One of the perks of being an a-list celebrity beauty blogger is that you get invited to the launches of exciting new products. For instance this week I was in Soho for the launch of a pair of new perfumes from Arrogant Cat. (Not that I am likely to get invited to anything by the people behind Huge Lips Skinny Hips mind you)
I’ll share with you how these things work. I arrived at the hotel fashionably late, but was still one of the first to show their face. I was pleased to be instantly recognised as the Colin of Colin’s Beauty Pages. But on reflection as one of the few males and people aged over 40 it probably wasn’t too difficult to work it out from the guest list. Most of the attendees were glamorously dressed young females. But being the least decorative object in the room is not a new experience for me.
As we filed into the theatre the two fragrances, Dawn-I and Dusk-I were presented to us on coloured feathers. I don’t have the geatest of noses but my first reaction was that they were very similar indeed.
I began to understand when a smartly dressed guy got up to explain the Arrogant Cat brand. Arrogant Cat projects the ethos of radical eclecticism mixing street chic fashion designs with the divinely feminine, he explained. The look is loved by celebrities like Paris Hilton – who showed a fanatical devotion by insisting not only on wearing Arrogant Cat herself but also emptying the London branch to fit out her staff on a recent assignment in the UK. Other names who have worn it are Peaches Geldoff, Alesha Dixon, Victoria Beckham and, oh you get the picture.
Arrogant Cat started in 2001 and now have 5 shops and a worldwide reputation. Somi Chan created the look after studying design at St Martins in London and they originally sold on word of mouth. Looking different was the key to the brands appeal.
With the heritage of doing things differently they needed to do something different when they launched a fragrance. Which brings us back to the similarity of the two fragrances. A fragrance is made up of a series of scent sensations called notes. The top notes are the highly volatile elements that give the intial impact of the fragrance. The middle notes carry the main character as you apply it, and the bottom notes are the long lasting odours that persist on the skin. If you have a range of perfumes you would normally use different notes for the different fragrances.
But with Dawn-I and Dusk-I they have used the same notes in both fragrances, just with different levels. The top notes are orange and macadamia, the middle notes are milk, lily and plum with the base notes provided by cedar wood and vanilla. The idea is that the two fragrances represent the two different characters you play during the day and at night.
I ceased to be surprised that I found them similar. The gentleman presenting the fragrances keenly pointed out that an original approach was being followed. I can’t disagree – I have never heard of anybody else doing it. Will people be able to tell the two fragrances apart? Something that sounds logical and deliciously provocative at a product launch in a swish hotel in Soho may not make as much sense on the perfume counter where a puzzled customer is suggesting to the sales girl that there must be something wrong with the testers because they both smell the same. But I see why they have done it. With just about any celebrity launching a fragrance – even Jade Goody and believe it or not Burger King – you need to do something to show that you are taking your fragrance seriously. The public must be jaded by the number of fragrances on the market.
The originality continued with the packaging. The perfume bottle’s design resembles those of cats’ eyes. The two together can be lined up to give the impression that you are held in the gaze of a cat. Sadly they didn’t show us the actual packs at the launch. But the photos look stylish and I can imagine that a good point of sale display could be made with them and I can see them looking good on someone’s dressing table.
After listening to the talk we were given a samples in a very stylish bag and I had to return back to the real world of tube delays and heat waves.
So what do the scents actually smell like? I liked them, and more importantly Mrs Beautyscientist liked them. This makes sense. The press release describes the Arrogant Cat woman as glamorous and alluring by day, but at night more mysterious and sexy with an element of danger, so Mrs B to a tee. It reminded her of Poison, but it appealed to her a lot more. The overall impression is floral with an oriental background.
They will be going on sale exclusively in Selfridges initially and will retail at £69 per 100ml. This is a premium price but not prohibitively so. Launching a fragrance into a crowded market is a tough job. Most fail. You can’t fault the people behind this launch for style and originality. Have they done enough to stand out on the floor of Selfridges surrounded by dozens of other names? It will be interesting to watch.