drinking perfume with chloë sevigny
During New York Fashion Week, the perennial cool girl toasted an unusual collaboration with perfumer Régime des Fleurs and sound director Michel Gaubert.
On an icy Valentine's Day in the East Village, fashion denizens retreated to a den of magical scents and sounds: the Régime Des Fleurs party on East 2nd Street.
"Bless me blooms of lily, blooms of violet, blooms of buttercup," said Chloë Sevigny, in a prayer that played from speakers hidden amid antique furniture and dried rose wreaths.
Saint Thrérèse, the 19th-century nun known as "The Little Flower," was the inspiration for the prayer, written by old Sevigny pals Ezra Woods and Alia Raza of the perfume house Régime des Fleurs. They hoped it would explore "a different consciousness, a sort of divine feminine energy that's innocent and virginal," Woods told me, wearing an apropos Fritillaria corsage.
The project is the latest in Régime Des Fleurs' Artefacts series, a curious bit of postmodern branding. (Previous projects included commissioning astrology readings and selling ancient Greek funerary vessels on the company's website.) For the current installment, Woods and Raza tapped sound designer Michel Gaubert to score Sevigny's recitation. Remixes of tracks by Johnny Jewel, Peaking Lights, Paolo Di Nola, and others played all afternoon at the Cafiero Select furniture store, as guests sipped champagne spiked with edible perfume. "It blooms in your mouth like a flower," Raza told me.
In the midst of fashion week, an event increasingly dominated by images and image-sharing, the gathering seemed designed to celebrate forgotten senses: sound, taste, and smell, as well as the emotions that they naturally awaken.
"I was so moved the first time I heard the poem I started crying," Sevigny recalled. "Originally Alia had wanted to do a mantra, but I don't do much meditation and I grew up Catholic, so I said, 'Let's do a prayer.'"
Michel Gaubert is a long-time fan of Sevigny, famous for posting pictures of her on his Instagram. "She's such an icon. I have a fascination for her," he told me. "At first I couldn't tell if he was making fun of me," said Sevigny, channeling Saint Thérèse in a Gucci dress with floral appliqués. "But then I asked Haley [Wollens, her stylist], who is friends with him. And his Instagram is really entertaining, so I'm flattered."
"Sounds are a lot like smells," Gaubert reflected on the party's theme. "Both are associated with memories. There's a piece by [Maurice] Ravel, 'Pavane Pour une Infante Défunt.' When I first listened to it, I had a big bouquet of mimosa in my house. Now whenever I hear to it, the mimosa smell comes back. Or in the 70s and 80s when I was clubbing a lot, I wore the Karl Lagerfeld perfume for men. Now when I smell it I see everything again — Studio 54, being on the floor, crazy nights."
Conversations among guests touched on flora. "When you travel you can't have plants that die easily," lamented Wollens, Sevigny's stylist. "You should read the poem 'The Sensitive Plant,'" advised model Hari Nef.
Asked what he thought about edible perfume, Olivier Zahm gave a Valentine's-themed tip: "You can lick it off the skin of your girlfriend."
Text Alice Hines
Images courtesy Régime des Fleurs