dimanche 5 octobre 2008

Karl Lagerfeld Kapsule (and a draw of Kollector minis)

Sorry for giving you the silent treatment, boys and girls. Last week was Paris Fashion Week and I was asked to cover some of the shows by la-couture.com, a Paris-based webzine with a taste for the more directional young designers (read: Belgian, Japanese and a smattering of Asians). What with my usual grueling work schedule, this barely left time for basic bodily functions, let alone blogging.

However, I did bring back a goody bag from Karl Lagerfeld’s show (for his own eponymous label, not Chanel): three whopping 5 ml minis of his new fragrance trio Kapsule, to be launched in the coming days.

In the same way Karl likes to inject his own sartorial choices in his collections – stiff-collared white shirts, stiff black patent-leather waist-cinchers, stiff hand and arm metallic lace jewelry by Erik Halley -- Kapsule goes in for a bit of gender-bending. All three fragrances are meant to be worn by men and women, despite the floral notes of two of them. And all three may be layered at will, which makes for seven different fragrances in all, for the price of three.

The idea of a set for layering is not exactly new: Claude Montana launched his Eau d’or, Eau d’Argent and Eau cuivrée way back in 1994 as a set called Suggestion. The concept poses a number of problems: each fragrance has to stand on its own while combining smoothly with either or both of the two others. The problem, here, is compounded by the fact that Coty called on three different perfumers: Mark Buxton for Light and Emilie Coppermann for Floriental, both from Symrise, and Olivier Cresp from Firmenich for Woody. Buxton (he of Comme des Garçons fame) and Coppermann (Eau de Lalique, Brit Pure) worked together on Paco Rabanne Black XS for Her. Oliver Cresp has authored, among other fragrances, the mega-hits Angel and Light Blue, as well as the original Black XS. A pretty good line-up, all told.

The bottles, colored glass squares with the cap on one of the corners, have been revealed by Octavian of 1000fragrances to have been lifted straight for a long-defunct brand of the 20s, Ybry, for a 1925 perfume called Mon Âme. Lagerfeld, an erudite of things Art Deco, which he used to collect, is surely aware of this, but he’s not saying: they’re meant, he explains, to recall the shape of books (which he still collects).

Not much is said about the K.’s input on the actual fragrances, although he has lent himself with his usual gusto and wit to the promotional grind, revealing that he usual wears Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile or a combination of Shalimar and an unspecified Comme des Garçons. No stranger to perfumery, Lagerfeld wore Rochas Moustache (by Thérèse Roudnitska) as well as Jacques Fath’s Iris Gris and Green Water (both by Vincent Roubert) as a young man. He launched his first fragrance, the masculine Classic in 1978 (he says he stopped wearing it when he started to smell it on everyone). KL (1982), Photo (1990), Sun Moon Stars (1994), Jako (1997), Lagerfeld Femme (1990), Lagerfeld Homme (2002) followed, none of which I’ve smelled, unfortunately, making it hard for me to tell whether there is an actual Lagerfeld olfactory style.

So what about the fragrances themselves?

Though I greatly admire Lagerfeld’s cut-and-paste genius, his wit and his persona (he calls it his "puppet"), I wasn’t expecting an awful lot, given that the scents are made by Coty (Sarah Jessica Parker’s are nice, but let’s say they didn’t make the earth move for me).

Well, they’re actually pretty nice in a mainstream way. They clearly didn’t set out to give Serge Lutens or Frédéric Malle a run for their money, and they pretty much do what it says on the bottle. And what it says on the bottle is pretty generic: Light, Floriental, Woody.

Mark Buxton’s Light, Karl Lagerfeld’s avowed favorite of the three, sounds like it might be a cologne-ish thing, but isn’t: it’s a jasmine spiced-up with nutmeg and clove, as well as a dash of bitter orange, but not in a pomander-ish way. The general feel is of a watered-down, slightly butched-up Jasmin de Nuit , with a muguet type of green floral note in the middle which brings to mind the one in Chanel Beige (though that’s where the resemblance stops). The more I wear it, the more it pleases me: I keep looking around to see where that lovely, moist floral scent is coming from... Left wrist.

Emilie Coppermann’s Floriental starts with a bit of nose-tingling greenery which could be the listed ivy leaf: the green opens up the space in which the violet and black tea, also listed, get to mingle. Neither is particularly strong (the black tea in particular doesn’t give off any smokiness – this is no Bulgari Black). I could swear there’s amber in the base notes (makes sense for an oriental), but this definitely sticks to the unisex brief.

