Kinski Fragrance - Kinski
On screen, the legendary German actor Klaus Kinski
KINSKI The Fragrance
(18 October 1926 - 23 November 1991) was best known for his collaborations with
director Werner Herzog, including the classics Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972),
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) and Fitzcarraldo (1982), a trilogy which pushed
performance to the brink of all-consuming madness.
In real life, Kinski was often equally electrifying. According to Peter Geyer, head of
Kinski Productions, which manages the actor’s legacy, his name came to stand for
“leadership in extravagantly non-conformist thought,” a polite way of describing a man
whose hell-raising scandalized even his most free-thinking peers. How do you go about
creating a fragrance to capture the character of such a complicated man?
Geyer took on that challenge to mark the 20th anniversary of Kinski’s death.
He wasn’t interested in simply merchandising the actor’s name. Nor did he want any
gimmicky association with the idea of “smelling like KIaus Kinski”. Instead, he wanted a
luxury product that would convey a rare, precious, arcane personality.
So he sought out Berlin-based perfumer Geza Schoen, who has earned a worldwide
reputation for precisely those qualities with the Escentric Molecules range of
fragrances. Kinski Productions has licensed the team behind Escentric
– Schoen, Jeff Lounds, Me Company – to shepherd KINSKI the fragrance into being.
KINSKI is an ingenious olfactory homage to a man whose complex personality
enthralled and appalled a generation. It is a richly decadent, textured scent with heady
top notes including cassis, juniper and castoreum; a heart with oceanic notes inspired
by Kinski’s love of the sea; and a base of animalic and woody notes that reflect his
own almost feral sensuality. “The ingredients list for KINSKI comes into its own when
you look at his lifestyle,” says Schoen. “It was excessive, exuberant, debauched. So I
instantly thought of something animalic, dirty…yet with me, there is always something
clean too. It perfectly fits with this ambivalent thing that Kinski had. It’s an old cliche
that there is a fine line between genius and madness. In Kinski’s case,
it was a knife edge, and he danced along it his whole life. He was part international
sophisticate, part idiot savant. And that kind of tension means that
KINSKI is a perfect fit with our odd portfolio of fine conceptual fragrances.”
Geza Schoen is offering the rest of us.
The “portfolio” Schoen is referring to is the six members of the Escentric family,
plus A Beautiful Mind, the new series he is working on with Lounds and Me Company.
With each of those products, their appearance has been an integral part of their appeal
because of Me Company’s haunting design work. KINSKI is no exception. “Kinski was
partly famous for his manic eyes, the staring eyes of the true outsider,” says Me Co.’s
Paul White. “I found a black-and-white image of Kinski as a young man,
possibly a passport photo from the late 40s, but with that same mesmerizing gaze.
But for me to be able to use this image, I had to find a way to bridge an old photograph
and a contemporary fragrance.” In a masterful marriage of shadowy film noir mood and
contemporary experimental method, White cropped the original image to the eyes,
distorted it with a custom-built virtual 3-D screen, and glazed it with gold.
The result is an expressionistic rendering of the actor’s face, splintered and filtered
through the decadent 70s, the decade when Kinski’s life and art combined to create
the cult-ish magic that still grips audiences today.
Geyer is thrilled with KINSKI the fragrance, and he is convinced Kinski the man would
have been too. “He would have loved to be used as a luxury brand,” says Geyer.
“Plus, he was addicted to the idea of using perfumes long before the male perfume
market went mainstream in the late 80s. He probably changed his perfume at least as
often as he changed his luxury cars.” For the record, there were three years
at the end of the Sixties when Kinski bought 16 cars: three Maserati, seven Ferraris
and six Rolls Royces. That’s a whole lot of perfume. But maybe if he’d encountered
Schoen’s creation in his honour, his restless soul might have been temporarily stilled
and seduced by a different kind of self-indulgence. That is certainly the invitation that
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