PENNY McCORMICK meets French designer PHILIPPE STARCK to talk about his new COLLECTION OF PERFUMES …
“I was probably stoned from the fumes of alcohol in my mother’s shop,” says Philippe Starck, the design world’s agent provocateur. He’s only half joking as he talks about his early years spent escaping the tedium of school in the family perfumerie, where he explored all of the shelves and the smells, acquiring an intimate knowledge of cosmetics and shampoos. It was a quest to recreate these sensations of discovery that Starck first looked into creating a perfume. “It started four years ago. I find perfume a very interesting means of communication. I wanted to create nine perfumes in total that speak about humanity.”
The feminine Peau de Soie, as francophones will acknowledge, is a play on words (silk and self) inspired by “the mystery and beauty inside every woman”, especially Starck’s wife Jasmine. The second, Peau de Pierre (Peter and stone) is the more masculine fragrance, though Starck admits, “I don’t have a good relationship with men – the machos and the footballers. I am proud of my femininity. Everything good in my life is because I think like a woman.” The elusive Peau d’Ailleurs (elsewhere) is “where I live in my dreams – somewhere else. The idea was to grasp the ungraspable, to explore abstraction, to make the invisible visible, to make the air vibrate.”
It’s also where Starck lives in real life too – the middle of nowhere, he says gleefully, without electricity. He flew to Dublin on his private jet from southern Portugal for the launch of STARCK PARIS in Brown Thomas and will fly back to Paris (Starck has 18 homes around the world). Such is the lifestyle of a starchitect; he says he has “ideas about a lot of things.” Indeed. Starck has turned his focus and alchemist’s touch to everything from taps to jelly phones and from eyewear to hotels. An advocate of “design democracy” all decoristas should have a bit of Starck at home, whether it’s a Flos Miss Sissi lamp, a Kartell Louis Ghost chair or some of his Harcourt designs for Baccarat.
For this project, he worked with three renowned “noses”; Annick Menardo, Daphne Bugey and Daniel Rupion. His brief: “I don’t want to recognise any component or ingredient.” That meant they relied on molecular wizardry and it took three years to finesse the perfumes. As for the bottle, for Starck it was not an important design; the packaging is minimalist so as not to deflect from the three mysterious scents within.
If Starck worked on ethereal matter and abstract ideas for this project, he’s just finished something more tangible – the futuristic Sailing Yacht A for oligarch Andrey Melnichenko (at a cost of £360m stg), which took seven years to complete. He’s also working on a beer – having mastered champagne (Brut Nature with Louis Roederer) and is developing a cure for sleep apnea. Meanwhile, he’s just finished the next two perfumes in this Starck Paris collection.
Starck Paris; Peau de Soie, Peau de Pierre and Peau d’Ailleurs are available at Brown Thomas, €85 for 40ml and €125 for 90ml. www.starck.com.
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