An Olfactory Memory Inspires Jason Wu’s First Fragrance

Growing up in Taiwan, Jason Wu used to pick jasmine from his neighbor’s wall. “The smell was so powerful," says the designer. “It really takes me back.” Twenty-some years later, this very personal scent forms the basis of his first fragrance, Jason Wu, which will be released next Thursday, August 17th. Created in collaboration with perfumer Frank Voelkl at Firmenich—who’s responsible for many of Le Labo’s most indelible scents—Wu’s new fragrance is crisp, feminine, and formed around notes of pink pepper, fig, citrus, and Jasminum sambac.  

 

“Beauty has been a dream for me,” the designer muses. “It's a very important milestone for me—having a fragrance really means that you understand yourself. I feel like after 10 years I have the clarity to be able to work on a project like this.”

 

The creative pair—who can be seen seen in the Document-exclusive video above—began developing the scent over a year and a half ago. “I started going to Frank, and we'd smell three to four raw ingredients," explains Wu. It was a blind test to help me identify what scents I'm attracted to.” At the same time, Voelkl was open to anything and everything. “[Jason's] dislikes were everything sweet, everything fruity, everything heavy or dark. We tried to stay away from those notes,” says the perfumer. “He liked the pink pepper we showed him, he liked iris, and he liked certain "blonde" woods, which are more creamy, lighter woods versus the dark woods like patchouli, for example.”

 

The process—a back and forth which went through “rounds and rounds” before arriving at what we have today—culminated in a scent that is unlike anything else.  The bottle, inspired by midcentury modern furniture and designed by Andre Mellone, is minimal and substantial. The fragrance itself is light—“I always feel like the best scents are the ones that you catch in a moment as you're walking by someone,” explains Wu—and it’s subtle. “My brand of femininity and glamour is not ostentatious, it's always been on a quieter side."

 

I'm infatuated with the idea of American luxury, and it's always been something that I wanted to create

 

“We've seen a lot of heavy fragrances lately with sugary notes and vanilla notes and organza notes,” says Voelkl. “This fragrance for Jason is really a departure from that trend. And, who knows, maybe we'll set a new trend. I would compare it to the era in the 90s where transparent structures were very popular—there were fragrances like Pleasures or Ck1 even. Maybe this will be the beginning of a new era.”

 

For Wu, the fragrance isn’t about what anyone else is doing. “I'm infatuated with the idea of American luxury, and it's always been something that I wanted to create,” he says. “Being an immigrant, coming to America was a dream, so that idea has always been at the heart and soul of the brand. I think over the last decade I've been able to refine my work and to really say that it's about the details that you sometimes don't see. There's a subtleness to the kinds of things that I make, and they're things that you can have forever, not just for one season. I started when I was 23, and now that I'm in my 30s, that's actually informed how I design. These are the value that I wanted to instill into the fragrance.”

 

Jason Wu the scent debuts Thursday, August 17th, 2017 exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue locations nationwide.