“My Grandmother, my father’s mother, wore a lot of perfume. She was the first person I knew who had a collection of fragrances. She had all these atomizers—you know, the glass bottles with the ball. I remember putting on her clothes and pretending to spritz myself. It felt like what an adult person does. She was a classy lady.
“I first smelled Black Opium on a woman I know at YSL; she came to an event I was at and I hugged her, and I was like, ‘What is that?’ I started wearing it all the time. This was way before they asked me to be the face of it. I just loved the scent. I like that it’s not too masculine or too feminine, which is the whole vibe of Saint Laurent to me. It’s a wonderful partnership because I don’t have to pretend that I like the products, and they haven’t tried to change me in any way to fit what they are trying to do.
“It’s a huge honour to be the face of a couture fragrance as a woman of colour; I don’t know if I’m the first, but I know that it’s a rarity. When you think of classic fashion houses, you don’t think of women of colour. Especially with fragrance—which is a big deal as a lot of money is there. The fact that it has taken so long to trust a woman of colour in this position is kind of sad, but it’s also amazing that we are finally here.
“To apply fragrance, I just spritz and do a walkthrough; I feel like that’s always the safe way to go. On the skin, sometimes it can get a little intense. Other than perfume, I love the smell of fresh air (like when you’re somewhere with a lot of trees), burning wood and freshly ground coffee. I always try to travel with the same incense—I like Nag Champa—or candle. When it smells the same everywhere you go, I feel like you can trick your senses into feeling like you’re at home.”
YSL Touche Éclat Glow Shot ($40); YSL Black Opium Eau de Parfum Spray Intense ($117 for 50 mL); Nag Champa Incense ($6.95 for 100 sticks).
This article originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.