Exclusive: Olfactory insights with perfumer Louise Turner, creator of Carolina Herrera's Good Girl
"If it was too easy it'd be very boring..."
Luxury label Carolina Herrera is renowned for its long history of iconic fragrances, from the first and original titular perfume to the 212. With its latest launch, Good Girl, the brand looks set to continue its unique olfactory heritage and tradition. A large part of the success of the new fragrance can be attributed to master perfumer Louise Turner and Buro 24/7 Middle East sits down exclusively with the fragrance expert to talk scents and trends.
Good Girl is marketed as feminine yet powerful. How does that translate into scents?
Good Girl is based around this idea of duality, a contrast between light and dark. For me light comes before darkness so I started with a white floral bouquet built around jasmine sambac and tuberose. White florals signify purity, light and femininity while tuberose is a very emblematic flower for the Carolina Herrera brand. Obviously there is no light without darkness and I was inspired by a quote by Carolina Herrera where she said 'mystery is the most important quality a woman could possess'. So I think Good Girl reveals her dark side in a deep and sensual manner through an addictive blend of roasted beans.
The end product is a fragrance that is inherently feminine yet very powerful and addictive. It is unique, has a mysterious trail and extremely multi-faceted whereby you will discover something new each time you wear it. It is also an assertive fragrance and it wants to be noticed but at the same time stays intuitive and easy to appropriate.
The perfume took two years to finish. What are some of the challenges that contributed to this relatively long process?
It's always a challenge to take an idea from the start to the end but at the same time I think that is good because if it was too easy it'd be very boring. Two years is probably longer than usual but launching a fragrance today is a very big investment. It's not just the fragrance; it's the name, the bottle, the positioning and concept and everything has to work together. It's not just a perfume anymore. The stiletto bottle, which took longer to develop than the fragrance itself, is absolutely fantastic and it embodies that whole concept. It is the ultimate symbol of femininity but still being a powerful woman as well. In terms of innovation and the technical difficulty of producing a bottle like this, there is nothing else in the market like it.
What is your opinion about the campaign?
I think Karlie Kloss is fantastic. She totally embodies femininity plus she's got a physique that completely goes with this idea of Good Girl and how it's good to be me and that ultimate signal of a powerful woman who is sure of herself. The video campaign is really strong. It's a very powerful clip and I think it's kind of quirky and not too serious. Perfumes need to be fun as well. I suppose it's the whole idea of duality; being powerful and feminine but not taking yourself too seriously at the same time.
You mentioned that fragrances have to be fun. Traditional perfume campaigns tend to be sensual and provocative and then you see Kenzo doing something drastically different and edgy with its latest offering. Do you see a shift in trend there?
What Kenzo has done is really interesting. I think it's good to have things that are different and it pushes back the boundaries. As to whether I think the trend will catch on, that remains to be seen but we do need people to break barriers. For me their ad campaign is more concept-focused and personally I think that if you want to break barriers, you would need to do it on all fronts, without creating a fragrance that's a little conservative yet push boundaries in terms of its concept. You need to do both at once otherwise people get confused. I hope it does work for them but I've got a question mark on it.
On a wider scale, do you see a danger of fragrances becoming too generic due to globalisation and interchanging influences?
I don't like globalisation. I think it's ridiculous. I believe it's good to have differentiation and different places liking different things. For instance oud was everywhere because it was almost fashionable. Globalisation is good in terms of exchange but having fragrances that are global should not be the way and you need to be more targeted.
What will the next big trend in fragrance be?
I think there is no doubt that power remains key yet fragrances are cyclic as well. For example, recently we have had fragrances which are very gourmand that is very sweet and sugary but perhaps woodiness will come back. Masculine fragrances seem to suffer less from a fashion aspect and generally defined by contrasts; whether it's freshness or warmth, Oriental or woody, whereas the feminine market is certainly wider and more varied.
What are your thoughts on unisex fragrances then?
It does not hit one or the other. The difficulty is, today when we market something, you're always targeting an image and a concept. If you have a unisex fragrance you're already in no man's land and the problem would be how to market it. Calvin Klein obviously managed it but it's a really tough concept. I think some brands try to position their fragrances in a way that does not define it as masculine or feminine, which I believe is a better way of doing it rather than saying it's unisex.
Final question. If you weren't the master perfumer you are now, what do you think you would be doing?
Well, it's something completely different. I really like animals and I probably would have opened an animal sanctuary.