19 Nov Vanity Fair celebrates Natalie Wood
Read the whole story at Vanity Fair.
“She always knew I’d be a girl and that she’d name me Natasha, that was her real name,” says Natasha Gregson Wagner of her late mother, Natalie Wood, the legendary 1960s Hollywood star. “I was ‘Little Natasha‘ and my mother was ‘Big Natasha. ‘
Tragically, Wood drowned when Wagner was 11 years old, leaving behind a giant void in the young girl’s life. For Wagner, the scent of her mother, more so than any photographs or films, became the trigger that flooded her with memories. “Because my mother was so famous, seeing images of her didn’t elicit the same intimate reaction as smelling something of hers,” she says. Jungle Gardenia was Wood’s signature scent (and also a favorite of Barbara Stanwyck’s and Elizabeth Taylor’s), which she wore for most of her life. “A waft of gardenia could bring me back to private moments with my mother, moments where she was just our mom—a hug, a cuddle, sleeping in her bed.”
Inspired by her mother’s love of fragrance, Wagner decided to pay homage to Wood’s memory by creating Natalie, a modern gardenia perfume launching on May 8th. This fragrant tribute is filled with bright hints of freesia and orange flower, warmed by French vanilla and musk base notes. The very symbolic and personal perfume marks the beginning of a broader plan to release more products influenced by Wood’s other endearing passions, such as butterflies, jewelry, and linens. Plus, later this year, Running Press is publishing the family’s first authorized book, in collaboration with Turner Classic Movies, which will be featuring a month-long run of Natalie Wood films.
For Wagner, the journey has been exciting and fulfilling, yet also bittersweet. “There were times during the process when I felt overwhelmed and I really missed her. I would have loved to have talk to her about balancing kids and a career. I fantasized about how she would give me advice and help watch my daughter, Clover, if I needed her to. The grief morphs and evolves, but it’s never gone.”
Despite the painful moments, there have also been some pleasant surprises, such as the time Wagner got a call from Robert Redford. “I certainly wasn’t expecting a voice mail from him. We had never spoken before,” she says. “He told me they had gone to Van Nuys High School together, and my mother had been instrumental in casting him in one of his first feature films, Inside Daisy Clover. It was clear he really loved and respected her.”
Having surpassed her mother’s age (Wood died at the age of 43), Wagner, now 45, finds herself feeling “incredibly maternal towards her,” she says. “I’ve come across photos and writings of hers that I had never seen and have learned so much about her during this process. Yes, she was always ‘Big Natasha’ and I was ‘Little Natasha,’ but maybe now I am both and I have finally grown up!”