Louis Vuitton’s new series of unisex fragrances, City of Stars, is an olfactory ode to Los Angeles, with scents called Afternoon Swim and California Dream. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that the brand tapped Alex Israel, the multimedia L.A. artist, to help create the collection’s evocative look.
The 39-year-old Israel has made a name for himself with his witty and stylized viewpoint on all things related to his hometown.
His recurring wave motif, inspired by wet suits as well as the work of Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, is a ruminative yet graphic Pop confection that has translated well into a range of mediums, from sculptural friezes to screen prints to Louis Vuitton purses (see the 2019 LV Artycapucines collection).
Israel has a strong connection to parent company LVMH and its young scion Alexandre Arnault, having collaborated on pink gradient luggage for Rimowa, a brand Arnault helmed and catapulted to the forefront of fashion when he was its president. The artist has also previously designed a textile capsule and even a surfboard for Louis Vuitton.
For City of Stars, the brand commissioned an original painting from Israel, featuring an L.A. cityscape during a hot pink and violet sunset. Like a lot of Israel’s art, it works on many levels—it would make sense on a gallery wall or airbrushed on the side of a surf Lothario’s van circa 1986. In this case, it has been adapted to the design of Louis Vuitton fragrance bottles and travel cases.
“It’s a view from the hills, through silhouetted palm trees, overlooking Hollywood and the grid of city lights below,” Israel explained, decked out in a black Louis Vuitton suit and cross-body bag, during a press event for the scents’ launch last week at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
“This vantage implies a domestic setting—as if you’re on a bedroom balcony or in a backyard by a pool or a tennis court, standing outside and admiring the view. The spotlights must be emanating from the red carpet of a movie premiere or an awards show.”
The series’ namesake City of Stars scent was formulated by the master perfumer Jacques Cavallier Belletrud to capture the vibe of a “special, shimmering” night in Los Angeles, “when the singular setting sun gives way to the city’s lights and spotlights that traverse the sky,” he said in a statement from the brand.
“It’s a luminous night. The light comes from the explosion of a citrus quintet: blood orange, lemon, red mandarin, bergamot, and lime,” said the perfumer. “It blends those different flashes, showcasing their spontaneity in a swirling melody that envelops and caresses the senses.”
Louis Vuitton calls it a “night scent,” inspired by the city’s after-dark scene. “So much nightlife in L.A. happens after hours at house parties, away from the hustle and bustle of urban core,” Israel said. “The house party offers a different kind of social space than the nightclub or the bar: conversation moves at a different pace, things might feel more mysterious and more intimate.”
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