Margaret Qualley: ‘Karl Lagerfeld Taught Me How To Be Cool’

Grazia catches up with the break-out star of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

margaret qualley and sister

by Hattie Brett |
Updated on

When you’re Andie MacDowell’s daughter, you’ve modelled for Chanel and your latest role as the minx who seduces Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has shot you straight to the top of young Hollywood’s most in-demand list, you’d forgive a touch of nonchalance from Margaret Qualley (pictured above with her sister, Rainey). Not so at this week’s Chanel Metiers d’Art show though, where she told Grazia she was overcome by the set – and the clothes. ‘It’s particularly impressive because this morning I had a tour of Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s real apartment and they’ve done an amazing job recreating it,’ she said of the Hollywood-esque set Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard asked Oscar winning director Sofia Coppola to help her design. ‘What I loved about her apartment though is that there wasn’t a bed in it; she just used to go sleep at The Ritz.’

Another reason for Margaret’s enthusiasm? That she was watching from the front row, rather than walking in the show – something she first did in 2011. ‘I was 16 and it was my first time to Paris alone and my first go-see was at Chanel – where I got booked to do the show,’ she remembered. ‘I was so excited but I’d never really walked before so I didn’t know what to do!’ Luckily Karl Lagerfeld was on hand. ‘I grew up dancing, so I had really good posture, and I remember him teaching me how to slump my shoulders so I looked cooler and put my hands in my pockets in a very specific way,’ she laughs. ‘I’m not cool – it’s not a quality I have, that’s the truth – so I had to be very specifically instructed to look cool! But he did that for me.’

Being able to call him Brad is still kind of crazy.

Modelling segued into acting, her breakthrough coming when Quentin Tarantino cast her alongside Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in his controversial retelling of Sharon Tate’s murder. ‘It was nuts,’ she said of her first days on set. ‘I was intimidated to be even just visiting a Tarantino set because arguably he’s the best filmmaker alive; and I’m such a big fan of his, so I was nervous to begin with.’ But Brad made an effort to put her at ease. ‘Being able to call him Brad is still kind of crazy, but they were both really kind,’ she said. ‘A lot of time when you meet your heroes it’s a disappointment, so it was really an exceptional experience to be able to work with two people I’ve respected for a long time and have them be really awesome humans.’

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
©Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

She insists she hasn’t thought too much about the upcoming awards circuit, other than to know she’ll need her reassuring comforts: her family around her and a confidence-giving Chanel dress. ‘I’m not great on any red carpet so I try to bring my family, as I have done on this trip,’ she says. ‘My brother came with me to the Emmys. He lives in Montana and works on a ranch so it was really fun to have him there. And I was wearing Chanel so that was great!’

Luckily, in her first Metiers d’Art show since she took over from Karl in February, Virginie Viard has created a few more for Margaret to choose from. Our bet’s on the pieces emblazoned with the talismans Coco Chanel relied on – twin lions and sheaves of wheat to symbolise prosperity. Not that Margaret needs luck. But a bit of Coco Chanel’s spirit surely can’t hurt come awards season…


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