Eau de Karen Walker
When I chatted with Karen Walker last year, aside from the odd conversation choice on my part of discussing Geordie Shore, she also teased to stay tuned in April 2015 for the unveiling of the newest string to her rather glorious bow (our words not hers to be clear, she put it less dramatically and didn't refer to her own bow). Characteristically right on cue, her foray into fragrance was revealed this week and the lady herself was in Ballantynes today for the launch of the collection. A trio, entitled A, B and C.
Over lunch, she described the project which has been her focus for the last two years and shrouded in secrecy. It required covert journeys to France and the perfection of a very uncharacteristic feigning of ignorance when anyone enquired what scent she was wearing, unavoidable when she has ‘lived in’ the fragrances for the past year. Everyone wants to smell like Karen, and luckily now you don't need to subtly enquire what she is wearing, as it is likely to be a combination of A, B and/or C.
Anyone involved with the project was sworn to secrecy with a blood oath (also known as a non-disclosure agreement) and it was certainly on a need-to-know basis, with only about 10 people in New Zealand deemed to be in need. Come launch date, a collective sigh of relief was breathed among the chosen ones as the news found its way to the Karen Walker devotees in New Zealand and the world, signalling the dawn of another new era.
That is, until a revelation was made that snippets of conversation (“it needs more iris”) and wafts of perfume had unknowingly found their way to the ears and nose of the person enjoying breakfast at the neighbouring table in a hotel in Paris during a super secret excursion to France. If you thought New Zealand was small, well it is, but the world itself is a village, as the proximate diner was none other than the editor of one of New Zealand’s major media publications. To their immense credit, they kept Karen’s secret until confiding in her post-launch that they had known almost all along. No blood oath, just journalistic integrity, notable as self-imposed gag-orders are not the norm in this media day and age.
Back to the matter at hand, although fragrance had long been on the radar at Karen Walker, she would only do it if done right, which meant “not made in a bathtub”, definitely made in Grasse, France. More specifically, by Charabot, the oldest fragrance house in the world, with the finest noses, steeped in history.
A is the happiness potion - and is “like wearing gin and tonic” in thats it's light and sparkly with touches of citrus and crushed mint. A is the bottle you will reach for daily. B is described as feminine and efflorescent - lush, ripe and delicious. Best for when you need a pick me up as the scent is energising featuring bergamot, pink pepper, white rose and peach. C means business, its tagline being compelling, opulent and generous. Add C to your repertoire on a cold winter’s night when you need to spice things up with some intense floral (gardenia, magnolia, lily of the valley, jasmine - all the good ones are in there).
It feels safe to assume the Karen Walker empire must have grown beyond even the wildest expectations of the young girl who sat down at the family Bernina to make a circle skirt for her Barbie (best dressed Barbie on earth am I right?) on the encouragement of her Grandmother. But I imagine this young girl was immaculately dressed and probably already displaying the vision, flair and determination which has cemented her as one of the most formidable women in not only fashion, but business. And life. So this probably was always part of the plan.
The rest? I’m sure we will get let in on it when the time is right, or if you happen to sit next to Karen at breakfast. Just keep it to yourself…