September 3 2014

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1 posts tagged "Nicolas Ghesqui�re"

Nicolas The Nose: Ghesquière talks Fragrance, Fashion


It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that when Balenciaga unveiled Balenciaga Paris last year, the house’s first scent in almost 20 years, it was a huge deal. The violet-heavy floral chypre was an instant hit—partly because of the soft, woody scent itself, and partly because of its significance as Balenciaga creative director Nicolas Ghesquière’s first foray into beauty. It wasn’t something Ghesquière took lightly, either. “[Cristobal] Balenciaga closed the house in 1968 and he didn’t want it to exist anymore, but because of its fragrance licensing, the house stayed alive,” Ghesquière explains. “Eventually, they had to add a little bit of fashion for it to make sense. Fifteen years ago, when I arrived, they were doing a fashion show just because they had to entertain the fragrances. So in a way, I exist today and Balenciaga has grown again because its fragrance archive has traveled the time.” That archive just got a little bit bigger with the release of Ghesquière and perfumer Olivier Polge’s latest collaboration, Balenciaga L’Essence. A greener, slightly more masculine incarnation of the original, L’Essence focuses on violet leaves, rather than the violet flowers, for an earthy, more androgynous finish. It’s still inspired by women, though—one in particular: Charlotte Gainsbourg. “It’s her unique sense of style, the artistic choices that she makes, which are not always easy ones,” Ghesquière says of his muse, who is the face of both of his fragrances. Here, catches up with Ghesquière to talk perfume, his crusade to end “the manipulation of women” on the runway, and that rumored move to Soho.

You launched the critically acclaimed Balenciaga Paris fragrance last year—much to the delight of Balenciaga fans worldwide. Why mess with perfection?

It’s in the tradition of a fragrance house: Once you find a scent, you develop a stronger one in a very classic way. It may be a lighter interpretation with something more…not thematic, but stronger—or it might be to push one note and turn down some others. That was the idea with L’Essence. It’s the same family as Balenciaga Paris, clearly, but the character is pushed.

How exactly has the original’s character been pushed?

Well, it’s supposed to be stronger but it’s not actually that strong—it just has a different language. It’s all the same elements but we are saying something different than we were with Balenciaga Paris, which was so much about the violets. This one has a metallic side, it’s about the violet leaves so it’s slightly more masculine and androgynous, too. With the first fragrance, we had to say “we are back” and “this is Charlotte Gainsbourg”—introducing an inspiration, a friend, a muse. It was about getting everything out there in the same message, so it was a lot to say. But with L’Essence, we’re getting closer to the skin, to the character, to Charlotte herself. It is really about zooming in and focusing more on her personality. It’s not a lifestyle anymore. It’s a portrait of who Charlotte and the Balenciaga woman is.

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