By Danielle DesRosiers Vetiver: From Coco Chanel and Geoffrey Beene…
New Alaïa Paris perfume strives to embody Beauty with a capital B.
The new Alaïa Paris perfume is prettier than I was expecting. This from the man who dressed Grace Jones and the supermodels of the ’90s in bandage dresses. On first hearing that Tunisian-born fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa was launching a perfume, we imagined something intense, unexpected and even a tad weird; weird but good, of course. But this perfume is more super-femme floral than fierce.
Azzadine Alaïa’s creative brief for this perfume was wonderful: “The smell of cold water falling on hot chalk.” Our imagination goes wild.
It was the young perfumer Marie Salamagne from Firmenich who won the task of bringing this concept to life. Her eau de parfum creation, crafted under the guidance of Alaia and his host of cherry-picked advisors including longtime friend and ex-fashion editor gallery-owner Carla Sozzani, includes top notes of an air/aquatic accord and pink pepper; alongside freesia and peony, plus animal notes and musk.
The bottom line: The genesis of this eau de parfum centres on Alaïa’s rigorous artistic pursuit of ideal Beauty, a pursuit at the root of his goddess-like sculptural dresses. And an A-list of creators deliver this spritz to us—Alaïa of course; the legendary photographer Paolo Roversi behind the camera; the artist hairstylist Julien d’Ys on set of the commercial and video; and the designer Martin Szekely, who conceived of the perfume’s striking black glass bottle as an homage to Alaia’s craftsmanship—the flask’s pattern echoes a laser-cut Alaia corset of the 1990s.
Once I delve past the wonderfully artistic and academic story behind this perfume and consider this EDP on a real-life, “is it wearable?” basis, I am underwhelmed. I don’t smell anything of the “cold water on hot chalk” thing. Wish I did. But it’s pretty. Then again, if you love a timeless floral perfume and appreciate a beautiful perfume bottle, this might be your new favourite.
The rating: ★★/★★★★★
Alaïa Paris EDP, $150 (100 ml)/ $120 (50 ml), at Holt Renfrew
PHOTO: Azzedine Alaia’s magenta-hued bandage dress, worn back in 1985 by Grace Jones, on display in Rome at the exhibition Couture/Sculpture (Until October 25), along with a bottle of the new Alaia perfume. Gallery photo by Suzy Menkes/Instagam.
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