As the former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue, Carine Roitfeld traveled the world. Now she’s bottling up homages to her favorite cities.
The renowned fashion icon is pivoting to the US$40 billion business of perfume, with a line of seven genderless fragrances eight years in the making. Each bottle is inspired by seven fictional love affairs she dreamt up, spanning across the world in Dubai, Paris, London, New York, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong, and Buenos Aires. The challenge, Roitfeld says, was translating each scent into a sensory experience.
“It’s a fantasy, just like my fashion shoots,” Roitfeld, 64, told Penta of her namesake collection Carine Roitfeld Parfums, out next Monday. “It’s always about the story. I used the same creative process for my perfumes. Each is like a love letter.”
Some of the perfumes are named after real people she admires, and the cities represented in the 90-milliliter bottles are palpable. For Lawrence, named for Lawrence of Arabia, you can smell the jasmine flowers and saffron reminiscent of the spice souk in Dubai. Kar-Wai, is a floral fragrance made with smoky Longjing green tea inspired by Hong Kong. It’s named after the Chinese filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, who directed the movie Mood For Love.
She named Sebastian after Sebastian Faena, her friend and photographer who shot her campaign. The scent is a homage to Buenos Aires, where Faena is from, and an ode to Roitfeld’s affection for dance. She chose sensual ingredients like sandalwood with notes of tuberose, a plant that smells like orange blossoms and white lilies. “It’s like the tango,” Roitfeld describes. Her London scent, George, named for English novelist George Orwell, smells like Kensington Gardens with violet leaf, fresh cut cucumber, lichen and a hint of cannabis.
The former model and editor, who went on to start her own glossy, CR Magazine, after a decade at Vogue, has worked with the likes of the late Karl Lagerfeld, fashion photographer Mario Testino, and designer Tom Ford.
She’s no stranger to pushing the boundaries, often relying on sexuality and shock factor in campaigns she’s worked on for Gucci. So to promote her own perfumes, she applied the same tactics. She teased her perfume launch during Paris Fashion Week with thousands of ads of herself completely naked giving a peace sign, while staring out a window.
Roitfeld is opening a pop-up store in SoHo in New York City from May 5-12 for those who want to experience the collection early. The perfumes will retail for US$285.