“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future,” Coco Chanel once boldly proclaimed. But what about a woman who wears a man’s perfume? What would Coco have to say about that? Reykjavik-based fragrance house, Andrea Maack, seeks to embrace this by producing innovative and inclusive scents, suitable for both the sexes.
Founded in 2010 by Icelandic visual artist Andrea Maack, the aromas emanating from the self-titled fragrance house - previously featured in Vogue, Another and Marie Claire - exude notes of Maack’s wide-ranging inspirations from fashion to graphic design.
Now preparing to launch two new fragrances - Dual and Soft Tension - later this year, Maack speaks to PETRIe about her mixed-media background and the sweet-smelling spring ahead.
Elizabeth Neep: Andrea, can you tell us about your work as a visual artist? When did you decide this career was for you?
Andrea Maack: I decided quite late on to become an artist; my background is more fashion and beauty. What I like about art - especially today - is that it’s at a very exciting crossroads, merging more with fashion and providing more freedom of expression. I’m not a planner and with art you never know what is going to happen - that’s the rush that I like, the process is constant. Recently I have started to realise why some artists are tortured, the process can be tedious but the end rush and the end result is everything. From that, things can start to be born.
EN: What inspires your work? What is inspiring you today?
AM: It used to be fashion, now it’s more nature, the unknown, supernatural occurrences and letting go. It can be hard to let your mind wander and to not be influenced by what’s happening around you. I also like to look at what I have done for the past 10 years and sometimes use that archive as inspiration. Sometimes you have to put things in a box and revisit them to truly appreciate them. At the moment there is a crazy snowstorm going on in Iceland and even though it seems overbearing, it's actually quite beautiful and mystical.
EN: Turning to your fragrances, what prompted your move into perfumery?
AM: I started working with fragrance as a medium a long time ago, purely out of interest and inspiration. The move from artwork into a product was a very calculated one. I found that project very interesting, to create my own fragrance brand and push myself to do something more commercial.
EN: How is your latest fragrance collection inspired by your work as a visual artist?
AM: About six months ago I took a complete U-turn and came back to Iceland - I had been working and travelling abroad for a long time. I wanted to come back almost like a stranger with a clear head, a blank canvas. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to spend time in the countryside, which I honestly haven’t really done since I was a child. At the back of my mind I wanted to seek inspiration for my latest fragrance collection but I did not want to force it. I visited an 8,000 year old water cave, purely for inspiration, but after spending time down there and feeling the fresh water dripping down my skin the concept of Dual - the first release of the new collection - was born.
EN: On your website you mention that your fragrance collection has a strong focus on quality and authenticity; how is this is translated in practice?
AM: With the quality - I spent a lot of time in Italy over the past few years, and when developing this new collection, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted the best of everything. So for example, the custom bottle that we designed is made in Parma with one of the most prestigious bottle companies in the world. The cap is made in France with an old cap maker. As for the fragrances, it was very important to have the best of the best in notes and new exciting developments, so we exclusively sourced raw materials from the leading crop factories. With the authenticity, again, it is important that these ideas are authentic and come from me - born inside my head and are completely original.
EN: Your latest collection is suitable for both sexes. What prompted this decision?
AM: The fragrance market is, and has been, drastically changing for the past five years. Today women wear men’s clothing and the other way around, the same goes for fragrance: it’s about the individual, not the sex. Dual and Soft Tension are both unisex, but Dual is more masculine while Soft Tension is more feminine.
Words: Elizabeth Neep
Photography: Saga Sig