Tess McMillan Doesn’t Want To Smell Like Anyone Else

The model and actor has been named one of the faces of Jean Paul Gaultier’s newest fragrance.

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Tess McMillan is Gen Z’s jack of all trades. The Texas-born and -bred model has walked in fashion shows all over the world, begun venturing into acting, and held her first solo art exhibition in Paris in the fall. She’ll casually slip into French at the dinner table and can readily produce a book recommendation. She’s the type of person you’d like to be when you grow up — except McMillan is, in fact, still growing up. The ambitious 23-year-old just has a very strong sense of direction — and she’s not slowing down anytime soon.

Now, the New York-based model is cementing her multi-hyphenate status with yet another role, this time as an official ambassador for Jean Paul Gaultier’s latest fragrance. Named Gaultier Divine, the scent is described as a fluid tension between floral and gourmand notes for “audacious women who are proudly and freely themselves,” according to the brand.

Below, McMillan shares the first time she broke into her mother’s beauty bag, what coming into her 20s means to her, and being one of the faces of Gaultier Divine.

Photo courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier

What’s your earliest beauty memory?

When I was a kid, I really wanted to get into my mother's makeup, [but] I was absolutely banned. One day I secretly went into her bathroom, locked the door, and I was giving myself a full makeover. And of course, as these things go ... Murphy's Law ... I dropped her blush and it exploded everywhere. I knew I was screwed. I got into a lot of trouble, but the beat was good.

What’s your earliest fragrance memory?

I think so many of my beauty and fragrance memories come from my mother, as I feel is true for a lot of people. I remember I would be going to bed, and she would be getting ready to go out to you know a party or a dinner or whatever, and she would come say goodbye. She always smelled so beautiful and luxurious.

How has your relationship with beauty evolved?

When I was sort of coming into my earlier 20s ... I felt like I really wanted to explore makeup and do bolder colors, bigger eyes. Now as I get to know myself a little bit better, I feel like I'm toning things down. But I still like to experiment a lot.

Photo courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier
Photo courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier
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What does Gaultier Divine remind you of? How would you describe the type of person who wears Gaultier Divine?

I think the fragrance reminds me of summer. It feels light and easy. The kind of person that I think of when I think of Gaultier Divine is somebody who likes to lay out in the sun for hours. I also think of fresh fruit.

Who is your biggest beauty inspiration?

The Italian singer Mina. She is absolutely iconic. I’m obsessed with her. I can not think of anyone I aesthetically admire more than her.

What do you like to smell like?

Um, I think I like to smell like nobody else. [Laughs.] Also, I think the most important thing to me when I’m sort of figuring out what my personal fragrance is — either for an evening or just in general — I want it to be comforting but also sort of hard to pinpoint.