As one of the finest actresses of her generation, Kate Winslet is widely admired, respected and adored for her immense talent. After making a debut at the age of 17 in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures more than two decades ago, it was a series of sparkling performances, starting with Sense and Sensibility, and ultimately, a leading role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as star-crossed lovers in the blockbuster Titanic that catapulted her to international recognition and stardom.
It was only a matter of time before she chalked up the industry’s highest accolades—namely Oscar, BAFTA, Emmy, Grammy and a host of other awards, with notably seven Oscar nominations to date—but even with all these under her belt, Winslet remains refreshingly down-to-earth and authentic. An invitation from Longines to spend a weekend in Chantilly, France, back in June and attend Prix de Diane Longines opened the door to an interview opportunity with the accomplished actress, a member of the Longines family since 2010.
Read on for our interview with Kate Winslet :
Perched on a couch in a suite at the Auberge du Jeu de Paume, the Longines Ambassador of Elegance is the perfect picture of elegance itself. Sporting a loose updo coiffure and a black blouse-and-pencil skirt ensemble, the multiple award-winning actress is poised and smiling. She looks as immaculate in person as her photogenic self in photographs and on film—soft blonde hair, deep blue eyes and flawlessly dewy skin.
The discussion kickstarts with the topic of her favourite Longines watches. “I have two favourites. One is my Heritage watch, which was the first watch I was ever given by Longines. I love it because it’s a very classical-looking watch— substantial and quite masculine, with something strong, earthy and grounded about it,” she says without missing a beat.
“It also takes me back to a place in time where I was in Rome at the first commercial shoot I was doing for Longines. It was a very exciting, unexpected moment and I went home with this very beautiful timepiece. For me, that’s very special because there’s so much memory connected to it.
“And then the watch that I helped design two years ago at the factory at Saint-Imier. It was inspired by a beautiful Art Deco watch they had at the museum there. I absolutely loved the pale beige colour of the strap. So yes, those are my two favourites.” In 2017, five gold pieces of the Flagship Heritage by Kate Winslet wristwatches were produced with three of them auctioned to benefit the Golden Hat Foundation.
LONGINES RECORD CELEBRATION
Naturally, the attention is then directed towards the timepiece on Winslet’s wrist; she confirms it is a Longines Record collection model in stainless steel and rose gold, with a mother- of-pearl face which she describes as “delicate and subtle, and looks like the inside of a shell,” and adds, “I think it’s absolutely stunning and lovely. The other thing that’s nice is that the twelve has two diamonds while the other numbers have a (single) diamond. It just makes it that little bit extra special.”
Later that evening at the special celebration held at the spectacular Château de Chantilly, Kate Winslet and fellow actor and Longines Amabassador Of Elegance Simon Baker, appearing together for the first time in the same venue, take to the stage to highlight the Longines Records model in stainless steel and rose gold as the Official Watch of the 2019 edition of Prix de Diane Longines.
Thereafter, guests witness the unveiling of exclusive visuals from a joint photoshoot featuring both actors and a watch pair from the Longines Record collection.
THE LONGINES WOMAN
Back to the interview, Winslet is asked about who she thinks is the Longines woman is. “A Longines woman is someone who is graceful and strong. I think we’re in a really important time in history. A woman now has to be an admirer of other women. We have to stick together, women are greater together,” she emphasises.
“A Longines woman has to be that woman to acknowledge and appreciate other women in the space; to encourage friendships, connections and alliances; and move through life with a sense of openness, energy and positivity we have as women. We have the ability to walk into a room and to make everyone feel really good, we do. It’s a gift we all have—for us to own and do it. For me, that is a Longines woman.”
BEING LONGINES AMBASSADOR OF ELEGANCE
Having held the role as Longines Ambassador of Elegance for a decade, the question of what it means to be in partnership with the Swiss watchmaker automatically arises. “It’s a big responsibility because there is a small group of us (ambassadors) from different parts of the world. I don’t think that Longines makes those decisions lightly as to who they want to represent their brand,” she says. “To me, it means a great deal to be able to speak with a degree of truth about the brand, and their morals and sense of family. Also, the importance in precision, professionalism and performance—those are also the things I have to be as an actor doing the job that I do.