Olivier Cresp’s Woody lists plum and cedar (shades of Féminité du Bois), and there’s something a little smoky-sweet that smells like benzoin. It starts off with some tartness and comes off pretty sweet right off the bat. The cedar, possibly of the Virginia, pencil-shaving (and slightly headache-inducing to me) variety, pops up in a matter of minutes.

These all need quite a bit of spritzing to give off any sillage, what with the edt concentration: they’re fairly simple but with some evolution. So far, I’m with Karl on Light as my favorite of the bunch, but I haven’t tried layering yet: stay tuned for further experiments. Meanwhile, the scent that's wafting up from the three scent strips is pretty nice, which bodes well.

In the meantime, let’s have a little draw: drop a comment, and if picked out of the hat (I’ll get my psycho Siamese girl Jicky to pounce on the paper slips and make the choice), you will receive a trio of Karl Lagerfeld Kapsule minis, straight from the Paris Katwalk.

37 commentaires:

  1. You were missed...welcome back.

    I have experienced both KL and Sun, Moon, Stars, and they are different enough that I'd want to smell even more before pronouncing any potential Karl-ness to his ouevre.

    Am starting to sample Norma Kamali intended-for-layering scents; it would be nice if Karl's had the same sense of quality, but apparently they don't quite?

    A sad tale about KL, which was in my young adulthood what I now know could be called a "signature scent." I can't believe that I threw it away when packing for the move to the current house...was operating under advice I remembered reading, saying perfume always turned bad after a year, and thinking I was being virtuous and turning a corner in my tendency to save things.... Would love the opportunity to smell it again, just to see if memory serves right. But many other things have jumped to the top of the Scents to Smell priority list.

    Please tell Jicky that whoever's name she should jump upon, I wish her happy pouncing. :)

  2. Scentself, Jicky is happy to pounce on just about anything... Me, mostly, at night.
    I hadn't thought of the Kamalis, I doubt they ever made it to France.
    As for KL, maybe serendipity will make your path cross another flacon some day... I'm quite the hoarder, and if it weren't for my mom, I'd still have the stuff I wore in my teens (the ORIGINAL Shiseido Zen, for one thing).
    The Kapsules are actually growing on me, I must say...

  3. An interesting week. When I think of Lagerfeld and perfumes, I always think of the original Chloe, which I still miss. But perhaps Lagerfeld felt no personal attraction to it, even though he was the head of the design house at the time? Anyway, I'm curious to sniff his new fragrances, so please submit my name to Jicky's paw.
    -- Gretchen

  4. I really enjoy your blog - glad to see you back after a hectic week! Would love to be in the draw ...

  5. Hi Gretchen. I used to wear Chloé when it came out. As a matter of fact, I've still got that bottle. But KL hasn't been with Chloé for quite some time now, and I'm not too sure he had much say in the house's fragrances.
    You're in the draw!

  6. I missed you, but guessed you were up to something exciting -- and you were! Note to Jicky -- please choose me. meow....

  7. Hi CC,

    I'd love to be entered into the draw. I'd also like to thank you for the lovely blog as well as the contest, for not only is your writing lovely, but you've given me a chance to brush up on my French. :-)

    I hope this week will be less crazy for you. Have a good day!

  8. Hi D, I've missed you too, although I haven't commented in a while, I try to keep up with your commentaries -- I'll check into that young couture site next -- I'm a big Karl fan, having read A Beautiful Fall this year, and seen the documentary too......what an original nut! I've never forayed into his scent-world but Light sounds lovely to me too! Hi to Jicky.

    Now I want to sniff Moustache too......look for something in the mail, finally, in 10 days or so.........OXOXOXOX W

  9. PS: It is intimated in The Beautiful Fall (I hear it's not available in France due to a ban by K himself) that he had a fair amount to do with Chloe, which was developed by Elizabeth Arden in 1975, as it was the debut of his major profit-sharing at Chloe. He had made a new deal with Chloe's owners strictly for licensing, in which he garnered 50%. Wasn't Chloe the first (and one of the best?) fruity-florals? I can kind of smell it in my head, but it's been a long time, and it wasn't Moi at the time -- Private Collection was, I was trying to be very grown up, and Chloe seemed too young ; )

