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Viktor & Rolf Take You to the Candy Shop

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bonbon-cropAt their couture comeback in January, Viktor & Rolf wrapped up the show with a surprise reveal of their spring fragrance launch. Above the catwalk appeared a supersized image of model Edita Vilkeviciute, shot by Inez & Vinoodh, wearing nothing but body paint, holding a bow-shaped bottle of Bonbon. “We liked that her skin was becoming clothing in a way,” said Viktor Horsting. “She’s nude but she’s not. She’s dressed in paint. Her skin becomes like a garment. It was a [conceptual] way of saying that perfume could be worn like a garment.” The body art alone took about twelve hours to apply. The couture collection likewise had blurred the lines between skin and clothes, with tattoo-like embellishments such as ruffles and bows hand-painted over flesh-tone latex dresses.

For their latest fragrance, V&R began with an icon from their own lexicon: the bow. “The thing is, a bow doesn’t smell,” noted Rolf Snoeren. “So we started thinking of candy wrappers and bonbons, because they are like bows. And they smell [good].”

To hit the right note, they began by literally raiding candy stores. Working alongside perfumers Serge Majoullier and Cécile Matton, the design duo brought every kind of candy they could get their hands on into the L’Oréal Paris headquarters. “That was a fun exercise. We tested chocolates, caramels—all kinds of sweets. But we immediately became addicted to a specific caramel note. The buttery note of caramel was very sexy,” said Snoeren. “Sweet but also sexy. Grown-up.”

Once Viktor & Rolf zeroed in on their “couture” accord, Matton and Majoullier spun the original idea of candy into an olfactory ode to pleasure. “There are so many directions you could go,” observed Horsting. “We wanted something luxurious. The name might suggest girliness, but it had to be grown-up. It’s not a game of seduction. The attitude is more about being at ease, about self-indulgence and empowerment.”

Although the fragrance at first seems nearly edible, it is anything but facile. “It was important to not just create caramel-à-porter,” explained Matton. “We took the gourmandise aspect to the extreme.” Adds Majoullier, “The tricky thing about caramel is that you have to dress it up without concealing it.”

The perfumers went about addressing the challenge by declining to use patchouli, for one thing. Said Matton, “We were inspired by variations in texture. The caramel changes as the perfume evolves: It’s crackly on top, creamier at the heart, and more concentrated at the base. There’s a clothes-like structure—it’s a representation.”

Ultimately, the Bonbon caramel ventured into a more woody, sensual terrain, rounded out by a sprinkling of fruity notes to break up its richness. The fragrance opens with sparkling notes of mandarin and “Paradise peach,” warming into a sunny jasmine and orange blossom heart before settling into a gently overcooked woody amber base with notes of gaic and cedar.

“Bonbon is not for any one woman,” offered Horsting. “[It’s the same with] Flowerbomb, which had such fantastic reach. We don’t want to create limits.”

$165; saks.com

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To meet Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (and spritz Bonbon) in person, head to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City on April 17 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Critic’s Choice: Luca Turin’s Perfume Pick

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To spritz or not to spritz, that is the question. Style.com/Arabia critic and perfume industry legend Luca Turin reviews the latest fragrance launches and answers this age-old question.

Name: Guerlain L’Eau du Parfum 68
Notes: Mandarin, rose, benzoin
Nomenclature: Nostalgic oriental

“If, as I firmly believe, smell is a sort of timbre, then it can be said that Guerlain is—thank goodness—bucking a mighty trend by insisting on making perfumes played on real instruments as opposed to ringtones, door chimes, and electronic jingles. Indeed, there is an element of desperate, nostalgic conservatism about 68, as befits the twilight of an era. The first five minutes of 68 are a strange medley, recapitulating a century of great tunes. L’Heure Bleue is there and Shalimar, of course, but also some of the competition: the green glow of Worth’s Je Reviens and, oddly enough, a surprising quotation of Lush’s Dirty. Halfway into the drydown suddenly comes a strange twist: 68 abruptly turns into a luxuriously plush version of one of those dreadful, bare-bones masculines that come with cheap leather bomber jackets and a clapped-out BMW. It is as if Guerlain’s Russian prince now made a living as many real ones did—as a Paris taxi driver. The drydown carries on essentially until your next shower, in a soft, balsamic-salicylate accord which does not even need to be original: The mere fact that it is there and smells good is more than enough. Guerlain’s revenge on shallow, front-loaded, chemical perfumery is complete and, for once, served warm.”

$250; available at Bergdorf Goodman and select Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales locations

For another review from Turin’s bi-monthly column, click here.

An Affordable Designer Escape for the Senses

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Cinco de Mayo is still a few weeks away, but we’re getting lit a little early with Olas, a scented candle crafted by Dezso jewelry designer Sara Beltrán and florist extraordinaire Sandra de Ovando. Both halves of this duo hail from Mexico, their heritage naturally influencing the eau composed of coconut, labdanum, violet, leather, vetiver, sandalwood, and oakmoss notes. Beltrán’s baubles—often adorned with gold shark teeth and shells—are inspired by the ocean, so it’s no wonder that this fragrance takes inspiration from her childhood spent on the beach. In addition to filling your seaside (or city) abode with the aroma of crashing waves and drinks at sunset, this black jar comes wrapped with one of Beltrán’s signature woven bracelets—the ideal accessory for the margarita-filled holiday and beyond.

$75; ovandonyc.com

So Much Better Than a Mother’s Day Bouquet: Rodin’s Newest Scent

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Skincare oil maven Linda Rodin proved her fragrance chops back in 2012, when she released Rodin Olio Lusso, a heady, jasmine-laden number created alongside Brooklyn favorites D.S. & Durga. Now the silver-haired style star (who recently posed for The Row’s Pre-Fall lookbook) aims to do it again with a second scent, Bis. An homage to Rodin’s mother, it’s a blend of another era, and shares plenty of DNA with classic, “big” floral perfumes of the mid-20th century. Bis is unapologetically feminine but decidedly comforting and unfussy—a pared-back answer to its predecessors. Sparkling bergamot and lemon top notes give way to a slightly powdery, delicate heart of orris, jasmine, rose de mai, and green violets, before dissolving into a sheer, cashmere-like base of ambergris, white musk, and creamy tonka. While Rodin may have had Mom in mind, I was hard-pressed not to think of Grace Kelly (cliché though it may be), recumbent on some exotic shore. And that’s no sophomore slump.

Available in May, Rodin Bis, $290;
oliolusso.com

Roll With It: The Scent You’ll Want to Take Everywhere

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If there is one perfume I could bathe in (which I often do thanks to the bar soap and body wash) it’s Byredo’s Gypsy Water. Despite my best attempts to coat myself in the scent, it typically wanes by mid-afternoon—hence the reason I keep the recently released oil iteration close at hand (in my handbag, on my desktop, etc.). Not only does this alcohol-free blend have a longer lifespan than a traditional toilette when applied to pulse points, but the potent form allows you to use less and still achieve the same intensity as a generous spritz (or three). Along with my go-to eau, Bal D’Afrique, Bullion, La Tulipe, Rose Noir, Blanche, and Oud Immortel are available in rollerball form. And while $78 might sound a bit steep for a travel-sized vial, I promise the olfactory effects are anything but short-lived.

Available at byredo.com