This Fragrance Smells Like Nothing You've Ever Worn Before (and There's a Legit Reason for That)


Miranda Priestly wasn't wrong when she sarcastically shut-down the concept of florals for spring. It's not groundbreaking, especially in the world of fragrance where bouquets of plants like rose, jasmine, lily, and gardenia are a dime a dozen. But when it comes to Proenza Schouler's debut fragrance Arizona, florals are groundbreaking, and in a way, totally unprecedented.

For designers Jack McCollough's and Lazaro Hernandez's first forray into fragrance, they were inspired by their feelings during a road-trip to the American West, and chased the concept of disconnection, a place that allowed for a digital detox, and a release from today's never-ending flow of communication.

"To us, it felt like such a luxury experience," Hernandez said of their disconnection during their trip. "Everyone we knew was sort of feeling—so were we—overwhelmed by media and just the workload and the computers and everyone being so connected. It felt really freeing being out there and being by yourself and your thoughts. We thought that experience felt really relevant to today."

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Arizona, to the designers, represented that state of mind, and its qualities became the focus of the fragrance that took over two years to create. The bottle design, a see-through crystal with abstract shapes and curves, was even fashioned after rock formations you'd find in the terrain.

An untraditional floral fragrance that takes on a solar, minerally, and feminine vibe, Arizona was created with a never-been-used-before white cactus flower accord derived from the Torch Cactus blossoms, a plant that only bloom once a year.

"We imagined a floral contrast with the luminous cactus flower on one side, evoking deeply rooted Arizona plants, and on the other side the minerality of orris, directly inspired by the rocky desert," explains one of the scent's perfumers, Carlos Benaim.

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To extract the scent, which is described as bright and crystalline, the plant was left untouched and completely unharmed. "We use a bulb to enclose the flower and concentrate the odor molecules. A needle, called the SPME needle, is then inserted into the bulb," says Benaim. That needle holds a polymer that absorbs the olfactive molecules, capturing it for the creation of the scent.

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"Paired with orris root, it creates a duality between a green, luminous, crispy flower and a creamy, mineral sensuality," he continues. Interestingly enough, orris root dates back to sixteen century BC, so its inclusion demonstrates the designers' appreciation for fusing innovation and craft. Finally, with the addition of musks and Cashmeran, Arizona has a sensual and warm aroma that many floral fragrances are without.

But fragrance is more about the smell—it's about the experience. McCollough and Hernandez hope Arizona brings one of inspiration, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

"It would be nice for people to feel this feeling of escape, of being taken away from the chaos of their everyday lives and into a place of peace in a way," says McCollough. "We really wanted this fragrance to bring you back to this core, the basic principals of life."

As far as we're concerned, it's as good as shutting off your work email for a day.

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