The Fragrance of Fashion Week

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Interview with the GOLDWORM SISTERS/12.29

It can be said that Fashion Week is a treat for the senses.  Certainly we see the styles, hear the music, feel the energy, and taste the many food and beverage sponsors of the week (Kefir pop anyone?)  But what about the last of the 5 senses: smell?  Now, thanks to the Goldworm sisters and their brand, 12.29 we can experience a designer’s vision for the season through the nose as well.  And no, I’m not talking about basic perfumes and candles.

Samantha and her sister Dawn have crafted a method of combining the elements of a brand or designer’s aesthetic with that of their seasonal inspiration to create a permeating scent throughout an event space.  Drawing on years of experience in fragrance at Avon and Coty beauty, they coined the term Olfactive Branding to describe the process.  During their runway debut in 2009, 12.29 helped Rodarte bring to life their vision of a burning planet by infusing the space with a distinct campfire aroma.  Since then, the fashion world has taken notice – and the girls have been busy producing such personalized and experience enhancing scents for everyone from Zac Posen to Thakoon, and this season – Prabal Gurung.

Read on for my interview with Samantha Goldworm to learn just what it takes to “scent” a runway, and where you can expect to see (or smell, rather) 12.29’s handiwork.

What’s behind the name?  It’s our birthday!  When we started the company years ago – we hosted a bunch of creative girlfriends and did a focus group.  After 2 hours, we’d come up with nothing!  Then one of my sister’s best friend’s who worked for Bottega Veneta suggested our birth date and it made perfect sense.

What does it mean to “scent” an event or space?  We use commercial diffusion boxes and use scent oil which is atomized into a gas.  The boxes look kind of like a suitcase, and are placed throughout the room.  It is the same technology we use to scent a hotel.

What types of events do you do?  We do everything from retail locations and fashion shows of course, to hotels (Thompson hotels) restaurants and nightclubs in NYC (EMM Group venues) and even fairs like Design Miami (Art Basel’s furniture/jewelry side of the fair).  We are scenting 3 new hotels that are opening in October in NYC: the Quin, Viceroy NY, WESTHOUSE.  We also create candles and product for our clients, for example a perfume for Purple magazine.

What are some of the more interesting/extreme/favorites that you’ve done in the past?

Zac Posen, Thakoon, Jason Wu, Rodarte (2009 – first show).  The idea for that show was Jim Henson’s film “Dark Crystal” which is about a burning planet.  The girls had tattoos and dreads in their hair, and there was lots of rope and metal on set.  The lights went down, and when they came back up – there was smoke, music and scent all released at the same time that the girls started walking.  The scent was similar to a delicious campfire.  Everyone thought it was just the smoke that smelled!

What shows are you doing this season?  TOCCA and CALLA. Our biggest show this season is Prabal Gurung, which will be about 1000 people!

How did you get into this?  Dawn felt after working in beauty industry for so long, that the concept of scent could be taken further.  She asked her friend [designer] Gabriel Moltedo if we could scent his shop.  Colette had just begun using candles and the Ritz was scented so she thought his consumers would appreciate brand scent.

Are there certain scents that everyone tends to gravitate towards?  Everyone loves Rodarte’s scent.  We have a coffret of scents that we carry when we meet with clients so that they can smell and understand the process.

What about specific smells or elements of a fragrance that are more popular than others….(i.e citrus, smoke, musk, etc)? Olfactive preferences really varies across cultures and generations.  And because we translate the brand into a smell, it is not necessarily about creating a smell that everyone will like.  Its about designing a smell that communicates the brand identity and becomes the Olfactive signature of the brand.

Do you notice scents everywhere you go?  I’ve been trained by Dawn for years, so I am now is much more aware.

You mentioned that you also create product for your clients, what does that mean?  When we create a brand scent, it could be diffused in a physical space, and could also include product like candles, scented stationary and scented drawer liners.  We’ve even created scented packaging for e-commerce for those without a physical space!

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