Brent Leonesio turned recession lemons into fragrance juice.
The creator of the Los Angeles-based niche perfume brand Smell Bent was faced with a major career dilemma upon losing his job last year when Il Primo Passo, the shoe store where he was a buyer, closed. Faced with whether he should stick with a fashion career he had become disenchanted with or pursue a passion for perfumery, he chose the latter.
“I had been tinkering around [with fragrance,] and I thought now was as good a time as any to do it. I put together a Web site and a collection of 10 scents. I didn’t know if anybody would buy, so I started small,” recounted the 28-year-old former designer at Cynthia Vincent.
People did begin to buy Smell Bent, which struck a chord with perfume enthusiasts on the Web and a small cadre of retailers, including Luckyscent.com and its Los Angeles brick-and-mortar outpost, Scent Bar. They were drawn to the brand’s prices ranging from $20 to $45, the playful, almost childlike graphics used in the packaging, and the complex scents.
“We feel he [Leonesio] has a great energy, a great talent, and we could see that his collection would develop over time,” said Franco Wright, co-owner of Luckyscent.com and Scent Bar, who added, “With his very reasonable pricing, we can reach a broader audience.”
Making Smell Bent approachable was one of Leonesio’s main goals. “Because fragrance has traditionally been a luxury item, what you see is these brands that are focused on high, high prestige, super high price points and a lot of high concept copy,” he said. “I wanted to make a fun line that wasn’t scary, that was accessible and wasn’t priced high so everybody could get it, but it would still have great ingredients.”
With inclusivity a priority, Smell Bent is poised to reach beyond fragrance insiders. The brand hit Urban Outfitters’ Web site this month and is slated to enter the retailer’s top five doors next month with 10 perfume sprays priced at $45 for 55 ml. Bestsellers include Prairie Nymph, which is a mix of honeyed beeswax, carnation, Clementine and musk, and Bollywood or Bust, which features red rose absolute and sandalwood.
Leonesio hopes to hit $100,000 in sales this year. “I think my brand has a finger on the pulse of what is going on right now in terms of combining art and scent,” he said. “There is definitely a youth appeal to the line. I think the price is great, and we stand out.”
Later this year, Leonesio will add to his Leisure Cruise line of scents inspired by places with a fragrance called Tokyo Mama based on ingredients from Japan. He has also been tapped by Luckyscent.com to create a fragrance for its exclusive Untitled series of one-of-a-kind items that will be centered on agarwood and launch for the fall.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion