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Sarah Burton On The McQueen Parfum

From night-blooming flowers to gold feathers, Sarah Burton reveals how her stunning debut scent for Alexander McQueen was born...

On Starting The Process…
“When we started working on this fragrance I thought about the original process of other creative ventures, like how we make the dresses in the studio. I thought about craftsmanship and structural techniques, and the artisan way of making clothes. I was fascinated with how to apply this thinking to perfumery, in a very traditional way of artistry. I was also fascinated with how perfume making works, how perfumes are scented and how the ingredients used were extracted.”

On The Character Of The Scent….
“I didn’t want it to be a banal scent, or a scent that would please everyone. For me, it had to have some purpose and its own character. It had to tell a story, and that’s where the night blooming flowers came in - because these were the flowers used in early perfumery, and they also have a real sense of character.”

On The Inspiration For The Scent…
“I wanted something that was inspired by nature. I wanted it to be about flowers or gardens or grass. I think it was very important for the scent to be linked to nature as it’s a strong part of the DNA of the McQueen house.”

On The Materials…
“There’s a sense of authenticity to the scent, thanks to the materials used. These beautiful, night-blooming white flowers have their own story to tell. They don’t rely on aesthetics to attract insects for pollination. The fact that these insects come out at night to visit these flowers was a concept of beauty that really interested and intrigued me.”

On The Bottle…
“Again, in the same way as clothes, I wanted to create something that had a timeless feel - I wanted it to be something beautiful, so you could take it away and keep it on your shelf. This idea manifested itself in the juxtaposition between the very dark, black glass and the gold feathers around the top and the bottom of the bottle. These feathers were all hand-drawn first, and that meant that each bottle had to be hand-finished - it involved very complicated techniques to make it all work in harmony together.”

On The Relationship Between Fashion And Fragrance…
“I think fragrance and fashion sit side-by-side. When you put on a piece of clothing, you know you chose it specifically to make you feel empowered, or dramatic, or romantic. You choose specific garments in which you feel comfortable. Likewise, you choose a specific perfume to make you feel a certain way. Scent is very personal; even more personal than clothes because it’s linked to your memories and feelings.”

Shop the McQueen Parfum scent exclusively at Harrods below, plus our edit of key pieces from the brand...

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