did a shoot with my sister when she was 12. He’s just so cool, such an interesting guy, with his fingerless gloves and his Diet Coke. The Chanel couture show was the first one I ever went to, so that was special to me. I remember sitting there with my mouth completely dropping.’
She was also in the recent Miu Miu ad campaign alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Lizzie Olsen and Léa Seydoux, and Marc Jacobs cast her in his ads after meeting her through Sofia Coppola [who directed her in 2010’s Somewhere and who Elle now thinks of as a ‘big sister’]. Then there’s Anna Wintour… ‘I see her at shows, and I always say hey, but she has her glasses on and you’re like… “Is she looking at me?!”’
‘I met Beyoncé the first time I went,’ she grins. ‘I was 13 and I was with my sister, who knew that I loved Beyoncé so much and wanted to meet her. Dakota was talking to her and introduced me, but I couldn’t really say anything. Beyoncé turned around and she was glowing. She said, “You look so cute!” She wasreally cool
The other times, my sister and I have been with [Rodarte’s] Kate and Laura, and Kirsten Dunst. We’re all California girls in New York, so we’ll be at the Met Ball and, like, we want an In-N-Out burger so bad!’
It would be easy to get swept up in this world of fashion, but for Elle, her favourite place to shop is still low-key fashion mall The Grove in L.A. ‘It’s kind of cheesy,’ she laughs. ‘But it’s great! You can shop, you can eat, you can go to the movies…’
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