By Ashley Kowalewski Unless you don’t have cable, any social-media…
Lady Gaga follows in the tradition of a long line of perfume provocateurs—Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein—with the launch this September of her much anticipated fragrance, Fame.
As we glimpse her, lounging odalisque-style against an inky jet backdrop in her latest ad with tiny toy-sized men climbing atop her at strategic locations, we are reminded of the shock that has long been as much a part of selling perfume as pitching the specifics of the scent itself.
It began more than a year ago for Gaga when the entertainer inked a deal with Coty.
FAME: THE SCENT
To fuel early scent speculation, Gaga opined that her perfume would contain blood (her own) and semen; that it would smell like an expensive prostitute.
In the end, Lady Gaga’s Fame does not contain bodily fluid accords. It does try to break the mold though as the first black fragrance—it turns clear when airborne—and also contains an accord inspired by Belladonna, the infamous nightshade flower which was reportedly used as an opiate in the 18th century and has been associated with haunted beauties from the that era as well.
Gaga also breaks with tradition in choosing a non-pyramidal structure to her rich floral-oriental fragrance. Instead of a typical top-note, heart-note, base-note hierarchy, Fame relies on a “push-pull technology,” where ingredients combine harmoniously and simultaneously: Notes interact and emphasize the olfactive character of each. The Belladonna accord and incense mingle with apricot, saffron, honey, tiger orchid and jasmine sambac to create a scent that has a certain dark-cauldron sexiness about it: a black essence that balances the cloying sweetness of honey and dripping-ripe fruit with dramatic but dry orchid and jasmine.
The Lady Gaga Fame bottle also lies perfectly in sync with the star’s “monster” brand DNA. Inspired by classic form, the flask—a design created in collaboration with nick Knight—is given a jolie laide twist with a glossy gold, claw-like cap. The packaging reinforces the Fame metaphor of the perfume itself, “A beautiful prospect with a dark heart,” is how Gaga herself defines the juice.
In a marketing arena dominated by nudity—what designer or star doesn’t use it?—it’s tough to shock. The Lady Gaga Fame visuals, photographed by Steven Klein, do however provoke: the surreal black-and-white composition of a reclining and masked Gaga with tiny action figures mounting her breasts, her thighs, her feet is unsettling and beautiful at the same time.
Gaga sucks us in. We stare; rendered the voyeur once again.
—By Deborah Fulsang
Lady Gaga Fame EDP Ultimate Masterpiece, $89 (100 ml), $59 (50 ml), coty.com, shoppersdrugmart.ca, Sephora.ca, thebay.ca
PHOTO: STEVEN KLEIN. THE FIRST EVER BLACK EAU DE PARFUM. MODEL: LADY GAGA