Derek Lam Talks 10 Crosby Fragrances, Capturing New York Moments in Film

Courtesy of Derek Lam
Derek Lam

What's the perfect scent for summer? The designer shares that and more in advance of L.A. personal appearance.

Derek Lam has dressed numerous celebrities head to toe, from Anna Kendrick, his date to this year’s Met Gala, to forever fans Naomi Watts, Karlie Kloss and Allison Williams. But it wasn’t until late last year that he could truly offer devotees a complete ensemble. That’s because something was missing: fragrance.

“A woman’s lifestyle encompasses more than just clothing, so we’ve gone to shoes and bags, and fragrance is an obvious evolution,” the designer tells Pret-a-Reporter in advance of his personal appearance at Nordstrom at The Grove on Thursday, June 23 from 6-7 p.m. His debut in the world of perfume was not with one signature scent, but 10 unique blends, each illustrated with its own film by creative directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.

Lam says the undertaking to create multiple scents was partly inspired by the 10 in his brand’s name. (In addition to his namesake runway collection, known for precision-cut sportswear, the designer also has the more relaxed 10 Crosby contemporary line.) But also, “I want to communicate about a lifestyle, different moods, different points of view, different ways of entering imagination through fragrance.”

Even though designing a fashion collection is a more sculptural, three-dimensional exercise, the starting point for both that process and the fragrance development was very similar, he says. “I think about the woman, I think about the mood and I think about the moment,” explains Lam. Smelling, rather than seeing the results, was fun, he adds.

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For each of his 10 eau de parfums ($95-175), Lam began with a moment from his life that he felt “was a universal story... It’s trying to tell a story, but obviously not through writing or fashion, through a sensory aspect.” Thus Silent St., 2AM Kiss, Drunk on Youth and Rain Day, among others, were derived from personal memories of his from New York. The Manhattanite took things a step further with the fun short films, which feature some familiar faces (Alia Shawkat, Jennifer Westfeldt, Aya Cash).

In communicating what each fragrance represents, Lam says, “I didn’t want to do it in a very traditional way where it was a woman and a man and a wonderful moment together, or a woman in a field of flowers—that very traditional iconography of fragrance.” Instead he used New York street scenes as a jumping-off point. “It was kind of like taking what I understood as the inspiration and allowing [the directors, choreographers, actors and actresses] to contribute to the development of the story. I like the fact people have to discover it and it’s not just on a billboard or a picture in a magazine.”

Lam suggests mixing and matching the scents, citing Blackout and Rain Day as his favorites. “Maybe start off with Silent St. and later in the day try Something Wild, or maybe you want to have a sultry night out so you switch to Blackout. It becomes a wardrobe to track your day.”

For summer, the designer recommends the warm 2AM Kiss or Rain Day, which “was developed to mimic the cleanliness after a rainstorm, the certain refreshing quality to the air. It would be a good one on a relaxing vacation.”