Bracing whiff of artistic spirit for designer Greg Lauren

November 18, 2013

LOS ANGELES — When actor, artist and fashion designer Greg Lauren unveiled his foray into the world of fragrance in Hollywood late last month, he did it with a stroke of genius.

Against a backdrop of olive-drab Army tents and paint-splattered plywood floors, a paintbrush-wielding gentleman near the entrance generously anointed guests with a baptismal swath of blue paint.

Once inside, the guests, who had been provided white Greg Lauren overshirts on arrival, removed them and hung them on racks to dry and were given claim tickets so they could take their creations with them as they left.

"I wanted everyone to immediately and interactively engage in the artistic spirit," Lauren said. "To have fun and feel what it’s like to be the bottle."

He was referring to the paint-splattered fragrance bottles, each one distressed by Lauren himself — a torn label here, a bit of hand-sanding there — and labeled with a piece of masking tape on which he’d written his name with a black Sharpie pen.

"I wanted each person to feel like they were getting a little piece of art — a little jewel," he said. "so that they’d think, ‘Wow, a person really touched this.’"

For the scent itself — a collaboration with Barneys New York — Lauren turned to renowned perfumer Ralf Schweiger (whose past efforts include Marc Jacobs Men and Yves St. Laurent Baby Doll), asking him to craft a fragrance that reflected some of the common themes in the artist’s work.

"I wanted the contradictory themes of strength and vulnerability, pain and beauty," Lauren said. "I literally asked (Schweiger) if there was a scent that we could find that would make you cry and make you smile at the same time. That’s what I wanted."

The result is a unisex fragrance described as "a combination of tonka beans, vanilla and marine notes."

Perhaps it was because Lauren had mentioned crying, but our first sniff gave us a distinct impression of salty and sweet and evoked the image of one’s true love sitting in a scented bubble bath, warm tears streaming down her face and pooling atop a vanilla sundae.

Greg Lauren for Barneys New York is the second in the retailer’s designer fragrance collection. The 2,500 limited-edition 100-milliliter bottles are priced at $195 each.



McClatchy Tribune Information Services