Composition and harmony don’t just apply to music, noted Usher.
“I see a real parallel between music and fragrances,” said Usher, during a phone interview from his Atlanta home. “Top notes are like melodies — to me, fragrances are another way of telling my story.”
He’s hoping his plethora of fans will want to see this side of the story: limited edition flankers to Usher He and Usher She, the fragrances he launched last year. Both are due out in mid-September.
“The special intention is to broaden the demographics we’ve touched,” said Usher of the new juices, dubbed UR for Men and UR for Women. “There’s a lot more freshness and a lot more softness — while they’re still sexy, these scents are a little more youthful. The originals were more of a 24/7 profile. These are more relaxed. If you’re going to Cabo, this is what you’ll throw on.”
The scents share the original Usher He and She bottles. For this project, the men’s has been given a platinum wash and the women’s a pink holographic rinse, noted Art Spiro, executive vice president of Liz Claiborne brands. (The Claiborne products are manufactured, distributed and marketed by Elizabeth Arden under the terms of a recent licensing deal.) “It’s been a wonderful partnership and collaboration,” said Spiro, adding that Usher has always been “quite clear and articulate in what he wanted and expected out of the fragrances.” The company plans to promote the scents in a variety of ways, including on Usher’s latest tour.
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UR for Women is a fruity-floral eau de parfum by Firmenich, which opens with notes of peach nectar and white freesia. Its heart is of osmanthus, jasmine, honeysuckle and pink peonies and its drydown of soft woods, creamy captive musks and delectable praline. Eaux de parfum in 1.7-oz. and 3.4-oz. amounts are priced at $52 and $68, respectively. A body lotion, 6.7 oz. for $38, will also be sold.
UR for Men is an energetic, fresh aromatic by Firmenich. Top notes are of Sea Breeze accord and crisp fruits; the heart is of nutmeg, Thai basil, bay oil and artemisia, and the drydown is of guaiac wood, cashmere wood and sandalwood. Eaux de toilette in two sizes, 1.7 oz. for $50 and 3.4 oz. for $65, will be offered, as will a 3.4-oz. aftershave tonic, $45, and a 2.6-oz. deodorant, $16.
Now that he’s expanded his fragrance offerings, Usher is eager to make his mark on fashion. “I will be in clothing before you know it — I’ve had a passion for fashion for a long time,” he said, naming Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren as designers he admires. “For me, lifestyle branding is a business — and I recognized that especially after the fragrance. I’m looking forward to doing more lifestyle products — you can touch consumers with fragrance, clothing and purses, you can sell them through accessories. I am a fan of fashion, and fragrance is an introduction.”
“I haven’t chosen a fashion partner, but I am looking for a partner that will let me tell my story without compromising my vision,” Usher continued, noting that home furnishings are also on his to-do list. “Price point is important — luxury fabrics, but not too too expensive….I’m 30, I’m in no rush.”
The longtime philanthropist (his Usher’s New Look foundation supports a youth camp dedicated to mentoring at-risk youth) has a new focus for fall: voter registration. “The decision of our new president will affect the kids tremendously, and we are getting them to work to encourage the vote,” he said. “I am an Obama supporter — but I want to get out there and encourage everyone to vote, no matter how they vote. The message is, you have a voice, use it — no matter what your political party.”
Usher in His Own Words
First album purchased: Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative.”
First concert attended: New Edition.
On his iPod: Robin Thicke, easy listening and jazz cuts, “the flavor of the month.”
Passionate about: music, politics, family (especially his infant son, Usher Raymond V, “Cinco” for short), philanthropy.
Quote: “If you plant seeds early, they will harvest later,” he said of his efforts to keep at-risk youth in school. “The rate of minorities dropping out of school is staggering — as much as 60 percent. As many as 40 percent of those students are likely to end up incarcerated or dead. I want to keep them motivated to stay in school and understand how important education is.” For more information, see Ushersnewlook.org.
On his new album, “Here I Stand”: “Although I am a pop artist, I want to be recognized for my vocal ability on this album. The overall experience was more vocal about my love life and experiencing changes.”