The two collaborators talk scent, family, and what perfect means to them
Fragrance has always been an indicator of what’s going on in contemporary culture. The big hair and even bigger shoulder pads of the decadent 1980s were accompanied by rich, heady scents – think Poison by Dior – while the stripped back, androgynous aesthetic of the 90s was epitomised by Calvin Klein’s CK One: a clean, sheer, unisex scent that was minimal and effortless.
Now, in a moment when we are celebrating fluidity of identity, inclusivity, and self-love, Marc Jacobs has come out with a new scent informed by its time and it is here to remind you that you are perfect, just as you are.
‘Perfect’ the fresh, playful new offering from Marc Jacobs takes its name from a word that has long been a mantra for the designer, in fact he even has it tattooed on the inside of his wrist. “It’s a constant reminder that I’m good enough,” he tells Dazed Beauty over Zoom between puffs of his vape pen, decked out in his signature pearls. “Whatever I do and however I am and however I choose to present myself, I am perfect as I am.”
This message of self-acceptance underpins the whole story of the scent, from its name to the campaign shot by Juergen Teller which features 43 models whose faces and experiences reflect the diversity of life found on the vibrant streets of New York City, from those scouted through open social media casting calls to models like Alek Wek, Lila Moss, and Isold Halldorudottir. “Perfect isn’t about one thing, it’s about the inclusion of everything,” Jacobs says. “We asked everyone in the cast ‘what does perfect mean to you’ and a lot of them said perfect wasn’t ‘perfectionism.’ It has nothing to do with reaching this idea of aspiring to be perfect. It means that I am perfect – me as I am, as I present myself to you. The choices that I make and my journey, my experiences, they’re all exactly the way it was supposed to be and I’m living proof of that.”
Housed in a bottle topped with talismanic charms (a banana, a domino, a little shoe, a star), Perfect is a floral scent with notes of rhubarb and daffodil as well as almond milk and warm cedar. Compared to the “sweet, fresh hope and innocence” of Daisy and the darker side of Decadence, Jacobs says Perfect has a ‘come as you are’ charm. “Whatever it is that I’m bringing you, is what it is,” he laughs. For Moss, who has been the face of Marc Jacobs Beauty since 2018, the fragrance is unique and youthful. “It makes me feel confident and just happy,” she tells us from her London home over Zoom. “I think it's really cute, the bottle especially with all the different charms. It's just very playful and colourful.”
The 17-year-old former Dazed cover star has been a fan of Marc Jacobs fragrances since falling in love with a bottle of Daisy given to her as a young teen by her mum, Kate Moss, although Perfect is now the scent that defines her, she tells us. She dates her love of floral scents far earlier than that, however – back to the womb, in fact. “My mum used to mix rose and ylang ylang together when she was pregnant with me,” she says. “So now whenever I smell it, it's like very familiar and comforting. We also have a jasmine plant next to our front door and that smell always reminds me of going home and just being home.”
These relationships between scent, between Lila and her mother, and between Marc and Kate, have all contributed to the story that Jacobs wants to tell with this fragrance and through his brand as a whole. “What’s perfect to me about Lila is my relationship to her family,” he says. “I find relationships and loyalty very much a part of what Marc Jacobs as a brand is about. I like the evolution of my story with Juergen and my story with Kate. When we shot Lila for the beauty campaign, Kate came in and was like ‘can you believe that now I’m the stage mother bringing Lila to her first shoot?’” It was the same when Cindy Crawford turned up with daughter Kaia Gerber for her Daisy shoot, he says, laughingly calling it ‘herstory.’ “I like having these attachments, they feel more credible and authentic to me and my evolution and the brand and its evolution. So I really love the closeness that I feel to the subjects that we shoot.”
When it comes to the fragrance itself, Jacobs says he feels strongly that the ritual of application and self-care is just as important as the scent. It’s a moment of stillness and peace when you can ready yourself and reflect on how you want to express yourself. “The idea of fragrance, the idea of beauty, the idea of fashion – I find them essential,” he says. “I can contribute to the good of the world and I can be a creative, caring individual if I take care of myself and part of that self-care comes from making those choices. So I think it’s an indulgence and it's not a necessity but it is essential in a way and I like being a part of that essential palette of choices that are available to people.”
His wish for Perfect? “My hope would be that it becomes this love for someone and a wonderful part of their daily ritual.”
LILA MOSS’S 5 PERFECT THINGS
Perfect day… Right now I just can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so I can go and dance with my friends and just laugh with my friends. Definitely like a warm sunny day, eating my favourite foods with my favourite people.
Perfect song… “Wild World” by Cat Stevens. It’s such a good song for a car journey or when you’re going on an adventure. It’s a really good sing-along song as well.
Perfect film… I love watching horror films with my friends. We’re always just clinging onto each other and screaming and then laughing about how we are screaming! I like psychological thrillers and ghost ones and true stories like The Conjuring. It’s really exciting when it’s a true story.
Perfect gift… Something thoughtful that you know the person will cherish and keep forever.
Perfect smell… A very floral scent with a youthful quality – just like Perfect!
Perfect is available now at The Perfume Shop