New York-based Strangelove NYC is bringing its brand of edgy, romantic fragrance to its home base. The brand, led by chief executive officer and founder Elizabeth Gaynes and creative director Helena Christensen, is launching in Bergdorf Goodman Oct. 6. The duo teamed with nose Christophe Laudamiel to craft two unisex, oudh-focused fragrances — DeadofNight and MeltMyHeart — that will also move into Bloomingdale’s in Dubai in late February or early March. Combined, the two new points of distribution are expected to grow Strangelove by about 200 percent, according to industry sources, who projected that given strength in the niche fragrance category, the brand could be bringing in $25 million to $35 million in retail sales in the next five to eight years.
“It’s more of an experience when you dive into our perfumes because they are a little edgy,” Gaynes said. “They’re strong, and they make a statement. We’re not afraid to try something unusual….We’re just tired of the regular perfumes that are out there.” DeadofNight is an oudh with green top notes, floral hints of jasmine and rose, combined with sandalwood, amber and musk. MeltMyHeart, which debuted in 2015, marries oudh with mandarin, purified ginger, sandalwood and dark chocolate. Both fragrances come in multiple iterations — a 100-ml. eau de parfum, priced at $795, the 50-ml. eau de parfum for $475, the 10-ml. oil, in the rollerball format, retails for $390, the 15-ml. oil retails for $620, the brand’s smaller 24-karat plated necklace with the oil is $260, and the larger is $390. Both feature a floral motif, and are refillable — oil refills are $195 for three 1.25-ml. bottles. The larger necklace — which has a 38-inch chain (compared to the smaller 24-inch chain) — is exclusive to Bergdorf’s.
“It’s hard to find a perfume that you would want to put on every single day, spray it in your hair, spray it all over your body, and that’s how I felt when I got to smell the first samples,” Christensen said. The two connected while Gaynes, also the cofounder of GaiaOne, a company that focuses on sustainable growing practices for fragrance ingredients in connection with Givaudan, was working on that project, and Christensen, a model, photographer and writer, was photographing for Oxfam. Then, they launched the brand with DeadofNight in 2014, and Harrods Salon de Parfums picked it up before it was officially launched, when it was still in its initial oil form, according to the pair. Meeting Harrods’ requests is what prompted Strangelove to develop its eau de parfum in the first place, according to Gaynes and Christensen, and to upgrade its packaging.
The products come in black or white lacquered boxes, with minimal gold lettering on the outside. Bottle caps are coated in 24-karat gold and designed using the Fibonacci sequence. In the next round of packaging, the velvet pieces that hold the fragrance in place inside of the box will be easily removable so the box can be kept and reused. “It took us a very long time for the first perfume — the first oil,” Christensen said. “Then it became a little less complicated…we had the main ingredients to work with. Once we got to know Christophe’s whole way of working, which is very special…it’s actually the best part of it to just sit there and smell and mix, I love that, it’s amazing.”
The team launched the second fragrance, MeltMyHeart, in 2015. With two scents under its belt, Gaynes reached out to Bergdorf’s, she said. “Word started spreading about what we were all about — I just knew we needed to be in New York,” Gaynes said. “We’re a New York company, why aren’t we here?” The fragrance will be featured on Bergdorf’s beauty floor. The setup includes a photo of Christensen’s bare back, with the fragrances off to the side. The photography is in line with Strangelove’s branding, which often features shots of Christensen and by Christensen, but rarely shows her famous face.
After the Dubai launch, Strangelove, which is working on a third scent, will continue to explore new distribution opportunities in select markets, potentially in Asia, Russia or Los Angeles, the pair said. “We want to be somewhere where people really know about perfume,” Gaynes said. “The special places in the world,” Christensen added.