The Good, The Bad, and the Irresistible in Carolina Herrera’s new perfume

The Good, The Bad, and the Irresistible in Carolina Herrera’s new perfume

Good and bad, naughty and nice. It’s the duality that makes a woman interesting, believes Carolina Herrera. It’s also what’s making her new perfume, Good Girl, a runaway success.

It’s been almost 20 years since Carolina Herrera launched a perfume in a big big way, but with the arrival of Good Girl, the 38-year-old brand—and its always-elegant designer—changes all that.

The scent, the 22nd in the company’s fragrance history, comes in a provocative, stiletto-heeled shoe-shaped bottle, is breaking records. It’s estimated, in fact, that the new perfume will bring home $200M (US$) in its debut year, bringing Herrera’s scent business (which includes Carolina Herrera Tuberose, CH Men, 212) to annual sales of $800M, according to recent reports from industry journal Women’s Wear Daily.

The numbers are even more significant for the brand at this is a time of growth and change. Earlier this month, the 79-year-old Carolina Herrera herself took a bow at her final runway show in New York, and officially passed the design torch to designer Wes Gordon, who is tasked at making Herrera’s ball gown-loving label more and more relevant to a millennial customer.

Karlie Kloss in a behind-the-scenes shot from Carolina Herrera’s new Good Girl fragrance campaign by Mario Testino. In the perfume commercial, Kloss struts through Manhattan at dusk to the soundtrack of Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” wearing a long, black sequinned, side-slit Herrera sheath—and stilettos, of course.

Next-Gen Style and Scent

Like those runway fashions, Herrera’s daughter, Carolina Herrera de Baez, Creative Director of the House of Herrera Fragrances, targets Good Girl directly at the style-minded 20 and 30somethings of today.

With the perfume’s cocoa, tonka bean, almond, coffee, jasmine and tuberose notes, the fourth scent in the Carolina Herrera New York lineup is thoroughly likeable—rich but with crispness and sparkle at the first encounter. The drydown is more the “bad girl,” warm and sultry.

Good Girl perfumer, Louise Turner, says the perfume itself is an expression of the duality at the core of Herrera’s aesthetic and mindset.

Perfumer Louise Turner’s perfume-ograpy includes Lazy Sunday Morning for Maison Martin Margiela, Glow for JLo, Love for Chloé and Fahrenheit 32 for Dior.

“The whole idea of duality between white and black is very important,” she says. “For the ‘white’ part, you are going to first smell this sort of almond essence—that’s quite a volatile part, and the coffee… You can also smell jasmine and tonka. Tonka and cocoa are the ‘dark’ ingredients.”

Then comes the Tuberose, says the perfumer, which, she says, is not the traditional Tuberose, but something, she insists is more modern and innovative.

“It is, as I love to say, my ‘wild card’ in the fragrance.”

A high-heeled shoe-shaped bottle: tacky or tasteful?

Perfume aside, I’m on the fence about Good Girl’s high heel-shaped bottle. It seems a bit gimmicky to me, but it is admittedly very well done: sleek and sculptural, all inky navy blue glass with a fluted gold spiked heel. Innovative: yes. Unexpected: Absolutely.

Clearly, sales are suggesting that the packaging is walking a perfect line between the two worlds.

It also doesn’t hurt that superstar model Karlie Kloss is the face of the perfume. Her sassy and coy quip of the fragrance’s tagline in the campaign, “It’s So Good to Be Bad,” is likewise expertly pitched, especially when wrapped up with Kloss in a black-tie long-sleeved, body-hugging sheath cut way up to here.

So, I’m test-driving Good Girl, living in it while wearing it out to lunch and also when I’m running around on the weekend. I want to get a feel for how it lives on the skin, whether I’m wearing head-to-toe black, a white shirt and jeans, or coming straight from the shower.

I spritz.

“Ooooh, that smells good,” says my fashion and makeup-loving teenaged daughter, as I walk into her room. “I really like that.” (She is well accustomed to my random spritzing of perfume at all hours of the day, and is, btw, my ever-accurate barometer for emerging youth-loving trends.)

“I mean I really like that. Can I have it?”

Carolina Herrera Good Girl EDP, $115 (50 ml)/$148 (80 ml); Leg Elizir, $65 (200 ml); Shower Gel, $40 (200 ml); and Body Cream $65 (200 ml), at Hudson’s Bay and Shoppers Drug Mart;

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Deborah Fulsang has spent the last two decades as a journalist covering news and trends in the worlds of style—in fashion and beauty, design and décor, food and entertaining. Her long-held love of fragrance led her to launch The Whale & The Rose, a destination for all things perfume-related. Now, when she indulges in a crazy-expensive bottle of fragrance, she can do so guilt-free. Well almost. It’s all in the name of research after all.