We chat with the men behind Comme des Garçons latest gender-neutral fragrance.
As Comme des Garçons Parfums releases its latest unisex fragrance, we sit down with creative director Christian Astuguevieille and perfumer Antoine Maisondieu to get all the details.
MM: Hello gentlemen and thanks for your time. Could you tell us about your inspiration for Black Pepper?
AM: The inspiration came from Christian. He just came to see me and said, ‘OK, we want to make a new fragrance for Comme des Garçons and we would like it to be around pepper’. And it was as simple as that – his idea, his inspiration.
CA: My inspiration was born thanks to a perfume, which is very well known in France called Poivre (Pepper) from Caron. I wanted to look for a new ‘Pepper’ – something modern and difficult.
What difficulties do you face crafting a unisex perfume?
AM: The fact that the perfume is unisex is not the main issue for us. The main difficulty is to create something that is beautiful around one material – in this case that is pepper. I think the fragrance being worn by a man or a woman is the choice of the person who wears the perfume rather than the perfumer. Of course, you’re going to avoid anything too heavy on the flowers for men and you’re not going to go with anything too straight for a women, but in general I think it depends more on the person who wears it rather than the fragrance itself.
Why do you think unisex fragrances are becoming more popular?
CA: I think it’s a notion of modernity in fragrances. Many perfumes nowadays can be used by both sexes. Some men can wear very feminine perfumes, but what is important is that the person who wears the perfume has to feel good, strong, and seductive, and have the pleasure to wear it. That is the most important thing.
Black pepper is an unusual ingredient for a fragrance. Why did you choose that in particular?
AM: One quality of the pepper is to be very burning – very straight. We used the Madagascar pepper because when I smell it I almost feel the texture of the pepper seed itself. Pepper can be sharp sometimes, so when it is used in a fragrance you need to have something warmer. In fragrances it starts to get interesting when you have a clash between two ingredients that are different but are able to produce something beautiful, and I tried tonka bean for that – it works beautifully with the pepper.
How do you work together as creative director and perfumer?
CA: We actually worked with around 10 perfumers in different laboratories and in the end Antoine was the one who crafted a perfume we liked at the very first moment. He has since made lots of modifications to the scent throughout the process, but in the end we went all the way back to the start, so the final fragrance is actually the very first one that he made.
How would you describe the smell of the perfume and what kind of a person do you see wearing it?
AM: It’s a perfume made for perfume lovers, for people who have the culture of perfume, who already have several perfumes in the bathroom and will be able to appreciate all the elegance of this one. It could be a woman, a man, but I think that they have a common point which is that they are educated.
CA: For me it is a very educated perfume for people who really like perfume. It is for people who will appreciate it. It is for someone who is very elegant, who is looking for something different, is a bit daring, but not in a way that they are showing off. This is the same for a woman and a man.
How do you think customers in the Middle East will react to black Pepper?
AM: I think it’s going to be great! We are not trying to copy Middle East taste – that is very specific – but the region has a strong culture for perfume and you need a strong character to your perfume in order to do well there, and this one certainly has a strong character.
And finally, do you plan on releasing more unisex fragrances in the near future?
CA: Yes, definitely.