The birth of a fragrance begins with a story. Like a posy of bittersweet memories, it tickles not just the olfactors, but also our larger sense of being. Fashion designer Masaba Gupta’s perfume story has been in the making for two years with the final chapter receiving the finishing touches just recently, followed by a digital launch on Nyakaa’s website and Instagram handle. Perfumes were a natural extension for her, she believes.
Her clothing line has made her who she is today, but diversifying into lipsticks and nail enamels, like she did last year, and now perfumes, has catapulted her into a dynamic space of product heterogeneity. “It has made the business high-powered and has personally given me a strong lead on different types of creative avenues,” says Gupta, who has worked closely with Nykaa to give these bottles shape.
It’s a collection of six scents that embody the maker’s vibrant personality. If one captures her resilience, the other portrays her free-spiritedness. “Not just me, I see these attributes in other women too. That’s what connects all of us so deeply. I hope that what I have created will resonate with them,” says Gupta.
Her collection ranges from fruity florals to heady musks, with bold mixes in addition to simple juxtapositions.
A deep study into perfumes and preferences was undertaken by Gupta, who wanted to be mindful of Indian predilections with regards to fragrances. For instance, she found that people here don’t usually prefer strong scents such as Oudh unless it’s blended with a milder scent. Insights such as these were taken into consideration to build a line that would be enjoyed by all. “At their core, these are a wonderful expression of my idea of beauty that is inclusive, aspirational yet affordable and a whole lot of fun. I wanted my fragrances to resonate not with a particular kind, but with every kind of woman,” says Gupta.
Perfumes for her, are an amalgamation of a bit of everything—fashion, art, design—all things she’s come to love and enjoy through her brand. Embedded within the notes are emotions that Gupta has felt strongly at some of the other point in her life. This is her attempt at articulating them.
Like Burn Babe, an oriental, woody scent, also one of her favourites, speaks of resoluteness. “I believe it only takes one spark to light a ﬁre inside you. Here’s a scent that personifies that. It’s fierce and bold and calls out to all unstoppable women,” says the designer.
Another one is called Free Spirit with a sweet burst of Bergamot and Grapefruit, in addition to pink pepper, Amber, Oud and Musk, is one she identifies with intimately given her sense of adventure. Not one to give in to social cliches, she’s never been the kind to go after fulfilling expectations. In her heart, she is a simple girl who loves design and through it, is living a non-conformist life. “Croc and Roll is for girls who find pride in their femininity. The scent lingers around in the room long after you have left it as a reminder of womanly elegance,” she says.
While Croc and Roll is the most relatable scent, Spot On is the most unusual one in the collection. It’s a heavy one with notes of orange blossom and Osmanthus. There are layers of musk, leather and amber blended in. “If you’re into peculiar fragrances like me, you will enjoy this one,” says Gupta.
Wild For You, on the other hand, opens with Cypress and Birch notes and lightly mixes suede, amber, and praline, while Uptown Girl is a palate of fresh blossoms.
Even though Gupta has been fire-fighting since the last two months to make sure the business remains afloat, she believes that her fragrances will offer a pleasant respite from all the sombreness that grips us. “Covid has taught me to reevaluate my whole life. It’s shown me how fortunate we are. It also puts us in a position of responsibility for those who aren’t and that’s why a part of the proceeds from the sales will go towards the relief of migrant workers. We’re all in survival mode, but I am grateful things are moving ahead,” she says. Finally, a piece of advice with regards to perfumes. While testing a fragrance, don’t rub your wrists together after spritzing the perfume. It breaks the molecules and one may not be able to smell all the notes.