Diversity issues have plagued the fashion industry since its inception, but little has been said of the challenges facing people of color in the fragrance industry. Breaking into the elite world of smell goods takes top dollar and major connects. And former Ralph Lauren model-turned-fragrance-designer Chris Collins is one of few Black men to have made his mark. His World of Chris Collins colognes debuted last month at luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman. Can’t get more big time than that.
This is my contribution to the culture.
Collins’ father planted the early seeds for his love of scent. “My dad always loved smelling good,” he told WWD. “He wore Stetson and Grey Flannel–that literally made me obsessed. I used to climb all over him because I loved the way he smelled.” His mentor, niche scent god Kilian Hennessy of By Kilian fragrances would later school him on the ins and outs of the fragrance game. For two years Collins lived in the South of France, Mougins and Grasse to learn the art of perfumery and launch his namesake brand. “I did not let him smell the fragrances until I was done.”
My dad always loved smelling good. He wore Stetson and Grey Flannel–that literally made me obsessed.
Harlem Nights—the marquee scent—is a sensual blend of sweet and musky goodness. Rum, patchouli, orris and sandalwood conjure thoughts of legendary jazz men dipped to the nines in dark, smoke-filled bars. “This is my contribution to the culture,” the Harlem native explains, adding that his ‘hood is seeing a “rebirth of the culture.”
An homage to by Josephine Baker, Danse Sauvage is a warm and spicy blend of black pepper, plum, amber and musk. Renaissance Man–inspired by birth and revival–rounds out the trio with notes of ginger, sage, vetiver and sandalwood. Housed in flask-like bottles with copper tops, each scent retails for $160. Cop them now at worldofchriscollins.com or The Men’s Store at Bergdorf Goodman New York.