As New York Fashion Week continues its long sashay into cultural event status, it comes as a matter of course that the clothes themselves are taking up less of the spotlight in lieu of stunts, album releases, new model debuts and other such hyped up ephemera.
Take for instance the three beauty launches that occurred last week, namely, the release of Gucci’s much-anticipated fragrance, Tom Ford’s new perfume and singer Rihanna’s makeup range. All three represent offerings from high-profile creatives at the top of their game.
Years from now, the fashion house Gucci will be known by two eras: pre Alessandro Michele, and post Alessandro Michele. Though Gucci has been through many incarnations over its 96-year existence – and all of them sexy! – none has been so colourful, so unabashedly extra as Michele’s vision for the house. It’s as if Wes Anderson popped some LSD, and picked up a crystal rhinestone applicator gun, with all the sparkling millennial pink and fondant yellow and aliens with their sunglasses searching for cows in the wilderness.
Since Michele stepped up as creative director in January 2015, Gucci’s signature opulent mishmash of flowers, insects, ruffles, bows and stripes on everything from sneakers to capes is everywhere on the high street, (and on every flaming hot celebrity from Nicole Kidman to Gwyneth Paltrow to Jared Leto).
So you can imagine that the fashion world was waiting, noses forward, for the arrival of Michele’s first scent for Gucci. Named Gucci Bloom, Michele launched it in a garden in the middle of Times Square two months ago, then had a wall in Milan painted in its honour earlier this month. But it only became available to us last week. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. The smell is floral and fresh but with that wild base note you’d expect from the guy who wore a skirt and a blazer-cheongsam hybrid to the Met Ball.
Speaking of balls, Tom Ford’s seen and done them all – from fashion house reinvention to movies – and he’s done it with impeccable, if highly controversial, panache.
Who could forget those Gucci ads from 2003 where the fashion emblem was shaved into a model’s pubic hair? Or the Tom Ford for Men fragrance ad 10 years later that featured a naked woman with her legs spread, the perfume bottle just barely concealing her genitals? With these campaigns in our collective memory, Ford’s latest fragrance – which he released alongside his spring summer 18 collection on September 6, seems almost tame in comparison.
It’s called F—ing Fabulous and it reportedly smells like vanilla, bitter almond, amber, oriental leather and lavender. Basically, it’s the perfume equivalent of a hot, (highly sexual) mess, although you’d never guess that from the perfectly minimalist black bottle.
“Unfortunately, we have no plans to sell this fragrance in Australia at the moment,” is how Sarah Maher, PR for Tom Ford Beauty, gently breaks it to me. “[But] the fragrance is exclusive to Tom Ford international boutiques worldwide.”
On the bright side, it’s over $US495, (that’s $614) so you might look at it as a cost-saving exercise.
Meanwhile, another genre-hopping genius who straddles fashion, music and philanthropy with equal aplomb, Rihanna, debuted her makeup collection, Fenty Beauty, on Friday. Based on the concept of the Fenty Face, (and no doubt influenced by Instagram) Rihanna nixed the usual eye, lip and brow paraphernalia to focus on skin with just one product for lips.
The range, which consists of a primer, foundation, concealer, highlighter, contour “skin stick”, a lip lacquer called “Gloss Bomb” and a handful of brushes, is designed, in the words of Rihanna, to produce “killer radiance”. Which is frankly the greatest descriptor of Rihanna as anyone I’ve ever heard of.
Released in 1600 stores across 17 countries, Rihanna’s aim was to create an ultra-inclusive makeup line. “I was like, there needs to be something for a dark-skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl …” is how she explained the reasoning behind the ground-breaking 40 different shades in her collection.
“There’s red undertones, there’s blue undertones, there’s pink undertones, there’s yellow … you want people to appreciate the product and not feel like “aw that’s cute, but it only looks good on her,” she told Refinery29 at the launch in Brooklyn, while wearing an Oscar de la Renta yellow ball gown skirt and matching long sleeved T-shirt sans bra. In other words, it was classic Rihanna.
Indeed, whatever may be said of the three trailblazers during this heady moment known as #NewYorkFashionWeek, one thing is clear: they are all stridently, successfully themselves.
Fenty Beauty now available at Sephora
Gucci Bloom 30ml $105; 50ml $140. For stockists call 1800 812 663