In my second interview ever with Kim Kardashian West to talk about her KKW Body fragrance launch, I made a rookie journalist mistake. While I had seen all of the images of the bottle on Instagram and read the press release about the fragrance sent by the PR company, I neglected to do a quick Google search to see what other people were saying about it. So when I asked Kim, “Where did the idea come from to use your body as the mold for the bottle? I saw it and I immediately thought of the old Jean Paul Gaultier Classique bottle,” I simply thought I was being a beauty nerd by remembering the old flacon. It was only when I started to write this piece, a whole 20 hours later, that I realized the world wide web had been coming after Kim for copying JPG’s design, which launched in 1993. Oops.
Kardashian West recognizes the similarities, but explains the inspiration for the body-shaped bottle came from several different places. The first of which goes all the way back to 2013 with the release of her very first fragrance, Kim Kardashian Pure Honey (which to be honest, I had to look up because I had no recollection of it launching). “There was another honey fragrance in the works at that time and I held onto images of what I wanted a campaign for that other scent to be, which were these pictures that I kind of drew of my body dipped in honey,” explains Kim. “But at the time I thought, Well, no. And we obviously ended up doing a completely different shoot for the Pure Honey fragrance.”
Her second source of inspiration for the KKW Body came from fine art sculptures. “My home has all these sculptures in it. We have these two big angels that are similar to the bottle as they’re just torsos with no heads and the legs are cut off at the thighs,” she explains. The sculptural references continue to permeate through every aspect of the launch, including the campaign images, which were shot at sculptor Vanessa Beecroft’s studio. “The bottle had already been made, but Kanye recently got me this piece from Vanessa Beecroft and I just thought, Wow, we have to go to her, so we shot the campaign images in her art gallery.” Even the way the bottle is situated in the box brings to mind the ancient Greek and Roman busts you’d see a the Met or the Louvre. “We have [the bottle] positioned where it’s on a pedestal, almost looking like it’s at a museum” Kim continues. “So it was all kind of based on sculptures.”
“I love the Jean Paul Gaultier bottle, and I totally get the
reference; and I knew people would say that, but I just love [my
perfume bottle] so much….I just thought it was just really fitting
for me, personally.”
But as I mentioned, the references to JPG are not lost on Kardashian West, who — as I’ve learned from just our few brief conversations over the phone — knows her beauty products as well as any seasoned beauty editor. “I love the Jean Paul Gaultier bottle, and I totally get the reference; and I knew people would say that, but I just love [my perfume bottle] so much. I really wanted to make one of my body and do the whole mold process and we also did these body scans. I just thought it was just really fitting for me, personally.”
In Kim’s defense, there’s actually a long history of women’s bodies being used as the inspiration for perfume bottles. Gaultier’s is a very literal depiction of the female form, but there are many more conceptual iterations. Consider the bottle for J’Adore Dior. Created in 2000, the bottle was inspired by designer Christian Dior’s sketches of his “New Look” silhouette, which with its nipped-in waist and full skirts, highlighted and exaggerated a woman’s hourglass shape. And while never given as an explicit inspiration, two of the versions of Estée Lauder’s iconic Youth Dew bottle — one ribbed and amber-colored with a golden bow tied around the middle like a belt, one light blue with an hourglass shape — are reminiscent of the female figure. That, paired with the fact the ad campaign featured a “tastefully blurred profile of a nude woman” (very risqué for the 1950s), makes me seriously wonder if the bottle wasn’t in some way meant to evoke the same image.
KKW Body may be the first time someone’s actual body, however, has been transformed into a perfume bottle. And while everyone’s been obsessing over Kim being covered in plaster and clay to create the preliminary mold, that actually wasn’t the most important part of the design process. In addition to the plaster cast, Kim had digital scans done of her body that were really what served as the basis for the bottle. “The digital scans provided the most accurate details,” she explains.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in…So even
though I didn’t prep specifically for this shoot, it paid off. If this
had been a year ago, I wouldn’t have felt this comfortable doing it.”
And while the clay mold left Kim with some pretty striking (and shocking) images, it also left her with really soft skin. “Before you get the plaster put all over you, you have to put Vaseline all over your body,” she says. “That was so moisturizing, even though I showered and everything, afterwards your skin is just so soft like a baby.”
Now, with all this talk about the bottle, and the boobs, and the controversy, people seem to forget there’s also something inside the bottle, which I wanted to make sure I asked Kim about before we got off the phone — and find out how it differs from her pervious perfume launches. “It smells like this golden heaven,” she says of the blend of jasmine, peach nectar, amber, sandalwood, and musk. “I feel sexy when I wear it, which is different from Crystal, which is prettier and makes me feel pretty when I wear it. But Body, it evokes sexiness and definitely the summertime. Like, you always want to have a fun and sexy summer, and that’s what this reminds me of.”
KKW Body launches on Monday, April 30th at 12PM PST exclusively at kkwfragrance.com.
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