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EXCLUSIVE: Dua Lipa Sings George Michael’s ‘Freedom’ for New YSL Libre Film

Directed by Jenn Nkiru and shot by Tyler Mitchell, the campaign launches a new version of the iconic fragrance.

Libre is about to get more intense. The hit fragrance from YSL Beauté is launching its fourth iteration of the scent, with a “le parfum” level that amps up the power.

Dua Lipa returns as the face of the fragrance for the new campaign, with stills shot by photographer Tyler Mitchell and a short film from Grammy-winning music video director Jenn Nkiru. Lipa takes on the anthemic George Michael song “Freedom,” updated for the TikTok generation.

Choosing the name “Libre,” which means “free” in French, might have been a stroke of luck when it was selected in 2019.

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“We worked on this a few years ago, and when you see the way the world is going today freedom has never been so much at risk,” said YSL Beauté chief executive officer Stephan Bezy. “The aspiration for freedom has never been so high, so it’s a very aspirational name, a very aspirational concept. There is very strong desire for freedom.”

Lipa, he said, embodies this ethos “because she’s fierce, she’s bold, she’s free, and she’s a smart, powerful, strong, independent woman.” Lipa has been with the brand since before she became the global superstar she is now, “which is absolutely fantastic for us,” said Bezy. The latest campaign sees her coming eye-to-eye with an eagle, walking on a deserted beach, dancing in the rain and shouting the iconic song title against a backdrop of fire.

Bezy clarifies that the fragrance is not a flanker, but part of an expanded range of the Libre scent. Libre le Parfum follows the eau de parfum, eau de parfum intense and softer eau de toilette and adds saffron notes to the juice created by famed fragrance masters Carlos Benaïm and Anne Flipo.

This time they took Benaïm to the company’s Ourika Community Gardens in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, 30 miles outside of Marrakech. YSL Beauté harvests some raw materials from the 100 species of flowers that grow on the botanical grounds, but this time they used industry Headspace technology to capture the fragrance of the saffron that grows there. It’s the first time they used the technique within their gardens, and the result is a deeper earthiness to the scent.

Dua Lipa in the Libre short film.

Libre has been phenomenally successful for the group. In 2021 financial results, L’Oréal Group chief executive officer Nicolas Hieronimus, YSL Beauté’s licensee, said Libre entered the top five fragrances worldwide. While results are not yet available for 2022, Bezy said initial results are “extremely successful.” Libre fragrances rank second in Germany, sixth in Spain and eighth in France. It’s also in the top five in China and the top 10 in the U.S.

Bezy said the fragrance has been a success across regions. “It’s quite spectacular, because some fragrances sometimes are very regional — they work well in one market but not in another — and this is very successful in the U.S. market, the European market and the Asian market as well.” He said all iterations of the scent do well due to the core fragrance as well as bottle design, which was created to become a “luxury object” in line with the Yves Saint Laurent original style.

Libre is hitting a sweet spot among Millennials, he said, though it covers a broad age range. Black Opium skews a bit younger and Gen Z, he added. They will roll out body oil, body milk, shower gel and other scented products in the fragrance family.

Asked how much the fragrance sector supports the YSL Beauty business, Bezy would not divulge specifics, “but it is significant, as you can imagine. Fragrance is a big part of the business.”

The campaign is being rolled out to print, TV and across social. For the new fragrance, Bezy hopes it will be as well-loved as the iterations before. “I love reading the comments,” he added.