If you've met me, you know I fall hard for all things Kanye West. Yeezys (many, many pairs), Kim Kardashian's blond (tried it myself), the music (obviously), and Virgil Abloh. A longtime Kanye collaborator, Virgil creative directed everything from Kanye's creative agency DONDA to the entire Watch The Throne album. Back in 2013, Virgil started his own line, Off-White, and my fandom took on a life of its own. No longer just Kanye's right-hand man, Virgil developed his own base, me included. I started seeing diagonal stripes everywhere. And not just because I couldn't get the collection out of my mind. Everyone was wearing it. Even if they weren't wearing Off-White! The mainstream collaborations were endless: Nike, Warby Parker, Kith, Levi's, Jimmy Choo, Chrome Hearts, Umbra, Ouai, Ikea—and that's only the 2017 list. Good for Virgil; a little exhausting for me and stans everywhere.
It's pretty clever, getting to put your stamp on so much of daily life. I find myself constantly wondering what's next (though maybe not waiting for it—Pablo merchandise is the first and only time I'll stand in a line in person for hours). I'd like to think I might tire of it, particularly if it's already all over everyone else. But who am I kidding? When that IKEA collab drops, I'm going to buy a rug—even though I hate rugs.
Which brings me back to perfume. I wasn't even sure I'd like Elevator Music, the Off-White collaboration with fragrance house Byredo. But when it arrived to the office the same day Virgil Abloh was announced as the men's artistic director at Louis Vuitton, it felt like fate. And like a very, very Virgil thing to do. (Full disclosure, working closely with beauty editors means I can swing early access—if only to try it out and photograph the bottle for your enjoyment. As we speak, the bottle is being messengered back to where it came from and I'll be waiting patiently for the real launch on May 17 just like everybody else.)
I thought I found my "forever perfume" when Bibliothéque launched last year and promptly purchased an obscene number of bottles. (I don't want to talk about it.) Say the words "limited edition" and I'm one of Pavlov's dogs with a credit card. But from the Elevator Music packaging alone, I knew I was in trouble again. Those diagonal stripes, man. I momentarily froze while trying to break open the perfect neon orange seal on the sides of the box. And don't get me started on the lack of standard, Byredo, white label on the bottle. It's there, but it isn't. Like Elevator Music! Get it? Genius genius genius.
In terms of scent, Elevator Music is like Bibliothéque's floral, woody (and slightly musky) cousin. As obsessed as I was with the packaging, the notes—bamboo, midnight violet, ambrette, jasmine petals, amyris, and burned woods—perplexed me. I'm not generally a fan of earthy scents (which was probably strongest from the bamboo top note), so it wasn't love at first spritz. It took a second spritz and a walk around the block for the love to set in. It's one of those scents that melts into your skin and lingers instead of punching you in the face. A few days later, my apartment still smells like Elevator Music and I'm realizing that Virgil probably has a room scent in the works too...
So now I'm back to the same dilemma as last year: Do I purchase multiple bottles so I can have a "backup"? (The assumption here being that I'm already sold on at least one.) Or do I more wisely listen to my mother, who last year said about Bibliothéque, "Don't buy another, a different perfume will come out in a year or two and you'll want that one." Knowing Virgil, I can only assume she's right.
Photographed by Tom Newton.