Rose of No Man's Land, Byredo

An Olfactory Tribute to WWI Nurses

The Swedish perfumery Byredo has less to do with the whims of the fragrance market, or its trumped-up notions of fantasy, and more to do with the visceral quality of memories and ideas. For perfumer Ben Gorham, this is how it's been since launching the company ten years ago as an olfactory link to his native India. The unsolvable names of some of his scents are testament to this conceptual bent: Bibliothèque, Baudelaire, Inflorescence, and 1996, a collaboration with photographers Inez & Vinoodh.

But his latest eau de parfum may his most far-reaching yet, a centennial tribute to WWI nurses on the frontline, who soldiers called the 'roses of no man's land' for their compassionate bravery in the face of desolation. As such, Rose of No Man's Land, the fragrance, acts as a kind of soothing balm, a warming tonic — embodied in the Craig McDean-lensed ad campaign by model Freja Erichsen barely visible under a cascade of colorful letters. Notes of Turkish rose, pink peppercorn, white amber, raspberry blossom, and papyrus swirl together to form the scent's life-giving powers.

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Sep 02, 2015 12:41:00
Ala?a Paris

Finally, an Azzedine Ala?a Fragrance

Azzedine Ala?a was nowhere to be seen at the press presentation for his first fragrance, Ala?a Paris, held this week in the legendary Marais building where he resides and crafts his iconic, shapely dresses — not to mention where countless celebrities and models have famously wined and dined.

But the nose, Marie Salamagne, was surrounded by journalists extolling the juice in a manner recalling the rapturous editors in the opening scene of William Klein's ironic film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? For Salamagne, Ala?a Paris — made with Beaté Prestige — marks a milestone in her career, which also includes Kenzo’s now-defunct Tokyo scent.

She obviously enjoyed working the Ala?a way — long sessions ending with vodka and monthly meetings with the designer’s close collaborators, notably 10 Corso Como's Carla Sozzani and the photographer Paolo Roversi. "It was a lesson in creativity and excellence," she said at the presentation. "They are unfussy people, who say things very directly. And we laughed a lot. Mr. Ala?a loves teasing people."

Ala?a notoriously has a no-deadline mindset — he stages fashion shows as he sees fit, most of the time not at all — which was a bit hard to square with the rigid demands of the fragrance industry. But they finally wrapped the project in a year and a half, and the result is a rather conventionally feminine fragrance.

Ala?a was adamant that the scent exude a long–lasting freshness. Indeed, the starting point was childhood memories of his grandmother in Tunisia splashing water against scorching-hot walls. Salamagne tried to recreate the sensation by opening the eau de parfum (also available as a body lotion and shower gel) with pink pepper, before revealing peony and freesia heart notes, and ending with musk. The bottle, created by Martin Skezely, reproduces Ala?a’s signature cut-out pattern that first appeared on a belt in 1992, while the cap resembles a spool of golden thread.

Ala?a might be a father figure to the hallowed group of original supermodels of the early nineties, but they were a no-show in the advertising image, shot by Roversi. Instead, he brought back the wonderful Guinevere Van Seenus, an icon of the post-supermodel era.

Ala?a Paris eau de parfum, at the Azzedine Ala?a store in Paris starting June 2015, followed by select stores worldwide

May 25, 2015 13:34:00

Philip Treacy Blends Millinery and Make-Up

Philip Treacy is lending the transformational power of his extraordinary hats to a new make-up range for MAC Cosmetics.

Launching globally on April 11, the line contains three color palettes, each inspired by a particular Treacy hat. 'Metallic' is inspired by a silver Art Deco headpiece, 'colorful' by a feathered pink headpiece, and 'gothic' by a black-lace face mask. (The three hats are also available for purchase.) The resulting products include three lipsticks, two highlighter powders, two eyeshadows, three eyeliners, and a mascara, as well as two brushes.

MAC Philip Treacy, $16-$35, available at MAC stores and online

Apr 10, 2015 17:13:00

Like Everything Else, Alexander McQueen's Ideas of Beauty Were Not for the Faint of Heart

With a blockbuster as blockbuster-y as Savage Beauty at the V&A, it stands to reason there are going to be some satellite shows, too. Why not capitalize on the public's piqued interest in all things Alexander McQueen? First came Tate Britain's display of Nick Waplington's behind-the-scenes photos of the designer's penultimate collection. Now comes Warpaint, an exhibit focusing on McQueen's fantastical make-up concepts at the London College of Fashion. After all, the clown faces, runny mascara, bleached eyebrows, and geometric prosthetic cheekbones were just as planned-out as the outfits.

Curated by Polona Dolzan, the exhibit of 22 make-up looks aims to decipher McQueen's beauty inspirations, as realized by the make-up artists in McQueen's coterie, who included Peter Philips, Val Garland, Topolino, and Sharon Dowsett. In descending order of extremeness, the exhibit's themes are: Amplified, Deviated, and Stripped. And, as we're living in the Digital Age, the college has also tapped into the technological prowess of the creative studio Holition to develop an app that lets visitors try on a few looks.

