Skip to main content

EXCLUSIVE: Kenzo Takada on Making Scents

The designer’s second master brand created with Avon launches starting Oct. 1.

PARIS — Kenzo Takada has fragrance on his mind, as he readies the launch of Avon Life Colour, his second master brand created in collaboration with Avon.

The women’s and men’s scents, which launch starting Oct. 1, are part of Avon’s overarching strategy to rejuvenate the brand, Danielle Bibas, Avon chief creative and content officer, told WWD. This, in part, is meant to chime with Millennials.

“One of the things that we want to do with the brand, and Avon has been doing this for a while, is democratizing beauty and talking about freedom of expression,” she continued, adding that strategy parallels what Takada has done. “He was a true pioneer in breaking some of the rules of fashion, democratizing haute couture and some of the codes of luxury in fashion.”

The executive said Avon expects Life Colour — which will come out in Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, Brazil and Argentina from Oct. 1, then Mexico and northern Latin American markets in first-quarter 2019 — to be its biggest fragrance launch of 2018. It also is Avon’s biggest introduction since the appointment of Jan Zijderveld as chief executive officer eight months ago.

Related Galleries

The master brand, with scents priced between $25 and $30, will have large social-media play. Its launch comes two years after Avon Life was introduced and broke the group’s sales records during the first three months on counter. “It brought in a new set of consumers,” Bibas said.

You May Also Like

Avon plans to continue teaming with designers and other celebrities on scents positioned in the top tier of its portfolio, in order to bring high-quality, innovative, on-trend products at affordable prices to customers globally, she explained.

Avon sells more than 200 million fragrances yearly.

Takada shared his thoughts exclusively with WWD on the new perfume project.

Kenzo Takada
Kenzo Takada Courtesy Photo

WWD: What did you have in mind for these fragrances?

Kenzo Takada: Colors and their joy were my main inspiration. Colors have always inspired my work and encouraged me to live life with more joy, beauty and confidence — and colors from other cultures in particular. The hues from sidewalks around the world had a profound impact on my work since I arrived in France after a long boat trip. The trip started in Tokyo with stopovers in Southeast Asia, West and Northern Africa, arriving in Paris in January 1965.

The creation of this fragrance took more than two years of intense teamwork along with some of the world’s best perfumers, Frank Voelkl and Dora Baghriche, for Avon Life Colour for Her, and Olivier Cresp and Pierre Negrin, for Avon Life Colour for Him, to offer all the luxury codes of premium-fragrance making at an affordable price. It continues what I proudly started in fashion — building a new paradigm by democratizing luxury through the participation in the establishment of ready-to-wear.

For the bottle, I looked for a more urban inspiration, a deconstructed shape with an architectural feel that symbolized a prism. The bottle reflects the light of the environment and plays with colors, giving a feeling of diffusing joy.

WWD: Please discuss the olfactive component.

K.T.: I created this fragrance as if I was working from a white canvas, looking to bring colors to life just like when I paint. The hero ingredient I chose for both Avon Life Colour for Him and for Her was magnolia, a strong white flower I have always been very fond of since my childhood in Japan. You could find magnolia trees right outside my house in Himeji, Japan, and in its temples. It releases an elegant jasmine-like note that is very addictive, bringing a sense of power, harmony and a blooming identity. It gives Avon Life Colour a great signature and it also symbolizes the color white, which is the sum of all colors. For the other notes, I chose other colorful and uplifting ingredients in nature that could translate joie de vivre. We chose ingredients that relate to strong emotions or elements of my life. That’s why we call [it] the olfactive “the palette of joy,” with each note representing a different color and a different emotion.

WWD: Who are the fragrances’ target consumers?

K.T.: Avon Life Colour is an uplifting [perfume] designed for people with young souls, who want to feel joyful, seductive and confident, and who have a positive take on life whatever the age. I believe a scent needs to add positivity to life, so I always create my fragrances to trigger an emotion, a positive one. I believe this upbeat way of seeing life is the key to turning the ordinary into the extraordinary every day. Remaining curious and open to new adventure is a very important philosophy for me, and always embracing life.

WWD: What part of the fragrance making do you enjoy the most?

K.T.: I enjoy all parts of fragrance making, from the olfactive palette to the bottle designing, but especially the energy I get from working with young, talented people. I get to always learn from everyone, and you see the project taking form slowly, it is really magical.

WWD: What other projects do you have?

K.T.: I’m working on several upcoming projects. I can only tell you that some books will come out very soon, and [I am] working on other developments, more around the home business. I won’t stop working for now. It gives me a purpose, and work allows to surround myself with a great team. I also take care of myself — go to the gym, do yoga, still travel a lot, and I keep myself curious. I don’t believe in age or in failing. It is only a continuous learning curve. I am and will always be a big dreamer.