chloë sevigny on creating her debut fragrance little flower
The actor tells i-D about going beyond the rose garden for her first scent, released with perfumers Régime des Fleurs
Photography Andrew Morales
Chloë Sevigny has debuted her first fragrance, Little Flower, made with off-beat perfumers Régime des Fleurs. Régime, whose historical-sounding name belies its LA roots, is a duo comprised of her old friends Ezra Woods and Alia Raza, both of whom have collaborated with the actor in various capacities over the years. Woods and Raza worked with Sevigny to reinvent her favorite scent — rose — and give it a it modern and unique update. What they came up with is not some dusty old scent (obviously), and instead dry incense and palo santo give it an atmosphere that goes beyond the rose garden.
Chloë first worked with Regime in 2015, when the duo enlisted her to recite a poem. The reading was then remixed by sound director Michel Gaubert, to coincide with the launch of the ancient artifacts section of their website (yes, ancient artifacts). So successful was their remix moment that Karl Lagerfeld used a dance version for a Haute Couture show in 2016, and more recently Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli asked Gaubert and Régime to to create new mixes for the soundtrack to his poetry-inspired fall show.
Last night, Chloë and the Régime celebrated the launch of Little Flower at Dover Street Market New York, with Chloë signing her fragrance and awarding a bottle to the person whose outfit was most inspired by the scent. i-D was there to smell the roses.
How do you all know each other?
Chloë Sevigny: Alia and I used to make fine art films together. We made two. We collaborated, with me as more of an “actress.” and Ezra and I met when he was quite young at Les Deux Cafes. Alia and I talked about beauty and art a lot in our films.
Alia Raza: You gave me your Chloé perfume you had just done the advert for.
CS: And Ezra worked with flowers through his family.
AR: He’s a fourth generation of Southern California florist. And I’m from Pakistan where jasmine and rose and tuberose are part of the culture.
CS: And I’m from Connecticut!
What’s the scent culture of Connecticut?
CS: As a teen? There were the bad boys that wore Drakkar Noir. The good girls wore Benetton Colors.
The rose scent is so classic, which seems at odds with both your vibe and that of Régime des fleurs.
CS: I’ve always loved rose, and been attracted to kind of “off roses.” And Régime had never tackled the rose so I thought it would be interesting for them to come up with their own version of a rose.
AR: We thought, if we ever did a version of a rose, it would have to be with her. We always associated her with rose.
So this was a long-term ambition.
CS: Early on, when they started the company, obviously we were old friends and had collaborated. Ezra used to style me for certain events, and I worked on the films with Alia… we also worked on a clothing company for a bit. So we’ve always been collaborating in different art forms and whatnot. And hanging out and being friends! And then they started this company together.
AR: When I got to know Chloë was when she would come to our party in LA. She was filming Big Love and she’d come and dance all night and have drinks with us. The party was named after a scent molecule that’s naturally occurring in gardenias and jasmine. It smells like rot and decay!
CS: Then they started their company, and of course I fell in love with the products, the bottles, the whole ethos. They involve lots of artists and different collaborations, and it’s more than just a perfume company. They have residencies, and give grants to experiment with scents in different regions. And so I wanted to help my friends! They wrote this beautiful poem to St Therese, which I read, and which Alia directed and recorded. And we did some provocative photos for their website!
AR: For the imagery we sent her all these beautiful, romantic 19th century paintings of people wearing beautiful dresses with rose petals swirling around them. Those were our references for her photos. And then she sent us the Polaroids she did and she was butt naked in all of them.
CS: Well that’s the tricky thing when you’re promoting perfume, most fragrances, as we know, are attached to brands, so it’s easy to wear the fashion of that brand. This one is different.
What would the fashion of Régime be?
Ezra Woods: Historical.
AR: When we started Régime we were inspired by three things:18th century court culture in Europe, arly 90s, late 80s youth culture in LA and NYC, where we are from and classical antiquity. So we combined those three things. We were never interested in doing anything literal.
CS: All your scents have been unisex, and I would say that Little Flower is more femme. Although I’m working with Luca Guadagnino right now, and I was wearing it every day in Italy, and he was like “If you don’t bring me back a bottle.”
AR: Well that’s a better story.
How much scent should one wear?
CS: Me? Well I do seven [gestures to just about everywhere one could spray perfume]. Sometimes on top of the head too. I used to do the one where you walk through it, but I was told that doesn’t work.
AR: I don’t wear perfume. Just kidding, spray it on your clothes so it lasts longer.
EW: Who said they spray it all over their face? [laughs]
What was it like working on the development on this?
CS: In the beginning we’d sit together, we’d have five scents we’d smell each time, and they’d start the conversation. Then I found that because they’re so knowledgeable, it would influence me, so I’d have to start the conversation as I’d be so easily swayed [laughs].
AR: We would say, you smell it first.
CS: And then blind testing. Even the name on a sample would influence me.
What do you want people to feel when they spray Little Flower?
AR: I want people to feel refreshed and invigorated when they first spray it. I want them to feel sensual and empowered when the rose and the florals start to come out. And I know it’s trite, but I want them to feel sexy when the wood and the musk emerge. So you get all three! It’s the delicate power of Little Flower.
EW: To me I think about strength and vulnerability. That Brené Brown vibe! [laughs].
What’s the difference between NYC and LA smells?
AR: In LA we like to smell a little bit deeper darker and muskier, because it’s already so natural there. In New York, we’re walking around, and Chloe takes the subway. And we want to feel invigorated and refreshed and clean.
What’s your top tip for emerging fresh from the subway?
CS: Sometimes it’s good to pause right before walking into somewhere, because usually you get off and you’re walking so briskly that you get somewhere and you’re still super heated. So I think it’s best to slow down before you enter somewhere, and breath. It lets your body temperature.