Though they’re produced under licence by the Spanish perfume giant Puig, 'L’Homme Prada' and 'La Femme Prada' bear all the hallmarks of Miuccia Prada’s eponymous brand. Conceived and designed as mirror images of each other, they come in matching bottles – the men’s in grey glass with a silver cap and silvered interior; the women’s in clear glass with a gold cap and reflective gold inside.
The perfumes themselves were formulated by Daniela Andrier of the Swiss fragrance house Givaudan, who has worked on most of Prada’s other fragrances. For 'L’Homme Prada' she has adapted the classic (and currently ubiquitous) men’s fougère style of perfume, which includes lavender, oakmoss and coumarin to give an impression of forest – or literally ‘ferny’ – freshness, and added neroli, geranium, patchouli and, two ingredients more often associated with feminine perfumery, iris and amber. This gives it a hint of sweetness that balances the slightly astringent smell of lavender, and also gives the perfume extra staying-power.
'La Femme Prada', for its part, revels in its femininity. Based around the fresh yet sensuous scent of frangipani, with touches of tuberose, vanilla, beeswax and ylang-ylang, it offers an instant contrast to 'L’Homme', but here, again, Andrier has cleverly introduced a ‘shadow’ note from men’s perfumery: vetiver, which gives 'La Femme' a dry but lasting finish.
Of course no major perfume launch these days would be complete without its advertising campaign, and Prada scores high marks for its attention to detail. Photographed by Steven Meisel, four young actors – Dane DeHaan, Ansel Elgort, Mia Goth and Mia Wasikowska – ‘play’ the Prada man and woman, reflecting Miuccia Prada’s belief that ‘there isn’t a single icon representing the dream of a woman or a man. It is actually the opposite, that these people represent the reality, the differences and so on.’