Before designer collaborations became the new black, Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas were the original It-couple, forming Y-3 ten years ago. The two fashion forces feted their lasting partnership during the Paris men’s collections with the launch of their first men’s fragrance, Black Label, at the opulent Le Theater Saint Germain.
The champagne-swilling crowd, clad in both the renegade edge of Yamamoto and the sportier ease of Adidas, relished in the dark new scent. The spicy fragrance embodies a bold mix of patchouli, vetiver, tonka bean, cardamom, cedar wood, and black pepper.
“Ten years ago we created something that did not exist before, and we completely projected the future,” says Yamamoto. “Making perfume is a huge difference from designing clothes. It involves so many people and advices. But in the end both have to seduce the senses.”
$95 for 75ml (beginning in February) in Y-3 stores and Y-3 online
Northwest labels can be so pine-freshly provincial. Here's how the Seattle-based concept shop Blackbird describes its new fragrance, made in collabs with the perfumery House of Matriarch, also in Seattle: "Running from the police through dark summer woods, you catch whiffs of evergreens cloaked by layers of warm crushed berries. Riding a ferry, the peaceful salt water and bobbing seaweed are contrasted by the roar of industrial diesel engines."
In all, the witches' brew of a scent contains over 100 exotic aromatics, including Northwest conifers, Puget Sound seaweed, rare oud and amber, to name just a few, mixing together in a potion so dark green it's almost black.
When you own something as precious as a flacon of Arpège, the scent Jeanne Lanvin had created for her daughter's 30th birthday in 1927, you want to lug it around with you wherever you go. Clearly, the parfumeurs at Lanvin are attentive to their clients' needs because the house has come out with a minaudière case in polished black enamel with a luxe leather lining and gold-chain handle. Excessive? A little, but nothing is too good for one of the world's great fragrances.
$3,610 in Lanvin boutiques (from February) and Bergdorf Goodman
Last night Mick Jagger rolled into town, rocking a Top Ten reading on Letterman and performing +1 duties at a fragrance launch for his main squeeze, L'Wren Scott, at the Carlyle. With bandmates Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts in attendance, the intimate affair may have felt more like a jam session for the gamin-cum-grandfather, but better dressed. Also allowed to be in the same room were Daphne Guinness, Andre Leon Talley, and Rachel Feinstein, all of whom we'd expect to appreciate the scent, with its spicy notes of absinthe, anise, coriander, musk, and Brazilian patchouli. Jagger already has a place to test-drive the eau de parfum, onstage at the 12-12-12 benefit concert tonight at Madison Square Garden.
$195 (3.4 oz) at Barneys New York
Combining luxury and science, and possibly witchcraft, Givenchy's anti-aging black serum that caused a commotion when it debuted in 2008 is back. And this time the black beauty is joined by two new products: a fine Calais lace mask and a lotion. Each mask contains an 18 ml dose of the black algae-infused cream, gratefully absorbed by weathered or just-jaded skin. This is the stuff of mirror-gazing wicked witches and masquerade-going former Vogue editors. It's couture skincare if ever there were.
€300 for a box of four at Givenchy boutiques
With all the talk (and parodies) surrounding Chanel's choice of Brad Pitt to be its latest N°5 spokesperson, it should be noted that that's precisely the kind of marketing that will be excluded from a small but groundbreaking exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design.
The Art of Scent 1889-2012, touted as the first major museum exhibition to recognize scent as an artistic medium, is a perfume purist's delight. Curated by the noted nose Chandler Burr, the show examines twelve landmark olfactory works made between 1889 and 2012, for example Jicky (1889), Chanel N°5 (1921), Osmanthe Yunnan (2006), and Daniela Andrier’s Untitled (2010). Each of the twelve fragrances has been stripped of its original packaging, advertising and even flacons, existing solely as an atomized mist spritzed from a gallery wall.
The idea is to educate museum-goers on the artistic merits of fragrance, but at the very least, they can theoretically douse themselves with an expensive juice before a big date. Please no bogarting the scent.
The Art of Scent 1889-2012, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), 2 Columbus Circle, NYC, November 13, 2012 - February 24, 2013
It took a while, but Marni is finally getting in the fragrance game. The first, self-titled scent is a mix of spicy and woody notes, as you might expect from the unconventional Italian label, finished with a dash of rose oil.
The flacon, splashed all over with designer Consuelo Castiglioni's signature polka dots, is inspired by a vintage perfume bottle she found at a flea market. The smaller purse-spray version comes with a small doll, reminding you that if it's quirky, it's Marni.
Available at Saks Fifth Avenue in February 2013
Fresh from celebrating its 140th anniversary, Shiseido has launched Lacquer Rouge lipsticks—a slight misnomer since they're equal part gloss. Taking their cues from the sheen and resilience of traditional Japanese lacquer art, eight range-of-red shades stay put and stay shiny. Plus, for the month of October—which of course you know is Breast Cancer Awareness Month—the brand will donate $5 from every $25 purchase of the pink shade of the lipstick, called Disco, to CEW's Cancer and Careers Foundation.
Speaking of, Estee Lauder has been fighting breast cancer for twenty years—Evelyn Lauder was a co-creator of the pink ribbon—and continues to do so with 20 Years of Courage. The Facebook app features survivors and their admirers from around the world, who share their personal stories and milestones. For every milestone added to the app, Estee Lauder will donate $1 (up to $25,000) to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
When news spread that Brad Pitt would be the new face of Chanel N°5, thus becoming the first man ever to hawk a women's fragrance, our imagination ran amok. How far would the deep-pocketed house go, given a history that includes a Moulin Rouge set with Nicole Kidman and an Orient Express set with Audrey Tautou? Not to mention Karl Lagerfeld's extravagant shows at the Grand Palais, for which he's imported a real iceberg and, for spring 2013, enormous wind turbines.
The commercial was disseminated online today, sparking bewilderment of a different kind. No elaborate set design, hordes of extras, or escapist imagery. Just black-and-white, no-frills footage of Pitt in a nondescript shirt, throatily reciting profundities about the world and a relationship with either the fragrance or a woman. The commercial is so terse and without glamour (his goatee and long hair appear ungroomed), and he looks so detached at times, that it seems like a teaser.
But the mindset behind the project is interesting, especially since it challenges the kind of fantasy hokum that marketing wizards routinely drum up to sell women's fragrances. But Chanel N°5 as a remedy for our troubled times? Maybe there is a clue at the end, where Pitt utters, "Wherever I go, there you are. My luck, my fate, my fortune." As the iconic square bottle appears, he adds, "Chanel N°5. Inevitable."
The commercial, created by Joe Wright and Sam Taylor-Wood, is the first installment in a series of shorts that will be revealed later. The print images, shot by Steven Klein, a longtime Brad Pitt collaborator, will roll out in a massive global campaign this fall.