Photos: Franziska Taffelt
1. The Blind Tasting | After the Flood by Apoteker Tepe
We confronted Sissi Goetze with a mystery perfume in a neutral, opaque vaporizer. Only afterwards did we reveal the name of the scent. Follow Sissi on her journey into scent …
Without the slightest Suspicion.
When I was a kid we lived on the outskirts of Dresden and right around the corner was a stables, where racehorses and trotters no longer in the running could live out their last days in peace. It was our job to clean and polish their tack since we alone had fingers small enough to do the fiddly bits between the buckles. And that distant odor of horse, leather, and metal is instantly evoked by this fragrance.
My parents had carved out a niche for themselves, so we were as free as anyone could possibly be in East Germany at that time. My father is an artist and my mother worked in theater — those were the circles we moved in. I can’t say I ever knew the claustrophobia and narrow-mindedness of the GDR. But then again, I was only six years old when we moved to the West, to Munich, shortly before the fall of the Wall.
I was struck there right away by the tastes and odors most of all — they were something else altogether. Somehow everything tasted strange. Except for Nutella, since our relatives in the West had occasionally put a jar of that in the care packages they sent us.
I can imagine this fragrance on a man who is tough yet also elegant. He’s around forty or forty-five, and with his neatly trimmed beard, sharp haircut, and mix of classic and casual clothing, looks impeccable. It’s this, in fact, which catches the eye. He’d make an excellent adversary for James Bond: evil intentions hidden behind a suave appearance. A man like him can stroll with confidence into the Casino Royal or some other such classy establishment, place a deathly virus there, then leave without raising the slightest suspicion. Everyone is simply transfixed by his immaculate style.
2. The Interview
What is Sissi Goetze’s earliest scent memory? What is the significance of fragrance in her life? Which are her personal Top 1 perfumes? Find the answers below!
Appeal always comes as a package.
HS: In cooperation with Verdúu you recently launched your first own fragrance. Do you now wear nothing but Goetze Gegenwart?
SG: Not only and always, but mostly. There’s something very special about wearing a fragrance that is inspired by my personal memories and named for me. And it really does have an extremely calming effect on me. When I’m under stress or have a problem to solve then I just spray it on, breathe in the scent — and instantly everything’s fine again.
HS: How did the project come about?
SG: Verdúu was planning to develop fragrances with various designers and asked whether I’d be interested. I loved the idea! Launching a new perfume is a fantastic opportunity for any young designer — especially if one gets to work with a brilliant talent like Mark Buxton.
HS: Were you already familiar with Mark Buxton?
SG: I didn’t know his name at the time. But I already knew the perfumes he’d created for Comme des Garçons.
HS: How did your cooperation unfold?
SG: Mark came to my studio in order to get to know me, and the fashion I make — and also to grill me. He asked tons of questions about my childhood memories and which smells I do or don’t like. Initially, we didn’t talk about specific ingredients. What I had in mind was more a collage of situations and characters.
HS: Who or what exactly were the elements in this collage?
SG: Among others Rocky Balboa and Paul Newman. In my work I play with the tension between different poles: on the one hand the straightforward and streetwise Rocky, on the other, the gentleman Paul Newman. I was aiming for a fragrance that encompasses them both.
HS: The result was a unisex fragrance — although the fashion you make is exclusively for men.
SG: That’s true. But I didn’t set Mark any limits in this regard. My original brief was for a composition of various masculine factors, but the outcome, to my great surprise, works for all genders. That’s part of the magic that transpires when working with someone like Mark.
HS: How did it feel, when Mark presented you with his first concoctions?
SG: Thrilling! He had made two vastly different variations on our theme. And I knew immediately which of them was on the right track. All we had to do then was fine-tune it, as in: “A touch more ginger perhaps?” But at some point I saw the light and realized we should stick with the original formula. And that’s exactly what we did.
HS: Was it difficult for you to relinquish the creative reins to Mark? I mean, it must have felt almost as if you were handing someone a mood board for your next collection and telling him, “Make of it what you can!”
SG: Well, yes; but Mark is the perfume expert, not me. So I felt good about him taking the thing in hand. Anyhow, we had devised the concept together. I’d explained to him what is important to me and how the Goetze world ticks. And actually I adore working with specialists: people who are the best at things I cannot do myself.
HS: You spoke with Mark about childhood memories. What is your earliest ever olfactive memory?
SG: The stairwell at my grandmother’s place. The first thing I noticed on every visit was the strong smell of freshly waxed linoleum.
HS: Do you ever come across that smell now?
SG: Rarely, unfortunately, since waxing floors has gone out of fashion. But even a whiff of it reminds me of my grandma, and that’s a comfort, and cozy.
HS: Which perfumes do you wear, apart from your own?
SG: Martin Margiela’s Funfair Evening.
HS: The one that smells of cotton candy?
SG: Exactly! And it’s somehow the exact opposite of mine, but nevertheless I really like it.
HS: How do the materials you work with smell?
SG: For this coming winter I’m using a special wool and cashmere fabric. It smells simply of first-class quality wool.
HS: But with also a tiny hint of fat and animal, perhaps?
SG: It does have a slight animal pong. But the feel-good factor predominates: wearing it is like a warm hug.
HS: What happens when you absolutely adore a textile but can’t stand how it smells?
SG: That would never happen. I wouldn’t adore it. In my experience appeal always comes as a package. Many textiles, cotton for example, barely have an odor. Then again, premium quality cotton is so crisp you’d almost swear that it does have a scent.
HS: And after a garment’s been worn and washed a few times then it has a smell all of its own.
SG: Yes: washing powder.
HS: Thank you!