Eau De L’Wren Scott
L’Wren Scott’s stock went up this October when it was rumored that the leggy stylist-turned-designer would be making Angelina Jolie’s wedding dress for her highly anticipated nuptials to Brad Pitt. Not that she needed the press; the former Chanel and Mugler model who also happens to be Mick Jagger’s longtime girlfriend has cornered the market on strict tailoring and impossibly feminine silhouettes, which are frequently worn by Nicole Kidman and even MObama, who recently stepped out to cast her presidential ballot in one of Scott’s embellished cardigans. Now Scott has expansion on the brain. After presenting her first eyewear collection for Spring, the 6’3″ style icon with the porcelain skin and long raven locks will debut her first signature scent tomorrow. The premier offering in the Barneys New York Designer Fragrance Collection, Scott’s perfume is a spicy chypre with surprising absinthe, star anise, coriander, and mandarin top notes that segue into a sensual tuberose and jasmine heart with a patchouli and leather dry-down. “I wanted it to have a slightly spicy feel but not in the literal sense,” Scott is quick to point out, revealing just a small window into her impressive perfume know-how, which has its roots in an exotic essential oil collection that spans the globe. “I was completely involved in the whole thing—beginning to end,” she continues of the formulation process with perfumer Ralf Schwieger (he of Atelier Cologne, Etat Libre d’Orange, Frédéric Malle, and Hermès fame), who she hand-picked to help give her scent an individuality that is apparent from the moment you smell it. Which is to say, this is not your average, mass-market designer fragrance but an actual extension of L’Wren’s personal sensibility. “It’s just what I like,” she says unapologetically. Here, Scott talks about what it was like to create a fragrance as opposed to a garment, why the two really aren’t that different, and what’s to come. “This is just the beginning,” she says of her beauty ambitions.—Celia Ellenberg
Has a fragrance always been part of the grand plan with your brand?
Yeah. I’ve always been obsessed with scents and [Barneys COO and senior executive VP] Daniella Vitale and I kept talking about how one of the next things I wanted to do with my brand was a perfume. That was a few years ago. And then we started a conversation: I said this was the nose I wanted to use, they said this is the company they wanted to use, I said I wanted it to be made in France. It was collaborative.
As a perfume obsessive, are there certain notes that you find yourself gravitating toward?
Well, I’ve always made my own [perfumes], really, mixing a bunch of oils I’d find around the world. I’ve always known pretty precisely what I wanted [with my own scent], too: something quite mysterious and sexy and dark that wasn’t hyper-feminine or hyper-masculine. I think I’ve had just as many men try this one on as women, actually, and they love it just as much.
Was that intentional, to do something relatively unisex?
I didn’t set out to do something that was based for men or women—it’s just what I like. What I really like about it is that it’s in the chypre family, which is one of the oldest fragrance families. Part of the important thing to me again was that it was made in France. They use different kinds of alcohols, which really affect the end of the fragrance.
Why did you gravitate toward Ralf as your preferred nose?
I like his sensibility. His work always has something that is quite special and unique about it. In my first meeting, I actually had everyone in the same room—including the packaging people—and they said, “This is the first time we’ve ever all been called into a meeting together!” It was so funny; I just told everyone exactly what I wanted, which I thought was a normal thing to do because that’s how I work, much to Ralf’s shock and surprise. I was sending him little things from around the world and marking them. Then, when I started working directly with him, I would bring him my raw materials, he would bring me his, I’d say, “This is from that part of the world, this is from this part of the world.” I’m sure he thought, shouldn’t I be doing this?!
What would you say are the most interesting or unique parts of the fragrance’s composition?
In the top notes, the absinthe is quite interesting. It’s one of the first things that attracts you to it. And then in the dry-down you get a little bit of leather and patchouli and moss. It’s the subtlety of it. It’s got a bit of power behind it, but it’s not overpowering. When someone comes close to you, you just get a smell. I don’t like those perfumes that wear you. I hate that.
How does creating a fragrance relate to or differ from creating a garment?
It is very similar because you’re still constructing. You have to know what your key ingredients are and what the end result will be. It’s a similar feeling—when you first put it on and how it evolves. It just depends how precise you are and there are no maybes with me.
Haha. It’s good to be decisive. Were you similarly clearheaded about the bottle design?
I knew I wanted my perfume bottle to be a color because I never really like the look of brown perfume in a clear bottle. So I knew I wanted the bottle to be bordeaux.
And the size! It’s just about TSA-approved, I think.
When I first saw it, I kept thinking, it’s really big. Then I thought, well, that’s because it was a really big dream of yours! You get a lot for your money—100 ml!
When getting dressed, or dressing a client in one of your pieces, do you recommend spritzing on scents before or after getting dressed?
I get dressed and then I spray it on my clothes—and on my hair. If I put it anywhere on my body, I put it on the front of my hands because it’s a nice place to smell it. I never spray it on my wrists.
Speaking of your hair, how do you keep it both so long and so healthy?
I wash it once a week, to start. I have really dry hair so I use Serge Normant shampoo and conditioner and then if it ever gets too dirty, I use some of his Dry Shampoo. I actually have to beg him to cut my hair. One day I was sitting in front of him and I just took a pair of fabric scissors to it!
How often do you color?
I’ve had gray streaks since I was 20 and I was kind of digging it when I was 25, but I thought being 6’3″…maybe that shouldn’t be your look. My hair grows so fast so now I color whenever those grays show up. But beauty maintenance really evolves around my work schedule.
Any plans to bring additional beauty elements into the world of L’Wren Scott?
Of course! This is just the beginning stages of what we plan to be doing in the future. If you’re a woman and you love makeup and perfume and color, [beauty] is a natural progression into your line because you are creating an overall brand and this is a nice way to have a new kind of customer.
$195, available December 11 at Barney New York.
Photo: Courtesy of Barneys