Harvey Nichols is not often, so far as we’re aware, full of inflatable animals and neon striped blow-up letters of the alphabet. But the slightly surreal and unashamedly playful surroundings make perfect sense when revealed as a pop-up shop to showcase the first three fragrances of Karen Walker‘s collection.
Doyenne of all things chic with a quirky edge, fashion maven Karen Walker proved there are infinite choices of accessories to wear, ways of complimenting your outfit or showing subtle clues as to your inner character – but the most powerful of all just happens to be invisible…
‘I’ve always wanted to create a range of fragrances and I’m thrilled with this trio. The three different scents allow the Karen Walker woman to have a scent for any mood, any day, any time and any occasion.’
Named by The Business of Fashion as one of the top 500 most influential people shaping the global fashion industry, the trio of eau de parfums are the latest addition to the world of Karen Walker – a planet already populated by her chic-meets-eccentric ready-to-wear clothing, eyewear, fine jewellery and home-wares.
Quirky she may be, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Karen took her finger off the pulse of this fragrance project for a second – a perfectionist with an eye for minute details, Karen travelled to Grasse to seek out one of the oldest perfume houses in the world – Charabot, established in 1799.
For the bottles – wanting to have ‘generous cubes of light’ – she sought out Pochet du Courval, founded in 1623. Collaborating with almost four centuries of experience, and bringing her effervescent enthusiasm and innate sense of offbeat style to the project – for Karen, these partnerships were the perfect combination of traditional craft fused with a modern attitude.
‘A is the happiness potion. It’s sparkly, bright, herbal and fresh.
A is a refreshing, fruity floral with top notes of cassis, crushed mint leaves and grapefruit, heart notes of rose, lily of the valley, green tea and ylang ylang, on a solar musk base.’
‘B is feminine and efflorescent. It’s lush, ripe, and delicious.
B is a delicious floral gourmand with top notes of bergamot, pink pepper, and grapefruit, heart notes of iris, white rose, peach and Sambac Jasmine, and base notes of patchouli, praline, tonka bean, musk and vanilla.’
‘C is addictive. It’s compelling, opulent and generous.
C is a creamy, sensual floral with top notes of gardenia, magnolia, mandarin and bergamot, heart notes of tuberose, orange flower, Sambac Jasmine and lily of the valley, and base notes of sandalwood, amber, musk, and cashmere wood.’
At The Perfume Society we always love a chance to meet a fellow fragrance fanatic, and were so happy when Karen took the time to chat to us about her five (well, nearly five) all-time favourite smells…
1: ‘A brand new paperback – the kind of book that smells so good, when you open it you just have to stick your nose right down the spine! It’s unlike anything else.
2: Cat’s tummies. We’re between cats at the moment but our neighbour’s Burmese has practically moved in to our place, so I still manage to get my cat tummy fix.
3: Frangipani flowers – which we don’t actually have in any of the fragrances so far, but which I assure you are going to appear. They take me right back to childhood – you know, I live in the South Pacific, so they remind me of Fiji. You get off the plane and the air is just full of it, but they really bloom their best at dusk – it’s completely intoxicating.
4: Baking – I just love it when that smell fills the whole house, and I happen to be a good baker, so it’s something that occurs quite often. It’s that moment when you’ve been baking all day and you go out and come back, and you smell it properly, and go “oh my god, my house is delicious! I created this!”
5: Um… Oh goodness. Well, I’m just so caught up in those four smells – which really define my life – that I am completely stumped to think of a fifth. Sorry! I’ll have to stick at four…’
Karen throws her head back and laughs at being unable to think of a fifth favourite on the spot. She’s the perfect advert for her whole range – an attractive and obviously confident woman with a dry sense of humour, who never takes herself too seriously yet is very serious about what she creates. Clutching my inflatable bunny rabbit (not a phrase I can claim to have used, previously), I swaggered out of Harvey Nichols doused in the ‘C’ fragrance – wishing I had the height and looks of Karen herself, but feeling I had a certain amount of ‘chic-meets-eccentric’ going on; and let me tell you – I carried off that inflatable rabbit really well…
Karen Walker ABC, from £65 for 50ml eau de parfum
Try them at Harvey Nichols
Written by Suzy Nightingale