Earlier this month, in London, the L’Oréal group unveiled the new feminine fragrance from designer Stella McCartney. The reveal took place inside Wellington Arch, on Hyde Park Corner.

L.I.L.Y will be previewed in UK travel retail from 15 Feb to 15 March, before being rolled out to travel retail worldwide, ahead of the domestic market introduction in April.

L.I.L.Y, the new fragrance from fashion designer Stella McCartney, will make its travel retail debut in the UK in February

The launch event was attended by international media, retailers, and Stella herself. The designer delivered an in-depth presentation about the fragrance concept, creation and inspiration.

“I’ll start with the name,” she declared. “Firstly, I think it’s a beautiful name: simple and feminine. It also links to one of the main ingredients, which is lily of the valley. On a more personal note, my parents [Paul and the late Linda McCartney] had nicknames for each other. My dad’s nickname for my mother was L.I.L.Y, which stood for “˜Linda I Love You’.”

McCartney took time to stress her personal involvement and connection with all elements of the fragrance – not just the name. Of the bottle, she explained: “I wanted to create an object of desire, something that was timeless and beautiful. I had to love it – and in fact I want everyone to love it. I don’t want to create something anyone feels OK about throwing away when it’s empty.”

I think Lily is a beautiful name: simple and feminine. It also links to one of the main ingredients, which is lily of the valley. On a more personal note, my parents [Paul and the late Linda McCartney] had nicknames for each other. My dad’s nickname for my mother was L.I.L.Y, which stood for “˜Linda I Love You’.”
Stella McCartney

She continued: “Memory is such a key part of scent, and I wanted to bring that to the bottle too, not just the [juice]. I find it disappointing that so many fragrance bottles today are made of plastic. So I started to look at cut crystal, which is very familiar and very feminine, but at the same time allowed me to bring in a more masculine element, through the pointed, edgy facets.

“But I also wanted to create a framework for this cut glass, so I brought in metal to modernise it. I love the idea of contrasts, and that’s what I see in this bottle, with the idea of the square and the circle, the masculine and the feminine together.”

L.I.L.Y is available as a 30ml, 50ml and 75ml edp. The cut-glass centre of the 75ml is more rounded, to emphasise the idea of a precious keepsake. The ancillaries are a paraben-free 200ml Beauty Cream for the Body and a 200ml Shower Gel. All of the paper used for the packaging is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.

The glass flacon reveals the delicate dusky pink “flesh tone” of the juice, a favourite shade of the designer. The metal framework of the bottle is discreetly etched with the fragrance name.

“I am not a fan of “˜in your face’ branding on fragrance, or indeed on anything,” commented McCartney. “So I wanted something subtle, and this I think evokes the idea of engraving on a picture frame.”

Like the bottle, the L.I.L.Y juice also embodies the idea of contrasts and the juxtaposition of masculine and feminine. “It all started with my love of lily of the valley,” acknowledged McCartney. “I grew up in the English countryside, and I was outside a lot of the time. I love lily of the valley; I find it to be breathtakingly beautiful. It’s also a very innocent looking flower, with a real freshness to it. I love that it blooms only fleetingly, in Spring, and that it grows in the shade, not in direct sunlight. It is fragile and innocent and delicate, yet it also has this sharp green leaf contrast. How to capture all that in a fragrance was a real challenge.”

The advertising campaign, featuring model Malgosia Bela, was shot in the English countryside by David Sims

McCartney admitted that breaking down the preconceptions about lily of the valley – namely that it is a fusty, old-fashioned flower suitable only for maiden aunts and grandmothers – was yet another challenge. “I know it’s not particularly contemporary, and I wanted to modernise it,” she explained. “For me, that happens with what you don’t see: the roots and the earth.

“To bring in a more masculine, sensual element I started looking at moss, which I felt was the perfect complement. Then I found myself in Paris in the Autumn, during truffle season, and realised that was the final, darker, sexy element I’d been searching for.”

McCartney created the juice in partnership with nose Jacques Cavallier, who helped compose her debut Stella fragrance. He observed: “Perfumery is built on the art of contrasts. You need something black in order to make the white thing nice”¦Stella wanted a fragrance that redefined the extremely natural and fresh image of lily of the valley. To create more depth, we infused it with notes of truffle from the Perigord region of France, adding a diffuse, caressing texture.” Oak moss also features in the dry-down.

I feel so lucky to be able to create fragrances. To me, it’s a magical thing to be able to do”¦and I love the whole process, the journey of it. I love that you can have a vision or a story, which you can realise in a scent.”
Stella McCartney

Cavallier added: “It was not easy to combine these ingredients but ultimately we succeeded. Stella is very demanding, but in a good way. She allows no compromises.”

The advertising visual was shot by David Sims, on a Spring morning in the Kent countryside, and features model Malgosia Bela. “We shot outside, using natural daylight,” noted McCartney. “I used Malgosia because I think she’s absolutely beautiful – and also she’s not 15. She wore very little make-up, and I insisted on keeping the retouching to a minimum, so you can see her freckles and her skin.

“I also wanted to feature the fragrance properly, to give it a home and a grounding. I’m not a fan of the ‘floating perfume bottle’,” she added with a grin. “It’s perhaps a little less traditional, and we certainly haven’t put truffles or lilies of the valley in anywhere. It’s all much more subtle than that.”

When asked by The Moodie Report which part of the process she found to be most enjoyable, McCartney replied: “It sounds really cheesy, but I feel so lucky to be able to create fragrances. To me, it’s a magical thing to be able to do.

“I enjoy working with the team, working with Jacques, and I love the whole process, the journey of it. I love that you can have a vision or a story, which you can realise in a scent. I also enjoy learning about fragrance, because it’s not my area of expertise.”

Creating L.I.L.Y took three years – a long time in fragrance terms. “It wasn’t supposed to take that long,” laughed McCartney, “but I’m a perfectionist. I wouldn’t be able to sit here and talk about the fragrance if I wasn’t in love with it, I’m just not that kind of person.

“I always try to be true to myself when I create things. I have found the few times I haven’t been it simply has not worked for me”¦So now I have a personal rule: if I don’t want to wear it, we’re not going to do it. And I want to wear this, so we are good to go.”

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