François Nars designs his products with a multi-sensory experience in mind. From his iconoclastic Orgasm collection to ranges inspired by Andy Warhol, Man Ray and Guy Bourdin, the make-up maestro continues to fuse the high concept with the covetable.

Now, for the first time, the French creative director is venturing into scent, launching his debut fine fragrance, Audacious. Taking its name from the lipstick collection that first put him on the map 25 years ago, the perfume is every bit as provocative as you would expect from the man who designed a lip colour called Sex Machine.

Created with renowned perfumer, Olivia Giacobetti – known for her work with Diptyque, Hermès and Frederic Malle – the signature scent playfully disrupts olfactory clichés to evoke a very modern kind of mystery. ‘I remember his first words to me,’ she recalls, ‘I do not want an obvious perfume. I’m looking for a mystery, a flower in the night.’ Inspired by Nars’ favourite retreat, a private island he owns in French-Polynesia, Giacabetti immersed herself in the creative’s universe, using his photographs as a starting point.

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Giacabetti used Nars’ photographs as the starting point to creating Audacious

‘I listened to him talking to me about his desires and his island on the other side of the world. François loves the language of perfume: it does not frighten him. He wanted to build a personal and unique story.’ Nars was intimately involved in every part of the development and was keen to draw on the many references that inform his universe. ‘François is a creator who stands apart from others. His passion for architecture and photography gives his work a different dimension’.

The resulting scent is a study in light and shade that recalls the make-up master’s dualistic view of creativity. Top notes of smoke and incense are juxtaposed with white frangipani, making way for the heady, sensuous moods of the Tahitian Tiare Flower and the woody tones of Sandalwood. A fresh and delicate base of white cedar essential oil and white musk offers a soothing and unexpected contrast.

‘It started with us just talking about my world and interests: beauty and fashion, and also art, photography, film, travel, my home in Tahiti, Nars says of collaborating with Giacabetti, ‘then we moved on to an idea of contrasts; black and white, light and shadow. We built the fragrance around those themes’.

The sculptural design of the bottle remains faithful to the brand’s singular, minimalist packaging, crafted with long-term collaborator, Fabien Baron, whom we spoke to recently about the launch of his new book. For Nars, the focus is to be drawn to the potency of the juice inside. ‘In a very simple way, who doesn’t want to smell great? To me, it’s one of the small luxuries that are important. It puts me in a great mood if I smell great and it transports you to a different world. It reminds you of a lot of moments in your life and brings back memories – all good hopefully’. §