Jason Wu shares the story behind his first fragrance

We spoke exclusively to the fashion designer

A fashion designer’s first foray into beauty is usually fragrance, as it is the perfect medium to embody their signature style through a palette of cleverly-layered notes. So when Jason Wu’s fragrance first arrived in Australia, and landed on our desk, we were curious to discover its composition and see how it would epitomise his feminine and sophisticated fashion. Would it be light and airy to echo Wu’s frequent use of gorgeous fabrics like silk and tulle, or would it be bold and sparkling to illustrate the jewel tones that Wu famously features in his collections?

It turns out, the floral and woody fragrance is a bit of both. The opening notes of pink pepper and fig evoke freshness, while the base note of musk keeps the fragrance wearable for all ages. However, the shining star is the addition of jasmine sambac, which comes through after the top notes wear down.

Wu himself recently visited down under and we had a special opportunity to sit down for a chat with him. Here, the designer reveals all about his inspiration behind his first fragrance.

On why jasmine is a prominent note in his fragrance…
“I grew up in Taiwan, so jasmine’s quite common there. I grew up in a community right outside of Taipei where there’s a lot of green and my dad has a big garden, he’s an avid gardener. So I remember the scent from when I was little because I used to pick those flowers. I have a lot of memories of flowers. Every single one of my collections has a floral print of some sort and it’s where I find a lot of inspiration. Naturally, I was like, ‘I’m doing floral for my first fragrance’.”

Jason Wu EDP

On the fragrance creation process…
“I’m a very decisive person and also it was just me and the perfumer, Frank Vogel, involved. So it was never about trying to please everybody, it was about doing something that felt right. You know, in today’s age, everything is so formula driven and so marketing driven that I think the beauty of something like this is that it’s coming from me. We went through probably 100-150 different kinds of smells. Not just floral - woods to fruit to flowers to leather even. When I smelt the jasmine, it kind of just took me back but I hadn’t really remembered it because I don’t smell jasmine all the time.”

On developing the fragrance…
“We decided on the fragrance within a month. I wore different versions on myself every day and on the girls in the office. It was kind of based on intuition. I just felt that it was ready. If it had taken four months, it would have taken four months. I didn’t have to go through any red tape or corporate approval. It was nothing.”

On why he used Lily Aldridge in his campaign…
“Lily and I met many, many years ago through the Met Ball and we stayed in touch the whole time. When the campaign came up I was thinking who would embody the ‘Jason Wu woman’. I think she has to be – we started out as an American brand and as an all-American beauty – something who felt elegant but charismatic but sophisticated and feminine at the same time.

[Lily] embodied that. She feels really sophisticated but we’ve seen her really va-voom. She’s usually quite dressed-up and is very glamorous and for the campaign I wanted to show a natural side of Lily. It’s quite pure: you know, you saw the freckles and everything. She gives me a modern Bianca Jagger.”

On the design of his bottle…
“Andre Malone, who’s an architect and someone that I work with often, designed the bottle. We’re both lovers of mid-century modern furniture so there’s a lot of mid-century inspiration; o it’s very simple in shape. But the art of this bottle is all about the thickness of the glass and the circumference of everything. The whole bottle is smooth – usually you’ll see the mold lines on the bottom of the glass and we don’t have that. I wanted it to feel like crystal and then the gold. The circle has always been a significant shape for me because the ‘O’ in Jason was a perfect circle. That’s kind of how all of this came about – it’s about the interactions of two very simple shapes – and the quality, a metal cap that you don’t really see so much in fragrance, a lot of it is plated plastic. I wanted the bottle to feel really quality.”

On the types of fragrance he likes to wear…
“I love light fragrances. Any sort of citrus, and I’m into cedars and woodier smells right now. Cedar is another wood that I grew up with. We use cedar wood with all our Chinese furniture. I remember the smell so I tend to gravitate towards smells I was brought up being familiar with.”

On his favourite beauty products to travel with…
“I fly a lot so I don’t care if people look at me, I will do a full face mask on the plane. I do it because you get really dry skin on a plane, especially on a flight that’s 10 hours or more. I also do a Japanese warming eye mask on the plane; it self-activates when you open the packet and then you just put it on. It creates steam between you and the mask from that warmth. You put it on for 15 minutes and it refreshes your eyes.”

On his favourite beauty products…
A Clarisonic is the only way [to wash your face]. You have to do that at the end of the day. I’m a fiend for SK-II. I also like the Caudalie spray and my Kiehl’s balm in a tube.

"I just love everything about beauty in terms of philosophy, the experience and I think it’s something that feels quite luxurious. It’s about how you feel, like when you have the right regimen and you feel great, it’s the best feeling."

On whether he would expand his beauty offering…
I would love to do [lifestyle products] and that’s really the direction that I’m headed. I celebrated my 10th anniversary last year and these next 10 years I want to really branch out and this is actually the first major move. Jason Wu-only projects, not a collaboration; I’m already working on more.

 

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Iantha is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty Editor, and has been part of the team since the site launched in 2016. Besides pinot noir, she has a healthy obsession with fake tan smell, wispy false lashes and CND Shellac in the shade Romantique. Her words and styling can also be found in previous issues of SHOP Til You Drop, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health.