“I feel very respected by the brand and very included. I appreciate the commitment that they make to the ambassadors, and also to the people who work for them. When I went to the factory at Saint-Imier, it was amazing to meet some of these people who have been there for 10, 20, and some of them 30 years, and whose families have worked there before them. Longines really does feel the sense of duty to those people to take care of them. It is wonderful so it means a great deal,” she reveals.
ENJOYING THE PARENTING LIFE
A mother of three, the prolific actress deserves praise for her hands-on approach towards parenthood, being a busy working actress and Hollywood A-lister. “The most precious time of my day? Well, I have a few. Sometimes I wake up very early in the morning without meaning to and I go downstairs to make coffee quietly while everyone’s still asleep. I will read and just enjoy that time as the rest of my day has lots going on with children in school.
“But then I also really love when everyone’s back from school. They have homework to do, we’re cooking and everyone is together. I love those moments when memories are made as a family, and for my children when they look back, they will remember my cooking smells and my food on the table. Our family time is so important, especially now with social media almost destroying family dynamics because children are constantly distracted by their phones. We don’t have any social media in our house so we’re very lucky that we can all just talk to each other, play fun games and be together. We really enjoy those moments. That’s another special time.”
WHY SHE CO-FOUNDED GOLDEN HAT FOUNDATION
Responsibility and commitment are ideals that Winslet not only looks up to, but champions and sets in motion in her personal life. When asked about her involvement in philanthropy, she replies, “Philanthropy is such a big word. The Golden Hat Foundation (goldenhatfoundation.org) was something I felt compelled to become a part of—I co-founded it with my friend Margaret D. Ericsdotti because of her son, Keli, who is non- verbal autistic.
“I was asked to provide the narration for a documentary, A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back To Autism, about Margaret and Keli. I was not just moved by the story, but I felt this enormous sense of responsibility that someone had to do something to talk about the plight of these individuals and their families,” she says. “It just wasn’t OK with me that the parents of these children live with the fear of what would become of the child should anything happen to them. And the fear, of course, is that they would be put into an institution and be forgotten.”
Working alongside Ericsdotti, Winslet has learned a great deal from her son and his friends from their school in Austin, Texas. “Autistic individuals often have a much higher level of intelligence than we all do or a typically developing child does. To be that clever and imaginative, and to have so many dreams, but never to be able to express them or to speak. It is heartbreaking.
“I formed The Golden Hat Foundation (a non-profit organisation which Longines has joined in to support since 2015) with Margaret in 2010 because we wanted to create a platform to talk more about these individuals. It is to not just raise awareness, but also to draw attention to them so that they are appreciated and valued as upstanding members of our society,” she explans. “Our long-term goal is to raise sufficient funds so that we could perhaps start to create assisted-living facilities for these individuals when they reach early adulthood, if they want that independence from their families, but they can’t ever really live alone.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING CAUSES
Winslet’s passion and fervour in coming to the aid of the weak, defenceless and marginalised is brought further to light. “How do I choose what causes I support? Often things will just come to me. The world is good at raising awareness and funds for big-scale disasters—famines, hurricanes, cancer research. What about the “little people”, the individuals, the people who live in the north of England who’ve got no money for the cancer treatment that could save their life? That’s not OK with me,” she explains.
“I always find myself drawn to the plight of the individual—those who are never going to be able to help themselves, or no specialist organisation that can help them. Where I can, I try and do that,” she says. “My husband and I are sponsoring a couple of children now with private schooling or education because this family unexpectedly lost their father and the mother couldn’t earn enough money for the children. They had to go to a different school where they were bullied and unhappy.
“I will always be very touched by those kinds of circumstances. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in life is that if you’re in a fortunate position like I am, if you can give and you can do things that will make a difference to just one person, you just do it. It’s the greatest privilege. It is extraordinary.”
Leaving the interview, one cannot help being awed by her luminous beauty, sense of dignity and talent, but even more so by what an extraordinary person Kate Winslet is—her sincerity, compassion and beneficence are the true hallmarks of an elegant attitude.