People often ask me what it means to be the creative director of Eris Parfums and what it’s like to work with perfumer Antoine Lie. The process isn’t linear, and sometimes it’s messy, but it always involves my communicating one or more of the following with Antoine, to give him a fragrance direction:
Possible perfume names
Ingredients / notes that I like that could work for the perfume idea I have
Perfumes in the category that I like, both vintage and contemporary
Notes on what effect /emotion I hope the perfume induces in the wearer
And last but not least, the subject of today’s blog: mood boards. Mood boards are collages of images that convey the idea, sensibility, emotion, and well, the mood of a particular creative project. Because I think perfume is cinematic, with its own version of a movie’s mise en scène, characters, aesthetic / sensibility and narrative, mood boards can be a particularly satisfying part of the right-brained brainstorming process. I really want every perfume to tell a story that creates an emotional atmosphere, and here are some of the images I provided to Antoine that informed his compositions for Belle de Jour, Night Flower, Ma Bête, Mx., and subsequently, Mxxx.
BELLE DE JOUR
Part of ERIS’s first trio, La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), Belle de Jour’s olfactive story was similar to the eponymous movie’s heroine in the 1967 Luis Buñuel film. A beautiful bourgeois woman clad in YSL and Pierre Cardin walks on the wild side, so the perfume makes a similar arc from conventionally beautiful, remote, formal to undone, skin-like, intimate, wild. Think, the iridescence of a shell, shimmering between an intense floral, scents of the sea, skin, saltiness, and heat…
Night Flower: Another fragrance in the La Belle et la Bête trio, juxtaposing florals with animalic notes: A favorite of Dita Von Teese, and a fragrance Michael Edwards (Fragrances of the World) has described as “a tiger breathing white flowers.” Night Flower asks you to think of that precipitous feeling right as you begin to fall in love — it feels scary, dangerous, amazing, physical — like plunging down on a roller coaster ride. Night Flower is about a sultry, undone beauty and elegance. Kate Moss at 3 am stumbling home in an exquisite mix of vintage and contemporary couture, hair slightly mussed, lipstick imperfect, smoky eyes, redolent with the smell of cigarette smoke and scotch and a gorgeous floral perfume mixing up with her musky skin. The name also refers to the biography of Vali Myers, Australian artist, demimondaine whose life after 40 was lived off the grid, on the side of a cliff in the Amalfi Coast with foxes, wild animals, and a 19-year-old poet lover…Here you see vintage perfume ads, a photo by Sally Mann, another by NYC demimonde photographer Nan Goldin, post modern retro queens Lana Del Rey and Chloe Sevigny.
Overdosed with Antoine Lie’s specially-created animalic cocktail (he talks about it here), Ma Bête is the linchpin of La Belle et la Bête/ Beauty and the Beast trio. Like The Beast in Jean Cocteau’s film, the animalics in Ma Bête are regal, elegant, and poetic but retain their bite — still wild, with their growls intact. As anyone who’s read my blog, Yesterdaysperfume.com, or my book Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume knows, animalics are my jam. And when I heard the anecdote that Greta Garbo responded to the Beast’s death in the film by exclaiming “Bring me back My Beast!” — it encompassed so much of what I felt about perfume — wanting the beastliness of animalics I encountered in the past to come back, and having an opportunity to do a post-modern revival of them with Antoine’s futuristic touch. That’s what I hoped to do with this trio — to bring back the Beast of vintage animalics for a contemporary audience.
MX. & MXXX.
An homage to the contemporary gender revolution, ERIS Mx. (pronounced “mix”) is named for the gender neutral honorific replacing more gendered titles like Mr. or Ms. It represents cozy sensuality, both masculine and feminine, on a genderfluid spectrum. (I even wrote an article in 2015 about “Mx.” getting into the Oxford English Dictionary!) Think of a gender mash-up of fragrance references, not binary or either or. Think CKOne, but with sensuality and a more gender ambiguous, nonbinary sensibility. (Mxxx. is the more animalic extrait concentration with real ambergris and Hyraceum.) This mood board features some genderfluid icons, including Prince, Grace Jones, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, Violet Chachki, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith, a 1969 Lanvin My Sin perfume ad, and other fashion images…