Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kapsule by Karl Lagerfeld: new fragrances ~Light, Woody, Floriental

Karl Lagerfeld is best known for a few things: his trademark ponytail, his eye-glaring weight-loss, his prolific churning-out of numerous collections for several brands (Chanel, his own, Fendi etc.) and his perfume fetish. The latter got manifested not only through his own personal choices (one of which is the immortelle-rich Eau Noire by Dior's private line, at the same time when he donned the Heidi Sleiman suits on his newly thinspirational figure), but through the fragrances under his own name. From the old Chloe (which got reformulated recently into a completely new fragrance)and the spicy KL to the discontinued Sun, Moon, Stars and Photo for men.

Now Karl is launching a new unisex line, called Kapsule, (with K standing for Karl?) in collaboration with Coty. The press release is talking about aiming to en-Kapsule-ate the French market, whatever that might mean. The aim of Lagerfeld is making a quality perfume that will be affordable.
Somehow, Coty as the investor can be a blessing and a curse: It might signify a low markup that will aim at wide distribution, great team and PR and prove very successful commercially (example: Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker) or it could equal a celebritoid vibe on the mind of perfume buying audiences that is sub-par in quality (example: all the usual suspects, I'm afraid). At any case, the Coty team are not novices and they know what they're doing.
For Karl Lagerfeld the project has acquired a -shall I say it?- rather "niche" touch: from the sparse bottles to the unisex proclivities. The names which evoke fragrance families are gently evocative of the newest trio of Guerlain Carnal Elixirs/Elixirs Charnels, although much less playful in their intent. Also the different perfumers behind the different versions within the same range is another niche trait.
Everyone is doing their own version of niche! Niche is the new mass-market, obviously.

The new line will nevertheless be issued in three versions, each aiming to capture its own audience:
Light will be fresh and summery, with notes of bitter orange, jasmine, nutmeg, clove and musk.(transparent blue bottle; nose: Mark Buxton)
Woody will be focused on cedar on an amber background with accents of plum and and moss. (dark blue bottle; nose: Olivier Cresp)
Floriental will be the most delicate with tea leaf aroma,ivy leaf and violet notes. (red bottle; nose: Emile Cooperman)
The names which evoke fragrance families are gently evocative of the newest trio of Guerlain Carnal Elixirs/Elixirs Charnels, although much less playful in their intent.
Bottles are simple and solid, designed by Lutz Herrmann: squarely built with a round label, each one tinted a different colour.

Expect to see the Kapsule collection by Karl Lagerfeld from October 2008, starting with Paris exclusively at Colette and Parfumeries Marionnaud and rolling out in Germany and US in November. Early sights of the range can also be caught by autumnal travellers who will see it in travel retail (duty-free shops). In the US Neiman Marcus will have them as an exclusive.
30ml/1oz or 75ml/2.5oz eau de toilette spray for €37/$59 and €68/$108 respectively.

Pics and info through wwd.and Vogue.fr


  1. Is it me or does Karl always look sorta constipated? :P
    But the fragrances sound OK, so I will give them a try when they come here. I wonder why the need for a "niche" line for Karl (you describe it in those terms), if he already has the Chanel ones.

  2. Anonymous13:30

    These sounds like such a vanity project. Isn't Lagerfeld bored with launching fragrances that end up gathering dust on the shelves of discounters?

  3. I don't even Liquid Karl even made it to the US. As for these well none of the notes are even calling to me and I am betting Woody is going to smell a lot like Euphoria and Flowerbomb.

  4. Sue,

    you're a bit harsh on poor Karl, LOL
    I think he saw the potential after seeing the desirability of the Chanel exclusives? Just my guess.

  5. Aline,

    I am not sure. To me, they sound like a business project, you know?
    I deduce that he knows something we don't, if he continues to put out perfumes even though some get discontinued. ~Now you got me thinking: why do they get discontinued in the first place? is that a good sign on the smells themselves, I wonder!

  6. Jen,

    Liquid Karl sounds atrocious for a fragrance name; it sounds (to me) like an experimental Dogma-erotic movie with hand-held camera and grainy shots.
    I am curious to know what Marc Buxton did with such a cliche series of notes for Light: his creations for CDG are certainly non conventional.

  7. I loved your word, "thinspirational" -- did you coin it? I'm gonna start using it.

  8. Well, I'll give them a sniff. But lately I've been disappointed by almost everything new in the mass-market.
    Sun, Moon, Stars is discontinued? Not in the UK - unless maybe Superdrug bought up a load of it just before they stopped producing it.

  9. Thanks Karin. I made the adjective out of the noun used by anorexics using photos of thin people as an incentive not to eat.

  10. Hi Tania! Hope you're well and thanks for stopping by and chimming in.

    I can't blame you: I have been disappointed in so many releases, both mainstream and niche. So much sampling, so few standout things.

    I think SMS is discontinued (which could explain the overload at Superdrug in some way!) but I am not 100% sure whether it is actual stop of production (the real sense of discontinuation) or just a regional phenomenon.
    I am not crying tears of grief in any case ;-)

  11. I like the word. Very clever, very! I will use it too.

  12. OK, very flattered you will. :-)

    Hope you're well with all the physical phenomena your way.

  13. Nor am I! :-) SMS was not my thing at all, though my littlest sister wore it for a while.
    I did like KL though, and still have some of the parfum left, I've had it for many years. I must try it, see if it's still good.

  14. Poor little sister, huh? :-)

    We agree on the KL: it was rather good, even in edt concentration. I don't think I have tried parfum in that one (you're giving me ideas), I bet it could be got cheaply online. ("cheapskate", you're perhaps thinking now! LOL)

    Yet Karl himself goes for the more difficult/harder to find (Eau Noire, CDG, Lutens, really old Guerlains etc.). Typical!

  15. stella polaris13:05

    As Horkheimer and Adorno note, “The multifarious nuances of the sense of smell embody the archetypal longing for ... direct unification with circumambient nature, with the earth and mud.” It can, as we know, have with more to do than Proustian recollections and sensual antecipations. Perhaps this longing for acquintence with, and knowledge about, the material source can partly explain why somboby want to investigate the variations of, say, vetiver?

  16. Dear S,

    on the part of perfumephiles, it sounds like what you point out has psychological resonance and perhaps it is a way of establishing a mystical bond with the universe through smells in a "I feel close to what I perceive as being a product of the same cosmic creation".
    The idea is certainly very appealing and has an Earth-Mother vibe to it that I know has several fans.

    Nevertheless I wonder sometimes if in another dear Theodor's string of thought it isn't a facet of us being manipulated by popular culture through the hermeneutics of perfume-lore distributed for our consuming. Because just how many of us have the means/opportunity of becoming a worker in the fields/technician at a distillery etc. for a month a year to really get to know the natural materials themselves through first-hand knowledge and therefore we settle for second-hand: travelling to see them, leafing through botany books, watching documentaries on the cultivation/methods etc.
    The above indirect manipulation would be a depressing and highly cynical thought though!
    Would you agree?

  17. stella polaris15:19

    Sorry, for posting this under Lagerfeldt and not in your vetiver-series. (usually I do things fast with no second reading before sending..)

  18. stella polaris15:32

    Well, I think dear Theodor overestimated the degree in which we are manipulated, but he has a point. (but manipulated nature is still nature)

  19. No problem whatsoever, dear S! I appreciate the thought process more than the logistics of proper place and your commentary is always highly valued. :-)

    And I have to say I do hope Theodor was going a little beyond what is commonly thought of as happening when he talked about that degree of manipulation. You're right, still nature.


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