Friday, 3 July 2015

Karen Walker Fragrance Launch & Interview!

Karen Walker Fragrance
Karen Walker Fragrance
Karen Walker Fragrance
I still can't quite believe how lucky I was to be invited to a very special event at Harvey Nichols in Leeds a month or two ago. It was definitely one of those moments you just can't really believe is happening and I'm still in awe about the fact that I had the opportunity to interview the incredible Karen Walker at the launch of her new trio of fragrances. I don't know how many of you have heard of Karen Walker but she's a wonderfully talented fashion designer (and such a kind and funny woman!) who's been listed in the Business of Fashion's BOF500 (a list of people shaping the global fashion industry) each year since the list was launched. She's already taken the world of fashion by storm and her amazing eyewear collection has celeb fans such as Alex Chung *swoon*, Alessandra Ambrosio, Beyonce, Rihanna, Miranda Kerr, Kate Bosworth, Scarlett Johansson just to name a few (I could seriously go on fangirling forever!) and now she's delving into the world of fragrance. As expected her trio of fragrances, curiously named A, B and C, bottle up the vibrant and optimistic style of the Karen Walker woman and work harmoniously together as a wardrobe of fragrances which allow a woman to have a scent for any mood, day, time or occasion. 

The main thing I love about Karen Walker's new fragrances is the bright, fun design that embodies the quintessential life of Karen's birthplace - New Zealand. I also adore the anonymity of the names: A, B and C allow each individual to make their own interpretation of the scent and discover and relate to it in a completely unique and uninfluenced way! There's a sense of mystery surrounding the scents as they reveal so little about the contents inside. There's none of the stereotypical, overtly sexualised imagery that's often associated with perfume adverts and Karen Walker makes fragrance playful, exciting and available to universal woman whilst still holding onto her chic but eclectic sense of style. 
Karen Walker Fragrance
Karen Walker Fragrance
I'm terrible at describing scents so the majority of my description is going to be stolen from the experts but I really struggled to decide which fragrance was my favourite at the launch! A, B and C are so dissimilar yet so beautiful in their own individual way and if you ever walk past a Harvey Nichols store I urge you to take a sniff! At £65 for 50ml they're not cheap but I can't believe how long the scent lingers on the skin! I kept a little scented piece of card with C sprayed on it in my bag after the launch and my entire bag (content included) ended up smelling of the perfume for weeks afterwards! I have no idea what Karen has done to make her Eau de Parfum so long lasting but it's something everybody should be doing to their fragrances! 

A, the Fruity Floral and also termed 'the happiness potion' is a fresh, herbal scent that, for Karen, is 'the feeling of pure happiness that only dappled sunshine through verdant trees and a garden in bloom can create.' Think of mojitos on a summer's day whilst walking through a beautiful garden. A contains top notes of cassis, grapefruit and crushed mint leaves, heart notes of lily, rose, lily of the valley and ylang ylang and a base note of solar musk accord.

B is 'feminine and efflorescent' and it has top notes of bergamot, pink pepper and grapefruit, heart notes of iris, white rose, Sambac jasmine and peach and base notes of patchouli, tonka bean and musk. It's a really lovely scent and one which I think might be the most popular of the trio and it's known as the Gourmand Floral of the trio.

C is 'addictive' and, honestly, that is the perfect word to describe the scent. I could not stop smelling this all the way through the launch and it's the scent that I couldn't work out but absolutely fell in love with. Known as the Sensual Floral it's 'compelling, opulent and generous' and it contains all of Karen's favourite flowers. C has top notes of gardenia, magnolia, mandarine and bergamot, heart notes of tuberose, lily of the valley, orange flower and Sambac jasmine and base notes of sandalwood, amber, musk and cashmere wood. 
Karen Walker Fragrance
I'm such a novice when it comes to interviews but I had the chance to speak one-on-one with Karen and ask her a couple of questions! She was such a lovely, kind person and so enthusiastic so I just wanted to say a special thank you to her and to the Harvey Nichols team in Leeds for giving me such an amazing opportunity!

How did you find the process of creating a fragrance in comparison to designing clothing/eyewear?
The process itself is exactly the same. You start with concept, with a mood and your brand values, and then create your first draft, change it, and you go back and forth until it feels right.  So, each of these fragrances had 6 reworks and we've been through about 200 fragrances in total and it was about a 14 month process.

How on earth did you remember which fragrance was which? 
That's the tricky bit! Everything else I do is visual. There's always a big room with a design board where you can see everything at a glance and you can make comparisons quickly and see it as a body of work. With fragrances you smell it, make your notes and move on to the next one and by the time you've thought about the second fragrance you've forgotten what the first one smells like! So you really have to give it a lot of time, slow it down and come back to each fragrance over a number of days.

Why do you decide to create a Trio of Fragrances?
We decided on 3 very early on. Mainly because I'm used to working within a body of work and when we design for the runway there are 34 or so looks and for eyewear we can have 20 pieces in the collection. I didn't feel like I could tell a story within one fragrance but I also really wanted to treat fragrances like a wardrobe. So it's not just like one fits all, full stop. The trio offers something that's right for you on a particular day or time. It's like working out what you're going to wear: what's the weather like, what's going today, what's my diary look like, who will I be seeing, how am I feeling, do I need more energy, do I need more calmness? You can really think about it and then know that's the fragrance for today. I don't think people really wear one fragrance, they always have a selection, so that's one of the reasons I decided on a trio.

Why did you call the fragrances A, B and C? I felt like it created a lot of mystery as you really don't know what to expect.
That's right, it doesn't really give much away! With a lot of fragrances the name kind of tells you a little bit about how it's going to smell. The A, B, C initially came off the idea of the trio! When you have a trio you have three options and you go A, B and C. So it kind of came off that but it also speaks to that idea of creativity, energy and creating possibilities. We also liked the simplicity of it and it lead beautifully into the idea of the building blocks with the bottles and the boxes themselves.

We then continued to talk about the visual aspect of the perfume and the launch, speaking about how the Karen Walker image was incorporated into the packaging, the advertisement and in social media.
Fragrance is tricky, how do you turn what your brand stands for into an image? That's not easy! So that's really where the blow up idea came from. It captures the energy of the brand and it also has that fun to it. We also did the Street Campaign for the social media and shot in Sydney and in London and this leads onto the Instagram campaign where we've been encouraging people to take their own photographs with the blow up figures as it's the gift with purchase and use the hashtag #KarenWalkerFragrances. We're gifting the trio to our favourite 15 photographers. So, it's that sort of idea of taking the mood of the fragrances and visually bringing it into the world.

Where do you look to for inspiration?
People, friends, places, art... although sometimes it's just a process of sitting down with a piece of white paper and a pen and using your imagination. But often the inspiration is sitting there already just filed away. Usually when we have an idea it's something we've already been thinking about we just have to join the dots. Our Creative Director is also amazing, you have to have a good team alongside you as well!

And then the talk went a little off topic and turned to cutest dog ever named Toast who fronted one of Karen's Eyewear campaigns.  Seriously, search #ToastMeetsKaren and @toastmeetsworld on Instagram! She is adorable! 

Let me know if you've already smelt Karen Walker's new fragrances.
You can buy them exclusively at Harvey Nichols in store and online.

I'm definitely going to be asking for one, or two or maybe all 3 fragrances for my birthday as I simply can't decide on a favourite between A, B and C!  

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