Dior likes to focus its modern fragrance collection on seductive scents, and the latest addition, Dior Poison Girl, is no exception. Described as a “bittersweet floral” (though it’s more sweet than bitter), Poison Girl aims to reach newer, younger consumers with accessible, gourmand notes and a message of finding empowerment through ownership of one’s sexuality and seductiveness. Fashionista sat down with François Demachy, Dior’s Perfumer-Creator and the nose behind the newest scent (as well as many others) in New York City on Tuesday to find out what sets the new juice apart from others.
Demachy is quick to caution against lumping Poison Girl in with preconceived notions of gourmand scents — which generally refers to scents derived from sweet, edible things. “One needs to be careful, because the term ‘gourmand’ is sometimes used incorrectly. [In this case], we’re talking about notes of red fruits and also a side that’s kind of like caramel, cotton candy or even licorice. Gourmand notes can sometimes have an unsophisticated side to them, so we needed to find a way to bring together these gourmand notes — which are heavy, but which are important in perfume-making these days — and floral notes which are essential for Dior perfumes.” To accomplish that, Demachy drew inspiration from candied Grasse Rose petals (he urged me to taste one for myself during our interview), and then offset those sweet, floral notes with sharper, more citrusy ones from neroli, bitter orange and bergamot. And then the base notes are where that sense of seduction really comes through, according to Demachy. “The bottom notes — vanilla and tonka bean — rely on a side that’s sensual, comfortable and soft.”
When asked how he continues to develop new, different scents that round out Dior’s perfume offerings, Demachy shrugs it off. “It’s like music; there are not very many notes, so you have to build and rearrange them,” he says, but he also credits input from Dior’s marketing and development teams. “There are many exchanges, there’s a lot of back and forth when we work together,” he says. The imagery and messages of Dior Poison Girl are overtly youthful, and Dior is looking to market this new scent to a younger consumer base. One way is through price: the brand is launching a $60 one-ounce bottle (exclusive to Sephora), along with the larger $78 and $100 options. Dior is also placing greater importance on digital marketing, having allocated 60 percent of its ad spend to digital, according to WWD.
Like any aspect of fashion or beauty, there’s also a certain element of what’s trending on a global scale. “I think that [gourmand scents are] a very deep trend that’s existed for 10 to 15 years,” says Demachy. “[Gourmand fragrances] are easily accessible, comfortable and immediate. The thing about this trend is that this is something that is pleasing to all young people everywhere in the world.” Demachy’s goal was to do it in a more “chic, elegant” way.
It’s also versatile, as Demachy feels the idea of a woman only wearing certain perfumes for certain activities is outdated. “I don’t think that there are any hard and fast rules when it comes to perfume. We aren’t the ones who make these choices; it’s up to women to make these choices,” he says. “It’s a personal choice and it’s like your internal activist saying, ‘this is what I’m doing for myself, to feel good…. It’s a perfume that is outgoing, is fairly sensual, it’s a perfume that exists on its own terms, like the ladies of today.” If that sounds like Demachy is equating wearing perfume with an act of quiet feminism, that’s because he is. “Women live that way now. Women no longer need to be in a position of demanding their rights, they live their lives and are self-fulfilled that way. They no longer have to endure their sexuality, they’re the masters of it.”
Indeed, the seductive-yet-feminist vibes were in full force at an event Tuesday night to celebrate the launch of the new fragrance; Dior transformed a lower Manhattan club into its own “Poison Club” and hosted editors, models and other fashion activists/cool-girls du jour (Cleo Wade, Keke Palmer, Margaret Zhang, the like). Model Camille Rowe, the face of the new scent, drove home the feminist overtones by wearing Dior’s iconic “We Should All Be Feminists” T-shirt from Maria Grazia Chiuiri’s much-buzzed-about, female-empowerment-themed debut collection for the house.