Carol Lim and Humberto Leon on Kenzo's new fragrance

Carol Lim and Humberto Leon on Kenzo's new fragrance

Eye spy

Text: Renée Batchelor

If you've caught sight of the new Kenzo World fragrance, you'll know it's the brand's quirkiest one yet. Find out more from the creative duo behind the concept

Kenzo World is the newest scent from Kenzo to make a giant splash and it's no wonder. With a quirky-cool film by Spike Jonze, which we wrote about earlier, an iconic eye-shaped bottle, and a juice by Francis Kurkdjian, the fragrance has certainly broken conventional norms.

The scent is intoxicating and energetic with floral bursts, and notes of peony, Egyptian jasmine and Ambroxan — a synthetic note known for creating voluptuous sensuality. Kenzo World is very much a reflection of Kenzo's funky, new DNA as envisaged by its creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, who took over the brand in 2011. Read more on their thoughts on the scent and how they gathered their dream team to create this explosive, new offering.

The new fragrance was released six years after you were appointed creative directors of Kenzo in 2011. When did you start work on the new fragrance?
We had been talking with the team at Kenzo perfumes for a while after we arrived. The wheels really got in motion around three years ago. It was then that we met with the perfumer and began discussing names and what the bottle would look like.

What are your favourite fragrance or scents?
We both have different experiences with fragrances. Both of us have different olfactive memories based on when we grew up. There were lots of different smells in our houses either from the plants, flowers outside or even our parents cooking.

Humberto Leon: My earliest memory of perfume was Gendarme. It is still a scent that I use today.

Carole Lim: My earliest memory of perfume was the smell of essential oils that my mom used, like lavender, rose and other natural plants. 

Which parts of Kenzo fashion's identity are involved in the new fragrance, Kenzo World?
We like to think that we're giving people who have never experienced Kenzo fashion a good eye opener into what we do at the brand. The fragrance is young at heart, playful, sophisticated yet approachable.

How was working with Francis Kurkdjian?
It was amazing. He's so talented and really helped carve out our vision so well. We couldn't have asked for a better person.

The previous Kenzo perfumes are named after more lyrical themes like flowers, water, air, and love. What is the meaning behind ‘Kenzo World’?
It’s something that we feel represents the inclusiveness of the house. Even at the time of Kenzo Takada, the house was super democratic. We felt that calling it Kenzo World would incite the same ideals of a global view. It is a each individual's personal view and how they see the world that is interesting to us.

Spike Jonze, and Kenzo World’s bottle designer, Patrick Li, are close friends of yours. How do you guys know each other and what was it like working together?
We all have known each other for such a long time. It’s one of our favorite things when we get to work with people we know and admire so well. Both of them are geniuses in their respective fields and we were lucky that they were free to work on this project with us. Kenzo World

Which scene in the film did you like the most
It’s so hard for us to describe one moment of the film as its the sum of all parts that make the movie so special. We love the idea of this girl as everyone we know, dying to break out of her situation. It’s how we think many people feel in lots of situations. It’s instinctive to want to stray from the norm some times.

In an interview, you said “It’s a little bit of Parisian floral meets a California kind of freshness and everything in between”. Could you explain it more specifically?
We like that the perfume has dimension. It feels very rich and layered without being heavy.

At Kenzo World’s celebration in Paris, there were many celebrities in attendance including Bradley Cooper, Aziz Ansari and Mia Moretti. What did they say about the new fragrance?
They all loved all the different aspects of the perfume. The bottle, packaging, communications and of course the fragrance as well.

From $96 to $164. Kenzo World is available from 31 August