A conversation with the actor and fashion icon on her new Régime des Fleurs perfume, her favorite California scent memories and more
Words by CHANDLER BURR
Years ago, in Los Angeles, a young Chloë Sevigny met a high school student name Ezra Woods at Bergamot Station, the collection of art galleries in Santa Monica. Woods and Sevigny were looking at the art, and they became friends. They met one of L.A.’s refugees from New York, Alia Raza — formerly of the suburbs of Buffalo; an artist, filmmaker, writer, director and fabulous dress wearer — and clicked over mutual interests. Woods designed Sevigny’s red carpet looks; Raza filmed her.
In 2014, Raza and Woods’ restless artistic interests took them to scent, and they founded their luxury fragrance line, Régime des Fleurs, with Fait Main, a collection of avant-garde perfumes crafted using raw ingredients. They learned perfume by doing perfume — handmaking the fragrances and bottling them in vessels that they painted themselves. “It was,” Raza says, smoothing her see-through-netting, black polka-dotted retro ’50s dress, “completely unsustainable.”
“We’re not businesspeople,” Woods adds. “We’re learning to be businesspeople.”
Two years later, the pair added a degree of sustainability and business to their passion project by creating niche (but not hand-painted) eau de parfums inspired by the botanical kingdom. Recently, Raza and Woods teamed up with Sevigny — the three had talked about perfume for years — who creative-directed a new perfume for them called Little Flower. It is a contemporary work on the theme of a rose, and it is utterly lovely.
Little Flower opens for the first few minutes, depending on the weather, with chilled chemical green or chemical spice, bracing and quietly thrilling, then goes into a gentle linear rose. Sevigny, Raza and Woods worked with perfumer Jérome Epinette, an extraordinary and brilliant artistic chameleon who can create in any style. This perfume edges toward simple realism but stops just short of that, with a subtle, intentional artificiality of the constructed scent of cosmetics (foundation and lipstick). Its aesthetics are very much of the contemporary California school.
At a recent event at Dover Street Market Los Angeles, Sevigny — seen earlier this year in Jim Jarmusch’s film The Dead Don’t Die, Hulu’s The Act and Netflix’s Russian Doll — signed bottles of the exquisite fragrance and indulged a Proustian survey involving some of her favorite (and not so favorite) scents of record.
Why a rose fragrance?
My first perfume at age 5 was rose. My mom gave it to me. I think it was a children’s perfume. I started a perfume bottle collection from when I was very young, by the way. I loved the Comme des Garçons Rose. I wore it all the time. It’s gone now. So I figured I had to make something to replace it.
Earliest scent memory?
Cut grass. [Shrugs.] You know, the suburbs.
Your favorite fabric?
Boiled wool. Boiled wool keeps you warm, keeps you cool, and it has that distinct odor when it gets wet. Sturdy New England. [Sevigny grew up in Darien, Conn.]
What smell do you hate that you’re supposed to love?
Honestly, the original Chloé perfume that everyone wore.
What smell do you love that you’re supposed to hate?
Can I say body odor? I like a man when he’s stinky.
Your favorite scent for a massage?
Lavender. I like a light, calming massage.
Incense or smoke?
Smoke. Wood-burning stoves, bonfires.
Desert or forest?
Ocean or desert?
The smell of jet fuel, yes or no?
No. It’s the guilt I feel about the amount of flying I do, which is terrible. I absolutely think of myself as an environmentalist, but how can I say that with this much flying? But I do. But I feel incredibly guilty.
Do you prefer the smell of Europe or Asia?
I think Europe, because I tend to spend more time in nature when I’m in Europe.
The smell of fog in London or Aspen?
I’ve never been to Aspen, but I’m going with America. I’m American. So American fog.
Give us your two scents: your favorite and the one you hate the most?
Favorite: strawberries. Most hated: New York in the summer when it hasn’t rained for weeks. It involves animals.
Feature image: RÉGIME DES FLEURS Chloë Sevigny Little Flower, $205/100 mL.
Sept. 11, 2019
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