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Harry Styles for Another Man 23
Harry Styles for Another Man 23Photography Alasdair McLellan, Styling Alister Mackie

The secrets behind Harry Styles’ new Pleasing fragrances

Co-creative directors Harry Lambert and Molly Hawkins speak to Dazed about the trio of scents and debunk the idea that they are inspired by sex

Two years ago, almost to the day, Harry Styles launched the news of his beauty and apparel line Pleasing in his cover interview for Dazed. Debuting with a set of nail polishes, a serum, and a lip and eye ‘pen’, the brand’s mission statement was to bring joyful experiences and products that excite the senses to Styles’ loyal fans. “I’ve always found that the moments in my life which have brought me the most joy are the small ones,” he told Dazed at the time. “I really think that the essence of Pleasing is finding those little moments of joy and showing them to people.”

Since then, Pleasing has expanded its offerings, branching out into make-up and bodycare, while always remaining true to its playful, experience-led approach – a psychedelic, mushroom-theme collection saw a 74-year-old Mick Fleetwood star as the face of the campaign. And now the brand has broached its next frontier, fragrance, with a trio of eau de parfums inspired by a series of warm, joyous moments and housed in chic, rounded bottles that gently rock back and forth. There’s ‘Closeness’ which recalls the evening after a long warm day and “skin pressed against skin”; ‘Bright, Hot’, described as basking in the hot sun; and ‘Rivulets’, a “delightful encounter with a stranger… floating like tiny specks caught dancing in the slanting light.”

“I was really surprised when I smelled them for the first time – they have a lot of depth and emotional resonance that I wasn’t expecting because it’s not very on-trend,” says Molly Hawkins who, alongside Styles’ long-time stylist Harry Lambert, holds the role of creative director at Pleasing. The fragrances themselves were a collaboration between Styles and Jérôme Epinette – the nose behind scents like Byredo’s Sundazed and Off-White’s Solution No 2 – alongside fragrance house Robertet.

While One Direction had a slew of perfumes in its heyday and Styles has previously been the face of Gucci’s Mémoire d’une Odeur fragrance, which he described as smelling like “Joan Didion’s house”, this is the first time he’s truly had a hand in the creative process of a scent. It’s welcome news for fans who have long yearned to smell like the star, selling out dupes of his once signature scent Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille.

After a back and forth process between him and Epinette, going through “dozens of iterations” of scents, the pair landed on the final three. Hawkins and Lambert then brought their magic touch to the visuals and packaging, which stay true to the brand’s elevated nostalgic aesthetic. “I quickly realised the fragrances are expressive and we should apply the same process we use when working on music to tease out their stories and visual identities,” Hawkins says.

Here the two spoke to Dazed about their creative process, favourite fragrance and why it’s a misconception that the collection is “sex-inspired”.

Harry Styles is known for his influence when it comes to fragrance, but this is the first time he’s putting his own name to a scent. Why was now a good time to launch a fragrance?

Harry Lambert: Pleasing is coming up to its two-year anniversary and while we are taking our time to evolve the world of Pleasing this feels like the right time to release something new and exciting. For me, this is my favourite product we have developed, the non-labelling of the bottle, the rocking which brings life to it, the colour play on the packaging, I am so, so proud of these three rocking bottles.

What was exciting is that the fragrance results were a surprise, this is something HS worked on with Jérôme and they have truly come from their combined collaboration. Then Molly and the team and I got to create visuals and packaging for those scents from Harry’s inspirations and memories. Harry does have great influence and what an exciting thing it is to experience something that he has dreamt of. 

Before they launched, the fragrances were widely reported as being ‘sex-inspired’, but actually they seem to be more about warmth and closeness. Can you tell us a bit about what you see as being the concept behind the fragrance?

Molly Hawkins: The ‘sex-inspired’ narrative came from a tabloid reacting to the copy on our sample cards that customers were receiving early on, before any announcements were made and I can see why; people often confuse a sensual experience with a sexual one (and of course they are often intertwined). These fragrances to me are not about sex but more about time and how memory distorts one’s senses. I really agree with your assessment, actually that they’re more about warmth and closeness.

When smelling the fragrances we began to imagine one long day. When you smell ‘Bright, Hot’ where is the sun in the sky? What do you see when you open your eyes smelling ‘Rivulets’? How does your skin feel when you smell ‘Closeness’? In fact we were asking and answering these questions as we were naming the fragrances and designing the bottles, so the story is told with every part of the experience of the fragrance.

The design and campaign of the scents plays with nostalgia and the elevated seventies style that Harry and the brand has become known for. Why is that an aesthetic that continues to inspire you and that you keep going back to? 

Molly Hawkins: We love storytelling and perspective so we always work with photographers who excite us and who’s work speaks to the product we’re working on. Grant Spanier for example shot the fragrance campaign. He has an edge to him while still luxuriating in colour and texture that is challenging and inspiring to me.

Rather than emulating a specific era, we try to capture contemporary characters in a way that feels timeless, meant to last.

Do you have a personal favourite and what scenario does it remind you of?

Harry Lambert: My favourite is ‘Bright, Hot’. I have been secretly wearing it for a while as a test run and now it feels part of me. ‘Bright, Hot’ reminds me of friends, an intimate dinner, getting dressed up to sit in the corner of a dark restaurant and spend hours gossiping and eating..