The Radical Power of Scent Meet the Game Changing New Fragrances from YSL Beauty
Fragrance has always had a rebellious streak, whether it’s a head-turning sillage or a bold perfume ad. In the era of COVID where our movement and travels are limited, perfume has the power to inspire, embolden and even whisk us away on an olfactive journey without ever having to leave our home. For Yves Saint Laurent, both fragrance and fashion have never been about playing by the rules. Whether it was the late fashion designer introducing the Le Smoking tuxedo suit into womenswear during the sixties or becoming a trailblazer in the world of women’s fragrance with the game-changing Opium in the seventies, YSL has always been about empowerment and the freedom of self-expression, whether through scent or style.
Almost five decades later, the French fashion house continues to defy convention with Libre Eau de Parfum, a new perfume for women (the word “Libre” means “free” in French). Launched in 2019, the scent is a play on the fougère category of fragrances, which was traditionally made for men. A classic fougère features fresh and woody notes of lavender along with other notes like geranium and bergamot.
Master perfumers Anna Flipo and Carlos Benaïm reimagined the traditionally masculine category by turning it into a perfume for women, not unlike how Yves Saint Laurent once refashioned the tuxedo for a female silhouette. Paris-based Flipo took the lavender scent, a signature note in fougère fragrances and highlighted its sweeter aspects. Meanwhile, Benaïm, who is located in New York, introduced a sensual orange blossom accord. Together, the perfumers worked across the Atlantic and took an idea that began in 2011 through 1,570 iterations until Libre was finally born. The finished scent is a study in cool contrasts, which includes notes of neroli, mandarin, vanilla and amber. It’s also a departure from your conventional fruity perfume and a bold take on a floral perfume.
The natural raw materials at the heart of the scent also help tell the story of the fragrance, thoughtfully and sustainably sourced from across the globe. The diva lavender heart is hand-harvested from the low mountain areas of Provence while lavandin, found in abundance in France, is carefully selected for its freshness. Meanwhile, vanilla bourbon is gathered via a community program in Madagascar, and the unique orange flower comes from Morocco, once home to the legendary fashion designer.
If Libre is Le Smoking in fragrance form, the perfume bottle also captures the fashion house’s androgynous spirit. It features the iconic YSL logo – designed and named after graphic designer Cassandre with its intertwined initials – which is flipped to its side to mirror the geometric lines of a tailored suit.
The newest Libre Eau de Parfum Intense, which launched this September, follows the same blueprint but amps up the contrast of what are considered traditionally masculine and feminine perfume notes. They also dialed up the concentration, which is reflected in the rich, caramel colour of the juice. Libre Intense is sexy, sophisticated and a long-lasting perfume with ample staying power.
During these unprecedented times when we’re limited in how we can express ourselves sartorially (let’s be honest, we’ve all swapped out statement pieces for WFH loungewear), there’s something incredibly freeing about being able to spritz a fragrance that makes you feel as powerful as when you put on a polished blazer or a killer boot.
A season of gifting
When it comes to ideas for gifts for women, a YSL fragrance is the perfect addition to any scent wardrobe. With the holidays approaching, Libre Eau de Parfum and Libre Eau de Parfum Intense make a great Christmas present idea with their beautiful couture-inspired bottles and a scent to match. Fragrance is incredibly personal and if you’re looking for birthday gift ideas for her, choose it for the friend or a loved one who you believe encapsulates the bold spirit of the scent – she’s daring, isn’t afraid to express herself and lives life unapologetically. A fragrance is an equally lovely gesture as a Valentine’s Day gift – a love note in scent form – whether it’s a gift for your girlfriend or the special person in your life.
Another reason why fragrance makes one of the best gifts for women is because it has the power to boost your mood and your confidence. Even if the year hasn’t turned out how any of us imagined, you can still live boldly through Libre.