As if Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen hadn't prepped for Total World Domination already with their trifecta of fashion enterprises (count 'em: The Row, Elizabeth and James, and Olsenboye), the designer duo has now expanded their all-price-point retail empire even further with the launch of not one, but two fragrances. The new eaus come courtesy of their contemporary apparel brand, Elizabeth and James, and feature two individual scents. Reminiscent of the virgin-vamp dichotomy (to us, at least), Nirvana White is a demure potpourri of peony, muguet, and musk, while Nirvana Black is a more provocative cocktail of violet, sandalwood, and vanilla. Here, we chatted with Mary-Kate and Ashley about where exactly to apply perfume, the benefits of applying makeup in the dark, and their hidden talent for whacking off hair.
What was your inspiration behind both of these Nirvana fragrances and why did you decide to come out with two scents instead of one?
Mary-Kate: We really started the initial thought process focusing on Nirvana Black, actually. It was about the scents that we loved: sandalwood, musks, something sensual, and something that felt nostalgic in a way. And the more we started thinking about our brand, we recognized there's such a duality to Elizabeth and James, and we felt it was really only appropriate if we did two scents and gave a choice. So then we started down a floral path, but we still wanted that same sensuality, so we focused on peony. Nirvana White had to feel like it came from the same place, from the same intention. They're just two different types. We wanted them to feel like oils. My sister and I are very big on oils. That's something we're working on next actually, which is great for us. But Nirvana is really about how they fit on your skin and how they settle.
Ashley: We really wanted quality over quantity, so there are very few notes and we stuck to those and didn't add anything that wasn't necessary. We wanted it to feel like the scent was coming from within you instead of sitting on top of you.
What are your tips for where or how to apply fragrance?
MK: For me, it depends on the application. With a spray bottle I usually spray it out and walk through it, or I'll spray it on me from afar. And with oils I usually tend to rub it on my wrists and then use my wrists to dab behind my ear and on my neck. That way it's more of just a hint of fragrance.
A: I also like if you spritz it in your hair, then to me it becomes not something that's really applied, but it becomes something that feels a part of you.
Scent inspires such strong guttural reactions from all of us and is so heavily tied to memory. What's your favorite or fondest scent when it comes to food? Any food smells that instantly give you the warm and fuzzies?
MK: I think it's coffee for me. It feels like a part of my childhood. It was something that I smelled a lot. It just reminds me of having a routine in the morning.
A: I feel like it's popcorn for me. It's not my favorite food but the smell is fantastic and it always makes you want to eat it. I don't eat a lot of popcorn in the movie theaters, but the scent is really great.
What are your must-have beauty products that you carry in your purse at all times?
A: Sometimes I bring an eyebrow spoolie.
A: It's more of a high-impact chapstick for sports like hiking and skiing. We both like that.
Who's your beauty icon?
MK: We were just talking about Lauren Hutton and how she's such a woman in every single sense of the word. She's known for her beauty but not because of how she looks, but because of who she is and what she stands for. She's a more natural beauty who's both approachable and relatable.
Any bad beauty habits you just can't quite break?
A: I don't do this myself, but I feel like the worst beauty habit that people have is when they pick their own skin. That's just really bad. Everyone's tempted to do it sometimes, but it's just the worst thing you can do. I prefer to get ready with the lights off so I'm never even tempted to look at my skin!
What about any hidden beauty talents?
A: I think I'm pretty good at doing other people's makeup. I think after getting my makeup done for so many years I'm pretty good at that. My friend actually also made me cut her hair the other day and that didn't look too bad either. She had long hair, too. It was down to here [salutes to her belly button] and I cut it up to here [points to just below her shoulder]. She made me do it, but it looks great. I made it a blunt, A-line haircut. And then we had a professional come in after and clean it up a bit! But it was pretty good on its own.
MK: You know, the truth is I feel like I just learned how to brush my hair like last week! [She laughs.]
Photos: Courtesy of Sephora