Jennifer Lawrence in 4 covers for Vogue 125th anniversary special edition, images by John Currin, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Inez and Vinoodh (September 2017)
How do you bottle a century and a quarter of the most famous fashion magazine in the world? The development of the magazine’s first perfume, Comme des Garcons Vogue 125 was created to commemorate Vogue’s 125th anniversary. Beauty Director Celia Ellenberg assembled a long list of disparate, sometimes discordant, fragrance notes that signified key moments and people from Vogue’s storied history. Vogue 125 is the distillation of the world’s most famous – and powerful – fashion magazine: the smell of glossy pages, dotted with fragrance signatures of the personalities who shaped it.
Beauty Director Celia Ellenberg of Vogue and Christian Astuguevieille, Creative Director of Comme des Garcons
These olfactory jottings were sent to Comme des Garcons Parfums Creative Director Christian Astuguevieille, and the challenge to define the fragrance of Vogue was underway. Ultimately, Astuguevieille created a floral scent that weaves Vogue’s trajectory from weekly newspaper to couture powerhouse, joining the modern, synthetic smell of the photo lab and cigarette tobacco with faded leather and echoing florals that summon decades past.
Katy Perry in Comme des Garcons for Vogue cover shoot, photo by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, May 2017©
Comme des Garcons Vogue 125 starts out starkly 21st century. Strip off the shrink wrap of a new magazine, and you have the sharp first notes — a blast of scotch tape and lemon Pledge that gives an impression of glossy printed paper, pages redolent of photo processing. Coming up behind the photo processing smells is a metallic spatter of ink and a blond tobacco note. This is not the moist, loamy plant note of tobacco absolutes, but a dry tang created by the aroma chemical acetyl furan; the dry, wood pulp smell of filterless cigarettes just popped from the pack by Diana Vreeland’s elegant hand.
Diana Vreeland and Doe Avedon, photo by Richard Avedon, 1946
The second stage is subtler, as memories of further away often are, and, fittingly, takes rather longer to arrive. An indistinct, perfume-y floral note enters the studio, quietly turning into peony with its raindrop-on-petals smell. The overlay of that chemical opening and the dewy, realistic flower gives the impression of modern juxtaposed over vintage – a quality that intensifies as the other notes come forward. Soft, powder-and-violet leather takes Vogue 125 back to the 60s, when staff were required to wear gloves in the office. Traveling backwards, a debutante tuberose steps forward, soapy and sweet, like those popular in the 50s. This middle stage is far subtler than the opening, as if by referencing past times, the perfume’s aggressiveness fades like an old photograph.
Condé Montrose Nast, photographer unknown
No perfume honoring Vogue’s 125th birthday would be complete with a nod to its founder, magnate and publisher Condé Montrose Nast. In homage to Nast, Astuguevieille brings in an understated lily of the valley, bouquets of which Vogue’s eminence grise kept in his dressing room.
Comme des Garcons Vogue 125 is ultimately a more low-key affair than I expected an intimate party for friends rather than an extravagant gala. With its seamless integration of state-of-the-art synthetics and realistic florals, Astuguevieille’s olfactory tribute is both brightly current and wistful; remembrances of past elegance and this morning’s bustle side-by-side in the same bottle. Which is just what it should be.
Disclaimer: Sample of Comme des Garcons Vogue 125 kindly provided by Twisted Lily – many thanks. My opinions, as always, are my own.
– Lauryn Beer, Senior Editor
Comme des Garcons Vogue 125
Thanks to the generosity of Twisted Lily, we have generous samples of Comme des Garcons Vogue 125 for 3 registered readers in the U.S. To be eligible, please leave a comment saying that appeals to you about the perfume based on Lauryn’s review, if you are a Vogue reader, and whether you have a favourite Comme des Garcons perfume. Draw closes 3/6/2018.
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