It’s no secret – scent is our strongest sense, it’s our mind’s way of storytelling. In this time of isolation, a single smell is all that’s needed to unleash memories transporting one to their favorite places, moments, or even places they’ve never been. However, it’s the linkage between the two that engrains itself in our memory to create that olfactory journey.
“It starts with an idea,” said Oribe President and Co-Founder Daniel Kaner on developing the brand’s first-ever fragrance collection. “Sometimes it’s not just the smelling, sometimes it’s the sense of place, sometimes it takes the experience combined with a sense of place.” Kaner sits on the other end of a Zoom call from his studio in Connecticut flipping slowly through the pages of his expertly curated travel journals depicting some of the inspiration behind the scent-spiration for Oribe’s new collection.”There’s that sense of the overall experience and it starts to distill, and the experience starts to drive where the fragrance should go,” he explained.
Since the brand’s inception in 2008, fragrance has been an integral part of Oribe products. A smell test is of course necessary when buying hair care, however Oribe took things to the next level when customers fell head-over-heels in love with the classic Oribe hair care scent, so much so that they began demanding it. “As time went on, we noticed how the early fears [of starting a fragrance collection] should not have existed, when we started to move on with the journey, we kept hearing things about the fragrance,” said Kaner. “It’s almost the most perfect test where people are poking and saying “fragrance, fragrance” and you’re starting to hear it. It’s not driven by the marketing department, it’s not driven by the elders of the business, it’s driven by the demands. They kept asking, and that’s how we did it,” he said. “We knew, at the right time, that we would be able to share it with everyone.”
Ask and you shall receive. Oribe first tested the waters of the fragrance market with Côte d’Azur bottling up their signature hair care scent to wear beyond the bathtub. A notable favorite of Meghan Markle, the house’s trademark fragrance named after the iconic region nestled on the French Riviera introduced a globetrotting precedent to Oribe’s fragrances. The scent is clean yet rich and juicy where a citrus-y Calabrian bergamot melds with creamy sandalwood and notes of butterfly jasmine painting an image of grazing down the narrowed streets of Saint Tropez in the heat of summer. “Each fragrance was created to be unique on its own,” explained the perfume’s creator Adriana Medina who is Vice President Perfumer for Givaudan. “Côte d’Azur embodies glamour – it is clean but also warm and musky.”
Côte d’Azur’s successes gave the brand some pretty big shoes to fill. However the fragrance provided the starting blocks for brand’s two newest excursional fragrances: Desertland and Valley of Flowers. “Sometimes in hair care we’ll have, maybe 30, 40, even 50 iterations of something to get the performance, but for both fragrances, we got there relatively quickly because our general feelings were strong and we really collaborated together on this in a very uniform way,” said Kaner. For the brand’s new scents, Kaner and Medina disregarded the traditionally gendered way of presenting fragrance and chose to keep all three scents unisex. “We look at fragrance for people,” said Kaner. “We’re not saying overly feminine or overly masculine, we’re looking at interesting.”
Desertland’s ultra-green scent profile was inspired by Kaner’s trip to Marfa, Texas capturing the aromatic essence of the vast desert-scape in various settings. “It’s capturing this idea of the desert and the plants, and starting to look at the wildlife, at the sky, and feeling either the moisture or the dryness in the air – that starts to build a story in your mind,” he said. The scent’s instantly crisp and bright smell featuring a cocktail of Texan cedarwood, juniper berry, lavender, and pine is the kind of scent you’d ask what they’re wearing, it’s unique and complex without being overbearing. “Whether it’s going local or exploring around the world, [travel opens up] new opportunities and new experiences – we’re seeing different colors, we’re eating different foods, and we’re experiencing different customs. The more we do that, it expands how we see things or how we could see things.”
Finally, Valley of Flowers completes the trio as the brand’s floral component. “Valley of Flowers we had in our back pocket, we discovered something that we liked very much a long time ago, and like a good memory – we hung onto it,” said Kaner. Florals are a “big business”, except the brand wanted to differ the scent from the typical floral-based fragrance. The fragrances hits all the sweet spots of floral lovers with Bulgarian rose, jasmine petals, and peony blossoms come together with warm musk to put a modernized twist on your average floral. “The heart of Valley of Flowers is Bulgarian rose,” said Medina “[it’s] harvested in the morning in the months of May and June and quickly pressed to preserve its dewy, modern freshness.”
In terms of packaging, the fragrances’ fine French glass bottles are as unique as their contents. Inspired by post-modernist art and architecture, Oribe worked with Normandy-based glassmakers distinguished by the French government as a living heritage company to develop the sleek glass bottle. Additionally, each bottle has a unique one-of-a-kind resin cap with a design inspired by Viennese marble slabs. Bonus: the fragrances’ ultra-fine mister is one of those little details that did not go overlooked ensuring an even and luxurious product distribution on the skin.
For Kaner and the Oribe team, this new range of diverse fragrances offers up a little something for everyone all while extending the legacy of the late legendary hairstylist and Co-Founder Oribe Canales into the future. Kaner glows when he speaks of instilling Oribe’s larger-than-life persona into the fragrance. “”I want it to smell like cigarettes and sex” he’d say” laughed Kaner. “He would say – “the attention to detail, doing it right, focusing on quality, look at where it took us”. Because we took the time and care to develop the Côte d’Azur so well, it became a signature of the brand character and look where it led us on this journey. I think, without question, that Oribe would be over the moon,” he said.
For Kaner, not only does Oribe’s new fragrance collection tell the story of places we’ve only dreamt of, it also is another chapter in Oribe’s continued story. “As you develop as a business, you realize that there’s just never enough resources to put effort into things that aren’t going to enhance the story,” he said. “Every kind of cycle, we have this opportunity to kind of begin again and reintroduce ourselves. I hope [the fragrance] builds new bridges, and I hope it introduces us to new people, and I hope it gives us the opportunity to continue telling our story.”
Oribe’s Côte d’Azur, Desertland, and Valley of Flowers Eau de Parfum and Fragrance Experience trio set are available online now at oribe.com and will be offered at Oribe retailers on September 6.END
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