Wode is a new fragrance from British design team Boudicca that’s been under production for nearly a decade and will officially launch at the Frieze Art Fair tonight in London. Boudicca’s designers Zowie Broach and Brian Kirby set out to create a scent from the historical touchstones that have always fuelled their brand, while still offering a modern and commercial product. Besides a spray paint-like container, the subtle vintage notes include juniper berry, hemlock and tuberose absolute. Wode’s distinct point of difference is in the spray’s unique cobalt blue color, which fully disappears from any surface minutes later. After scoring an advanced tester of the precious product during Paris Fashion Week, we sat down with Broach to discuss the tortured process of producing an innovative fragrance, Boudicca’s reverence for the color blue and why this may be the fragrance to catapult the label beyond their indie status.
JC Report: Did you always envision fragrance as an essential component to the Boudicca brand?
Zowie Broach: Back in 2001, when V Magazine gave us the opportunity to create an imaginary scent, it was a great propulsion into a world of scent and olfactory experiences that we have never returned from. Now, the atmosphere around us will always be a part of our desire and invention and we are externally lucky to have Geza Schoen to work with on this.
JCR: Besides spraying a color, what was one other feature Wode absolutely had to have?
ZB: An emotional power, a powerful sexual mnemonic.
JCR: Wode has been several years in the making, what were some of the technical issues that impacted production?
ZB: The can, the dual compartment, the development of the fragrance from the blue—it was a long and complex journey that involved many frustrations and some interesting meetings that are now far behind us.
JCR: What’s the trick behind the fading color feature?
ZB: No trick, just unique.
JCR: In conceiving the fragrance, how did the subject of rhizome figure in?
ZB: A rhizome is the most ingenious piece of philosophy that [Gilles] Deleuze shared with the world. In fact, the word is a new discovery that I only wish I had been introduced to before, as the rhizome explains it all—that is an essay, an interview in itself. I suggest that through the greatest suggestion of rhizome you all travel to discover and read for yourself, and that maybe the word, the book, the text will explain to you a vision that you too struggle to define.
JCR: Fragrances have brought fortunes to many fashion houses—will Wode be more widely distributed than your clothing, and do you see it as your moneymaker?
ZB: Yes and yes—all to illuminate another idea.
JCR: Boudicca, the brand, is steeped in historical references, how do you perceive the legacy of this fragrance?
ZB: First, it is unique in its values and its idea. And, second, it already holds the ghost of history within it. I mean there is a moment of black hemlock within the equation of the fragrance itself and that ripple through time begins with the mythical thought that Queen Boudicca brought hemlock to her lips, choosing death over Roman ownership of her soul.
JCR: I recently ate at St. Johns in London where the food is similar to how it would be in Dickens’ time. Is there any such purity when it comes to era-specific ingredients used in the making of Wode?
ZB: A raw pure equation of an animalistic frenzy; a small part of pure opium and a touch of rare black hemlock.
JCR: Your official launch is at the Frieze Art Fair, what exactly constitutes an “art” fragrance?
ZB: It finds an emotive response within you.
This interview was conducted by Jason Campbell.