She. He. Her. Him. Feminine. Masculine. Femme. Homme. These are the conventional ways of categorising fragrance that are also normally accompanied by pink hued curved glass bottles for women and impossibly deep voices on television adverts for men. However, when Prada presented their olfactory interpretations of these gender constructs, it was striking that there was more of a to-and-fro dialogue between the two fragrances, simply entitled La Femme Prada and L’Homme Prada. Just before the Prada SS17 menswear show in June in Milan, guests were invited to experience the two fragrances concurrently in a digital installation with projections of imagined conversations between a couple, where you can’t quite tell who’s the he and who’s the she.
The same can almost be said for the fragrances that line up together in half semi-circular bottles covered in black and white saffiano leather. As a pairing, they almost invite you to dab a bit of both depending on how you want to mix things up. I’m a bit rubbish at describing scent notes so in emotive Prada terms, the fragrances are “designed to take the wearer on a voyage through place, memory and time, somehow there appears a sensual meeting point for these distinct female and male fragrances to consummate an aesthetic relationship through experimentation and tradition.” Solid, layered and complex is how I’d personally describe both fragrances with notes of frangipani and ylang-ylang in the La Femme Prada and iris and amber in the L’Homme Prada anchoring them. Alternating between the two feels natural just as Prada’s menswear and womenswear can often go hand in hand in mood, spirit and aesthetics.
So who is my male Prada counterpart? Why it’s none other than Bryan Boy – a dear friend in real life and a fellow Prada aficionado. We were excited to create these images to celebrate the launch of the Prada fragrances. Shot at the Grafton Building of the University Luigi Bocconi in our matching AW16 sailor hats and Christophe Chemin print shirts, we attempted to bring that La Femme and L’Homme Prada spirit to life. It’s certainly not the girl-finds-boy, boy-finds-girl sensual love tales of perfume marketing narratives. Then again, Prada’s coupling in fragrance form doesn’t adhere to that stereotypical dynamic. Hurrah for that.