  10. Thanks Pavlova. You're in! But Miss Jicky says she'll be most cruelly impartial, because she can't read (yet).

  11. Hi Sue. I'm glad the blog also has a pedagogical purpose! I kind of thought it could... You're in!

  12. Hi Qwendy, glad to see you here!
    If you should ever stumble upon Karl, don't mention the Beautiful Fall, which he claims is full of inaccuracies. I can understand how it would annoy him deeply.
    It's not banned in France. I think he initially attempted to get the import of the English version banned, but his case was rejected. Pressures were then exerted on English bookshops of which he is a major client, but I got it in The Village Voice, near Saint-Sulpice.
    It is now out in French under the partly English title "Beautiful People", but apparently expurgated -- for ages French publishers wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.
    I've never smelled Moustache either, Roudnitska's wife composed it, it's said to be excellent.

  13. Qwendy, I'll have to dig out that bit about Chloe. It was a great scent, though every time I sniff it from my old bottle, I back off from wearing it for some reason.

  14. I usually only read your blog, but now since there are minis in question, I decided to try my luck.
    I'm still kind of vary of layering since I don't think my nose can guess whether the result might be ok, or not but when you have fragrances that are meant to be tried in such a way, I'd love to experiment a bit.
    P.S. Glad you're back. :)

  15. Thanks, Ines. I'm not a big fan of layering either, because I figure the perfumer knew what he was doing in the first place and shouldn't be second-guessed (that is, when the fragrance is good: if it isn't, don't wear it). But, yes, the experiment will be interesting. I'm doing a couple today with the Kapsules. And you're in.

  16. Ooh, a butched-up versin of Jasmin de Nuit? Sounds absolutely fabulous and I'd love to try them! Jasmin de Nuit is currently my favorite perfume :)

  17. I wish I can read the French =P please enter me in the draw... perhaps Jicky will grace me with her pouncing =)

  18. Welcome back, D. You were definitely missed. The new KL fragrances sound intriguing, particularly the Mark Buxton one. I shall offer myself up to the tender mercies of Jicky...

  19. Gail, when I say butched-up I mean somewhat more gender-bending (i.e. a bit more masculine). But it's a lot softer than Jasmin de Nuit at the same time.
    You're in!

  20. Monica, it's almost the same as the English anyway... You're in!

  21. Thanks Jarvis. Light is still my favourite three days in... You're entered!

  22. You know, I have the impression that everything annoys him deeply, but I don't mind! He no longer speaks to the guy who made the doc either I think, and K himself was right there, being, um, himself! I still love the guy, manias intact, because they all add up to him. Honestly I was surprised at first that he's so touchy, as given as he is to hyperbole, plus he seems to tell a different story each time he is asked anything, and as a master of PR, I figured he'd understand that it all adds to the mystique, but NO! Poor Karl. I'm terribly curious about him, and so few public figures pique my interest......I'm entered, right ; ) ?

    There's very little reported in the book other than what I mentioned, sadly. Was Chloe one of the first fruity florals of our times? I don't remember any others of the early 70's, but maybe I wasn't paying attention because they weren't my thing.

  23. Qwendy, Karl's Karl... I think he hates not being able to control what's said about him: he's perfected such an impeccable, impregnable persona that anything that's outside of that (say, what other people may reveal about his past) seems somehow disorderly and vulgar to him... I think.
    As for Chloe, I wore it, but I definitely was paying attention to other stuff in the mid-Seventies (mainly sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, and being underaged for it all).

  24. Yes I did the math when you said you had a bottle from the time of its release, and since I had JUST attained majority when it was released, I wondered.............................

  25. put me in the draw, please! i feel i should make more of a comment, but at the moment the cat's got me tongue......


  26. Lagerfeld's collection was one of my favorite of the (dreary) week. Dissappointment from all sides! I loved the jewelry and the belts--the silhouette was great.

    No need to enter me in the drawing for these--I'm through sampling and trying to go for full bottles of my faves.

  27. Lunarose, you're in! I'm sure the cat will release your tongue when's she's through batting it around.. ;-)

  28. Billy, I thought you, of all people... Well, I liked Karl's collection too, but I've been pretty smitten by Haider Ackermann for as long as I've followed his work and Véronique Branquinho did a lovely collection...

  29. well, I do have a love for Karl (and for your blog) so I'll throw my hat into the ring..

  30. Thank you for such a beautifully written blog. I would love to be in the draw.


  31. Light sounds like something I'd enjoy. Would love to try all 3!


  32. Was ever-so-underwhelmed by these...