THE POWER AND THE PRADA

WE’RE IN ITALY WITH AC­TORS ANSEL ELGORT AND DANE DE­HAAN – TALK­ING GEN­DER FLU­ID­ITY AND THEIR FRONTING OF THE NEW ‘L’HOMME PRADA’.

GQ (Australia) - - THE FRAGRANCE SPECIAL -

The de­liv­ery of a new scent is in­volved. It takes years. Years since an idea first flick­ers. Years since notes are pro­posed, dis­cussed, em­braced and se­cured. Years since early de­sign con­cepts are ex­plored and brand mes­sag­ing – be­cause that’s the key – de­fined and dis­tilled ahead of an even­tual bot­tling. It’s why here, on a balmy Mi­lanese morn­ing, heavy an­tic­i­pa­tion drapes the room for the un­veil­ing of a new scent, ‘L’homme Prada’, a fra­grance that’s been years in the mak­ing. In­vited guests mill about the cen­tral flag­ship store, each ea­ger to un­der­stand and sam­ple the new of­fer­ing and learn of the jour­ney un­der­taken to this point. ‘L’homme’ comes cou­pled with ‘La Femme’ – they’re a pair­ing, yet they also sit in­di­vid­u­ally. It re­flects, we’re told, a sense of in­ter­change­abil­ity and the con­trast­ing and com­ple­men­tary na­ture of gen­der. “I wanted to present these fra­grances to­gether, with the same con­cept, with the same pho­tog­ra­pher [long-time Prada col­lab­o­ra­tor Steven Meisel] so that they are re­ally in­ter­change­able,” says Prada CEO Mi­uc­cia Prada. “We have two ac­tresses and ac­tors that play three of four roles each. This is the main con­cept: that there isn’t a sin­gle icon rep­re­sent­ing the dream of a woman or a man. It’s the op­po­site – these peo­ple rep­re­sent the re­al­ity, the dif­fer­ences and so on.” Three are here – Ansel Elgort and Dane De­haan, along­side Mia Goth. Aus­tralian Mia Wasikowska, the fourth player in this

“BE­ING A MAN TO­DAY RE­QUIRES AN EX­TREME AMOUNT OF SEN­SI­TIV­ITY.”

Prada party, is un­able to at­tend due to film­ing com­mit­ments. Sit­ting with Elgort and De­haan, con­ver­sa­tion me­an­ders into ob­vi­ous cor­ners – ex­plo­ration of their at­tach­ment to the la­bel gen­er­ally (both have pre­vi­ously fronted sea­sonal fash­ion cam­paigns for the house), and ‘L’homme’ specif­i­cally. “It’s like fam­ily here,” con­fides De­haan, a stand­out in 2013’s Kill Your Dar­lings, of his work with the lux­ury Ital­ian la­bel. “Hon­estly, through­out my ca­reer, it’s been my most con­stant em­ployer, and that’s why it feels like fam­ily... I’ve got­ten to know Prada, I’ve got­ten to know the clothes and the peo­ple and what it rep­re­sents – it’s a com­pany that I can re­ally get be­hind in a lot of ways, one I have a lot of re­spect for and it’s re­ally just an honour to be at­tached to the brand.” This sense of fam­ily is fur­thered by Elgort, the ac­tor and DJ who landed broad crit­i­cal recog­ni­tion in the hon­est and heart­felt The Fault In Our Stars. “I hon­estly think a lot of that comes from the fact you have a com­pany where the de­signer is ac­tu­ally the name – that’s very rare and you can feel how per­sonal it is; you can feel that [Mi­uc­cia] still has her fin­gers on ev­ery­thing and I think it’s very unique in that way.” There’s a fluid, un­der­stated el­e­gance to the bot­tles pre­sented in Mi­lan. And it’s a theme ob­vi­ous in the scent it­self – ‘L’homme’ jux­ta­pos­ing the firm mas­culin­ity at­tached to the use of neroli with play­ful el­e­ments of am­ber and iris, el­e­ments em­blem­atic of many fe­male-ori­ented Prada fra­grances. “If you look at the bot­tles, they come to­gether and ev­ery­thing makes sense like that. But we did not work with the ob­ses­sion that they have to fit to­gether,” of­fers per­fumer and in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned ‘nose’ Daniela An­drier. “In­stead, it was this ob­ses­sion to cre­ate a real Prada fe­male fra­grance that is very much a mas­ter brand. Then, when you [have that], they can go to­gether, be­cause they came from the same idea.” Elgort laughs off sug­ges­tions that this has led him to try ‘La Femme’. Still, the gen­der no­tions that Prada has pre­sented open a dis­course on mod­ern mas­culin­ity – specif­i­cally, the soft­en­ing of such. “Be­ing a man to­day re­quires an ex­treme amount of sen­si­tiv­ity. So­ci­ety’s moved past the idea that men just have to be strong, tough and emo­tion­less hu­man be­ings. You know, it’s strong to be able to ex­press how you feel and I think that is true mas­culin­ity – to be sen­si­tive is to be mas­cu­line, to be in touch with how you feel is mas­cu­line. I think we’re also learn­ing that there’s mas­culin­ity in weak­ness, too.” Haan adds: “You wouldn’t be your mas­cu­line self if you shied away from fem­i­nine]. These scents rep­re­sent fi­dence in your­self as a hu­man be­ing ot truly need­ing to la­bel what that is; fi­dence in true mas­culin­ity and true in­ity, and the fact that true fem­i­nin­ity as­cu­line qual­i­ties and true mas­culin­ity mi­nine qual­i­ties.” me, like that taken to craft a scent, is sin­gu­lar and cen­tral con­cept grafted at fra­grances of­fer. Be­cause they’re allm­ing and highly trans­portive. mell it­self is one of the most pow­er­ful . When you smell some­thing it can you back to a time years and years says Elgort. “It could make you laugh, ld make you cry – I feel it in an in­stant, mo­ment when you miss some­body ou smell the way they do, the bed still like them and they’re gone, but you that they were still there... It’s funny you think about it, that when you smell hing it re­minds you of some­thing or one else; it’s like you lose all your other , you don’t see what’s around you, you hear what’s around you, the smell re­ally you some­where.” mme Prada’ EDT (50ml), $100; ‘L’homme (150ml - launch only), $170; prada.com

CLOCK­WISE, FROM LEFT: ANSEL ELGORT; PRADA’S FLAG­SHIP STORE IN MI­LAN; SAM­PLING ‘L’HOMME’; DANE DE­HAAN. BIG WHIFF TO­DAY’S GLOBAL FRA­GRANCE IN­DUS­TRY IS ES­TI­MATED TO BE WORTH ABOUT $55bn.

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