Now there's a cool face to front a fragrance!! I am almost jumping up and down from joy at the confirmation of news that Charlotte Gainsbourg, muse for Balenciaga's creative director Nicolas Ghesquière for some time now, will be fronting the new fragrance of the house coming out world-wide February 2010.
French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of Jane Birkin and "bad boy" of French music Serge Gaisnbourg is taking the baton from her mother (who had commissioned perhaps the most daring "celebrity" scent, the skankilicious Eau de Rien to Miller Harris, lovingly reviewed here). What strikes me as particularly hopeful is that in Charlotte Gainsbourg we're breaking from the "mold effect", which I had playfully alluded to while talking about other releases with less promise (such as Kasia for Idole d'Armani), being the very embodiment of what the French call jolie-laide: a woman with a non classically pretty visage that manages to exude terrific charm nonetheless. There is a lithe and delicate quality about her, the "daddy-long-legs limbs" of her (gorgeous) mother coupled with her hippy-chic hairstyle as well, but also jarringly the cubist-friendly features of her father superimposed on the canvas. The total is unexpected, graceful in a way that defies definition and intriguing into casting a second and a third glance. In essence (no pun intended) a super-cool choice to front a fragrance, whose very charm lies on mystery and the intrigue it creates into questioning "who is this wafting stranger?" She also has the ability to metamorphosize into more accepted perceptions of sexy which is not without merit in the shallow industry of the glossy arts. (watch her styled by Carine Roitfeld photoshoot for Vogue Paris Dec.2007)
Charlotte, fresh from Cannes win of Best Actress with the film Antichrist by cineaste rebel Lars von Trier intimated to WWD: "I have the feeling that the house of Balenciaga has become my second home." Ghesquière, who described Gainsbourg as "one of the most inspiring girls in the world" and "really representative of what France is today," declared she personifies his upcoming fragrance. "Her unique sense of style, her graceful and intense talent have always been very inspirational for me," he said. "This fruitful and long-standing relationship Charlotte has with me and the house of Balenciaga gives all its meaning to this project."
On the other hand, the handling of the Balenciaga franchise by Coty is foreboding (even if it had been announced last October as a salvaging move to bring the house under Coty's aegis), suppossing the downturn of the prestige status of the once venerable brand of innovator François is anything to go by. Coty fragrances are sold...well, at drugstores and mid-market stores. Spanish-born Cristobal Balenciaga, the top couturier admired by all other couturiers, had always been about impeccable and understated luxury. Never mind that Catherine Walsh, Senior Vice President Marketing American Licenses Coty Prestige said: "Charlotte Gainsbourg, besides her close collaboration and friendship with Nicolas Ghesquière, truly embodies the unique Parisian chic of this new fragrance." Will the new fragrance have "unique Parisian chic"? Or will it remain a visual manifesto more than a nose-trip, pardon the expression?
The introduction of a new fragrance rather than the re-introduction of the illustrious specimens in the archives probably heralds the definitive death toll on the classic fragrant line-up (Le Dix, Ho Hang for men, Prelude, Quadrille, Michelle...): They were discontinued and hard to find anyway, but I doubt they will resurge under the Coty label with any aspirations as to preserving their soul. The latest IFRA restrictions do not help along either, as does not the cost effectiveness of bean counters at headquarters (Michelle from 1979 for example has a ginormous tuberose and rose heart that far exceeds the naturals ratio sanctioned today with an oakmoss and sandlwood base to scare horses, more of which later; it's supreme! ) That only leaves Cristobal, Talisman, Rumba and their respective flankers out. Which is sad...
Clip originally uploaded by unnouveauideal on Youtube