Azzedine Alaïa was nowhere to be seen at the press presentation for his first fragrance, Alaïa Paris, held this week in the legendary Marais building where he resides and crafts his iconic, shapely dresses — not to mention where countless celebrities and models have famously wined and dined.
But the nose, Marie Salamagne, was surrounded by journalists extolling the juice in a manner recalling the rapturous editors in the opening scene of William Klein’s ironic film Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? For Salamagne, Alaïa Paris — made with Beaté Prestige — marks a milestone in her career, which also includes Kenzo’s now-defunct Tokyo scent.
She obviously enjoyed working the Alaïa way — long sessions ending with vodka and monthly meetings with the designer’s close collaborators, notably 10 Corso Como’s Carla Sozzani and the photographer Paolo Roversi. “It was a lesson in creativity and excellence,” she said at the presentation. “They are unfussy people, who say things very directly. And we laughed a lot. Mr. Alaïa loves teasing people.”
Alaïa notoriously has a no-deadline mindset — he stages fashion shows as he sees fit, most of the time not at all — which was a bit hard to square with the rigid demands of the fragrance industry. But they finally wrapped the project in a year and a half, and the result is a rather conventionally feminine fragrance.
Alaïa was adamant that the scent exude a long–lasting freshness. Indeed, the starting point was childhood memories of his grandmother in Tunisia splashing water against scorching-hot walls. Salamagne tried to recreate the sensation by opening the eau de parfum (also available as a body lotion and shower gel) with pink pepper, before revealing peony and freesia heart notes, and ending with musk. The bottle, created by Martin Skezely, reproduces Alaïa’s signature cut-out pattern that first appeared on a belt in 1992, while the cap resembles a spool of golden thread.
Alaïa might be a father figure to the hallowed group of original supermodels of the early nineties, but they were a no-show in the advertising image, shot by Roversi. Instead, he brought back the wonderful Guinevere Van Seenus, an icon of the post-supermodel era.
Alaïa Paris eau de parfum, at the Azzedine Alaïa store in Paris starting June 2015, followed by select stores worldwide