Blue Notes: Alber Elbaz

Designer Alber Elbaz explains how his gift for storytelling extends to Lanvin's new fragrance, Me.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Designer)

MARIE CLAIRE: How is creating a perfume different than designing a collection?

ALBER ELBAZ: With fashion, I barely finish one collection before I must start another. Sales begin, and I am already elsewhere creatively. But when we do a fragrance, it must embody the perennial appeal and style of Lanvin for the long term, ignoring the ephemeral nature of a collection.

MC: And how do you do that?

AE: What I love in fashion is to tell a story through a creation. And a fragrance is a veritable story, told and explained in scent, in notes, in impressions. It's a score based on the emotions of each instant, a captivating music of the senses.

MC: What inspired this story?

AE: It was a Steven Meisel photograph from one of our campaigns a few seasons ago. The model is looking at herself in a mirror—she is double and therefore complex. I liked that idea of poetic duality. We started to work along those lines to come up with a different type of fragrance, a perfume that could be offered to women as a present or that a woman could give herself.

MC: What type of woman do you imagine will wear it?

AE: She is contemporary but detests overly extravagant fashion—she refuses uniforms. She pays attention to who she is and what she wears rather than trying to position herself with respect to others. I see her as young, feminine, a bit romantic, even neoclassical. She is—or would like to be—a Parisian, because our house is so evocative of France's capital and because the city is so synonymous with sensuality and elegance.

MC: How did you translate that sensuality to the scent itself?

AE: I am very sensitive to the smells and sensations that are part of perfumes because they remind me of things: moments from the past, people, events. For Me, we wanted to convey a luminous sensuality, so the fragrance features passionate middle notes—tuberose, rose absolue—and it has licorice root and sandalwood for an elegant, addictive signature. Perfume designer Domitille Bertier also wanted a touch of Lanvin blue in the scent, which is why there are sparkling blueberry accents.

MC: Was it difficult to find time for this project with all that you do?

AE: I work six days a week, if not seven. My days resemble a meal where I must simultaneously eat a bite of fish with a spoonful of chocolate soufflé and sip a drop of wine, and I work 18 hours out of 24—fortunately, with a great deal of pleasure. Why? Because I only do something if I want to do it. This project was worthwhile and meaningful—it tickled my intuition. I love to travel inside my head, take journeys toward the unknown, meet new people, dream. I need to feel a desire, to find pleasure in moving forward, creating, inventing. The day I cease to learn, I must stop.

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