Michael Kors says he has a few signature items in his wardrobe that he would feel naked without: aviator sunglasses, his grandfather's wedding ring, and a black crew-neck T-shirt worn under a sweater. He's aiming for the same degree of everyday dependability with his new scent, Gold Eau de Toilette, a sheerer version of his well-established Signature, with tuberose, magnolia, freesia, orange blossom, and musk. I recently sat down with the designer and Project Runway judge to talk about the new scent (which goes on sale in August) and a variety of other smells he likes — and loathes. See his quotes when you keep reading.
Allure: Why do you think Gold will appeal to the women you design for?
Kors: "Fragrance to me is very much like fashion — you can't have a closet full of ball gowns until you have the perfect LBD. You need a fragrance you can wear every day. Gold is romantic and warm and glamorous all at once. But it's everyday glamour."
Allure: How does a woman feel when she wears it?
Kors: "I think every person on the planet would benefit if we could live our lives in the golden hour, that time around 5:00 in the afternoon when the sunlight is at its best, when you're on a beach and people look their best. A fragrance can take you to that place; it has that power."
Allure: Have you experienced that?
Kors: "I wore Halston Z-14 as a kid. If I smell it now, I have shoulder-length hair and I'm in a nightclub. You can put a fragrance on in the office and it will take you on a vacation."
Allure: What were the other fragrances of your youth? What did your mom wear?
Kors: "When I was really small, she wore Shalimar. When I smell it today, I feel like I'm 5. And my grandmother was doused in Youth Dew from Estée Lauder. Then my mom went through the hippie phase in the '70s. We both did! We wore patchouli — a little goes a long way. Then the patchouli moment ended, and for a while Mom went a bit citrusy; I think she wore Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien."
Allure: Does she wear your fragrances?
Kors: "When we first launched Michael Kors Signature 10 years ago, she fell in love with it right away. And while she does wear different scents from us, she kind of returns to Signature now as her day-in day-out. I think when she's not wearing it, I notice, and when she is, it's comforting."
Allure: What other smells, not perfumes, do you like?
Kors: "There are strange scents that I respond to. When I smell Bain de Soliel Orange Gelee sun lotion, it just takes me to Summer. People yell at me all the time about wearing sunscreen. I actually do wear sunblock, then I put the Bain de Soliel on top, for the smell and the sheen. It's a childhood thing for me, it takes me to another place. It used to come in SPF 4, but now I think they're making it in 8!"
Allure: How about smells you don't like?
Kors: "Kimchi. My first office was in a loft on 28th Street in the Flower District, and I used to love to come to work and pass by all of the merchants selling flowers. You could smell them through the elevator shaft in the building. But then a Korean grocer that made kimchi went in on the ground floor, and the smell of the kimchi mixed with the flowers — I can't stand to smell it now. And apartment buildings in New York where the hallways smell a little too much like garlicky chicken. I have to say, I've never made a fragrance that smells edible."