Trudi Loren, Estée Lauder’s SVP of designer fragrance development, has created iconic scents for some of the biggest names in fashion. For her 16th collaboration with Michael Kors, she helped create three signature fragrances launching at Macy’s called Sporty, Sexy, and Glam. A full makeup line to match each scent will follow. Ahhhh…the sweet, sweet smell of success.
Did Michael Kors have a lot of involvement in developing the fragrances with you?
Oh, absolutely! I’ve been working with Michael for the past eight years. I know what his olfactory tastes are, but I wanted to find some other notes that he might like. He loves the big white florals. His iconic fragrance, Michael Kors Signature, is a big tuberose. We started by doing what is called a “blind fragrance” session. He didn’t know what I was handing him. I wanted his gut reaction to some raw materials. Michael is never at a loss for words, so those things that he loves, he was exuberant over and then there were things that I knew he wasn’t going to like, but I didn’t know how visceral it would be. One surprise was that he absolutely loved patchouli! I had never thought that would ever have been in his wheelhouse.
What else did he love?
He started with mandarin and finished off with the woods and the mosses. So I took those notes—mandarin, orange, cassis, jasmine, tuberose, sandalwood, patchouli, etc.—as a common thread. They’re found in each one of the three fragrances.
Why three fragrances?
This project was to encapsulate the ethos of the Michael Kors brand. When describing his fashion, he always uses those three adjectives: sporty, sexy, and glam.
How long did it take you to work your magic?
It was about a year to a year and a half. All of his fragrances tend to be bold. He makes a statement with his fashion and we wanted to make sure that we kept that in the fragrances. So even when you smell the sporty citrus, this is not a light, splashy, eau de cologne citrus. This is Michael doing citrus. This is gold lamé platform sneakers. This not for the gym; this is a doing-the-town kind of thing. It’s sporty done in a Michael way.
How exactly does one become a nose?
By accident. I graduated with a degree in biochemistry and I thought my path was going to be pharmaceutical research. But then I answered—and this is how I’m dating myself—a newspaper ad for an analytical chemist position in the fragrance industry. They gave me a smelling test when I first started to see how my nose was, and then right from there, I started learning from a senior perfumer.
Having been in the fragrance biz for so long are there any scents you cannot stand?
I’m always sniffing. I feel a bit like a hound dog at times! I think it has affected me from a food perspective: I don’t like flavored teas or coffees. The smell is very synthetic and it’s overwhelming. I usually wear something that I am working on. I develop about 35 to 40 fragrances a year, so I have to put my personal preferences aside!