Warpaint: Alexander McQueen and Make-Up, April 30 - August 7, 2015, LCA's Fashion Space Gallery, 20 John Princes Street, London

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Apr 02, 2015 16:19:00
Christian Houtenbos by Byredo

A Case for Hair Perfume

One of an elite group, Dutch hair stylist extraordinaire Christian Houtenbos has been making tonsorial statements for four decades. His most radical creations are Grace Jones' flat top and Debbie Harry's multi-hued mop, not to mention his countless editorials and campaigns. Sort of a neo-spiritualist, he's all about freeing the hair and even gives free haircuts in Central Park most summers.

Therefore, it's only fitting that he's come up with hair perfume, in collaboration with the Swedish scent label Byredo. The new collection is available in the three classic house fragrances — Blanche, Gypsy Water, Bal d'Afrique — to create an invisible shield around the hair fiber, leaving it nourished and subtly aromatic.

Around $43 at Colette

Mar 05, 2015 17:04:00
André Courrèges for Estee Lauder

André Courrèges' New Beauty Line Is Spacier than Ever

It's well within the realm of possibilities for a beauty range to presage a larger comeback. So it wouldn't be out of this world to imagine Estee Lauder's new cosmetics line with famed French designer André Courrèges — who made his name in the sixties with space-age mini-skirts, futuristic go-go boots, and the like — launching a full-scale revival of the brand.

The limited-edition collection consist of 13 pieces, ranging from lipsticks and lip glosses in Courrèges' signature coral color to white eyeliner and false eyelashes, the kind synonymous with sixties' mod. While Monsieur Courrèges and his wife Coqueline sold the house in 2011, they can still bear witness to the next generation of space chic.

In March 2015, available at Selfridges in London, Colette in Paris and 10 Corso Como in Milan 

Dec 14, 2014 22:26:00
Build and Destroy

The Contrary Nature of a New Scent, Build and Destroy

James Lavelle, London musician and co-founder of the record labels Mo’ Wax and UNKLE, has his hands full with another unexpected venture, this time in the olfactory zone. He's collaborated with the award-winning perfumer Azzi Glasser (Kylie Minogue, Bella Freud, Agent Provocateur, Johnny Depp) to create Build and Destroy. The musky eau de parfum — derived from frankincense and pimento — and cigarette-style box take after Lavelle's own vices and idiosyncrasies, a conceptual and contrary blend of post-punk electronica and street art, among other elements of self-defeatist youth culture.

300 limited-edition bottles, available at Saatchi Gallery, London (as part of a new Mo' Wax exhibit), and online at Goodhood Store (starting November 27) 

Nov 17, 2014 15:18:00
Moschino Toy eau de toilette

Jeremy Scott Can't Stop, Won't Stop Toying Around at Moschino

You knew Jeremy Scott would create something impossibly ghoulish or impossibly adorable for his first Moschino fragrance. Which way did he go? Impossibly adorable, creating a smiling teddy bear as the bottle for the eau de toilette, which is called, simply, Toy. However, the bear's shirt makes clear, with Dada-like deadpan, that he is not just a toy.

The furry flacon is an homage to the teddy-bear dress that the house's founder, Franco Moschino, designed in the eighties, and Scott’s own infatuation with the stuffed animal. It also recalls the child-like costumes of Scott's friend Miley Cyrus. The designer says the scent is a mix of woody and techno — just the thing to go with your gold-chained Happy Meal bag.

The ad campaign was shot by Steven Meisel and shows Brazilian bombshell Isabeli Fontana goofing around in a teddy-bear dress that Scott designed as an homage to the one Moschino designed in 1988.

Moschino Toy, $110 at Moschino stores, Harrods in London, and online

Nov 14, 2014 23:23:00
Joya Foxglove

A New Concept Scent that Actually Smells Great

Named after an odorless — and some think poisonous — flower once common across New York City (and still blooms at Central Park’s Conservancy Garden) comes a new scent from Joya, the unorthodox Brooklyn perfumery. Or 'fragrance design studio,' as they prefer to be called.

The fragrance, Foxglove, is Joya's fourth and most daring to date, a reimagining of and homage to old New York. Specifically, the perfume oil takes its cues from the Romantic Movement of the early 19th century, a time that saw the creation of America’s grandest parks as sanctuary from the Industrial Revolution and its noxious, mass-produced ways. “We sourced beautiful and extremely rare naturals and specialty raw materials," says Joya's founder Frederick Bouchardy, "to give the fragrance a real sensation of bursting stems, stamens, and leaves.” The notes in the resulting juice are a mix of salt meadow grass, hyacinth leaves, oak, cedar, and camellia.

Foxglove is sold exclusively on Net-a-Porter, a contrary situation that presents the sort of conceptual dilemma Joya seems to revels in — a fragrance based on a non-odor and sold without possibility of testing. The artful packaging, however, should help ease with the leap of faith. The full-sized version comes in a forest-green porcelain pot, custom-stained and slip-cast at the Joya studio, with an applicator wand that's been dipped in 22-karat gold. The travel size is also nicely considered with its acid-etched green glass, while the bar soap is saponified and drill-pressed by hand.

$112 (full size, 75 ml), $28 (travel size, 10 ml), $14 (bar soap) at Net-a-Porter

Nov 13, 2014 15:31:00

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