Autumn’s fragrance launches include youth-targeted formulas by some of fashion’s biggest names. Rachel Marie Walsh takes a look at four of the season’s most-anticipated scents.
There is a funny design detail in Gucci’s current ready-to-wear collection: a glittering coat-of-arms, embellished with snakes, with a motto that reads “Do It Yourself.’ This call to self-endow reflects not only the Aughts establishment of celebrities as quasi-royal but the graduation of that idea to the ‘self-made’ royal/celeb you can make of your online avatar. Dolce and Gabbana made a similar appeal to millennials by supplementing their autumn catwalk contingent with reality tv personalities and celebrity spawn.
This is pandering, maybe, but how do you attract a generation that resists trend dictats from traditional outlets, responds to self-made ’influencers’ and self-records as reflexively as a billionaire’s wife with access to government planes? Support that self-belief, big time, by offering products that promise to do the same.
Gucci Bloom Eau de Parfum, €65/30ml, is Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s first fragrance for the brand. This is a floral bouquet that complements his colourful, vintage-inspired design aesthetic.
A preview of the film campaign for #GucciBloom, the first women’s scent for the House by #AlessandroMichele, featuring @dakotajohnson, @harinef and @petrafcollins and directed by @_glen_luchford. #InBloom Discover more through link in bio. Music: "The Rip" by Portishead (Universal Island Records Ltd)
He seems to be trying to charm to the young women of the world by including at least one flower each will like. The mix is heady and extremely romantic. White flowers, including natural sambac jasmine and heady tuberose, are mixed with woody accents of orris root. The blend is made luxurious by accords of Chinese honeysuckle and Rangoon creeper, an Indian vine with red flowers exclusive to this fragrance.So what does it smell like? In-your-face and non-complex, to my nose. This fragrance makes a strong, immediate statement that sticks around longer than you do.
Miss Dior Eau de Parfum €124.50/100ml, is a fragrance that keeps evolving because its essence, a young woman in love, has changed a lot since 2005. Back then, she was know as Miss Dior Chérie and very connected to Paris, with models Riley Keogh, Lily Donaldson and M Lynchuk conveying the spirits of various reformulations on the city’s streets. When Natalie Portman gave the brand her face in 2010, Miss Dior (to which the name was shortened in 2012) became as strongly identified with the soon-to-be Oscar winner as J’Adore is with Charlize.
Dior spends a lot on exquisite digital shorts befitting its leading ladies. This season’s looks more than a little like San Junipero, the dreamy, Emmy-nominated episode of Charlie Brooker’s Netflix series Black Mirror. Portman joyrides in a convertible that spews pink exhaust fumes, jumps off a pier in a sundress, wears a tutu on a bus and fights with a pretty man who has not proven his love, apparently, despite bringing her flowers. Should have gone with a bottle of perfume. I think that’s the message.
So Miss Dior 2012 seems a bit mad but the slices of life are comparable to an Instagram love-comic. The fragrance update itself is charming. An elegant blend of floral and citrus, Miss Dior enters with lemon, mandarin and pink pepper, wins you over with Damask and May roses and fades to a sweet base of rosewood and patchouli.
Saint Laurent really hands it to millennial men with Y by Yves Saint Laurent, €64/60ml, not just naming the new eau de toilette for Gen Y-ers but defining them as “a creative generation who dare to follow their passions and carve out there own paths”. As with Dylan Blue, Versace’s 2016 shot at the demo, the ad campaign stars young men “leading the charge in their respective fields”. The ‘Y-Crew’ includes UK hip-hop artist Loyle Carner, known for his confessional, emotional rhymes. David Alexander Flinn is a New York sculptor who melds organic and synthetic materials to show how that natural is — and sometimes cannot be — transformed by human interest or man-made structures. Alexandre Robicquet, presumably working to Flinn’s former aim entirely, is a Parisian A.I. researcher at the lab of Google X founder Sebastian Thrun.
It seems like having an online poll or some element of democratic selection would have bolstered the idea that three guys can rep their generation but these ones are definitely more interesting ‘faces’ than models or actors.
Content-wise, I think both Versace and Saint Laurent had more attractive men’s fragrances already available (Eros and L’Homme, respectively), no matter what your age, but it would be sexist to assume men buy this stuff to please women, especially as Y is so clearly about empowering them.
The formula is a slightly sporty fougere with citrus and ginger top-notes, a sage and geranium heart and a fir, incense and cedar base.
Calvin Klein Obsessed for Woman, €44.50/30ml, and Obsessed for Men, €41.90/30ml ‘Obsessed’ is just the word for a generation so caught up in its own devices but Calvin Klein fans will recognise a previous scent in the bottle’s shape and ad campaign. A quote from current Creative Director Raf Simons describes his team as “obsessed with Obsession,” further explaining the marketing deja vu. Both scents are quite masculine, though the brand describes them as subversions of traditional gender fragrance.
First love, second nature: "We were young and in love and I loved photographing her. When we did Obsession she was 18 and I was 20, just starting out in our lives with no pressure about anything." — @mario_sorrenti, on the iconic 1993 Obsession campaign. Pre-order the new OBSESSED for men + women at calvinklein.com. #CKOBSESSED
Traditional scents of a masculine fougère, such as white lavender, feature in the women’s fragrance, while the men’s scent is heavy with dark vanilla.
Both are designed to evoke naked skin, with musks adding a sensuous warmth to the women’s fragrance and amber and woods emphasising masculinity in the men’s.
Mario Sorrenti’s early photos of Kate Moss demonstrated to Calvin Klein — and the world — that the Italian photographer had “an obsession” with the model and Klein hired the pair to create his 1993 Obsession campaign.
In light of Moss’s 2015 account of how she was treated during the shoot, the images seem less than chic and Bill Clinton’s condemnation of those and similar CK images even more warranted, but it was her first major international exposure and the nineties are so hot right now. It really is no wonder the brand is re-using the famous images to promote Obsessive.
Like the feelings of the dental nurse seized by V-J Day in Time Square’s ebullient sailor, Moss’ internal life remains obscured by the cultural moment to most viewers. I think we could have enjoyed these new perfumes while leaving that particular “fashion moment” in the past.
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