In 2016, Matthew Herman and David Kien co-founded Boy Smells, and the queer, independent candle company quickly dominated Instagram, amassing a cult following with fans like Kacey Musgraves. Herman and Kien's combined fashion and design backgrounds allowed them to create scents that transcended the gender binary, while offering an escape from reality.
Now, five years later the couple is debuting Cologne de Parfum, a collection of fine fragrances that blends masculine and feminine notes to create five unique scents. Perfume has always been a strong form of self-expression and with the recent rise of #perfumetiktok, more and more audiences are becoming invested in capturing their olfactory personality.
Boy Smells worked with one of the leading sources of natural ingredients for fragrances, Robertet, to develop these "genderful" scents, which are all available in 65ml bottles and retail for $98. "At Boy Smells we embrace a wider view of identity," Herman says, "encouraging everyone to radiate their true selves."
Ahead of Cologne de Parfum's launch today, PAPER caught up with Herman to talk about Boy Smells and blurring the lines of masc and femme.
What was the inspiration behind this move into the fragrance space?
We've been fragrance lovers from day one and always knew that we wanted to expand this way. We're so excited that the time has finally come for us to bring this to life. Scent is a sacred and intimate part of your daily ritual. In my life, it has been an articulation of identity and an opportunity for self-exploration.
Why'd you decide to go the unisex route?
In a homogenous market where most products are marketed as either male, female or genderless, we use the word "genderful." It's a celebration of identity without boundaries. It's our version of neo-inclusion, acknowledging that one's full spectrum of self is always unfolding and developing. We are known for our signature genderful combinations of masculine and feminine olfactive notes, that dismantle outdated and binary ideas around gender and scent. If we can incorporate these subtle cultural shifts in the products we use every day, it encourages people to live in their full spectrum without compromise. Each scent embodies this perfect juxtaposition of masculinity and femininity. I say, unleash your power from wherever you find it.
"I say, unleash your power from wherever you find it."
What was the process like in creating these five fragrances?
We always start with visuals and emotions, the subtle connections between art, idols, pop culture, architecture and design. Each of the five brand-new, exclusive scents carries with them their own unique and modern aura, encouraging users to activate their own personal mixology of their identities. Using unexpected combinations of woods, florals, spices and fruits, they ultimately meant for a bold and authentic expression of self.
How is the process different from creating candle scents to fine fragrance scents different or similar?
We wanted to use the highest quality fragrance, natural materials and advanced master perfumery techniques. We got to use a broader and rarer palette of olfactive notes, ones that interact with the personal chemistry of the skin. We want to channel each wearer's unique nature to life, so the process was very intricate and intimate. It is different from candles in that there are many more aspects to it. Candles are about how you interact with your personal space. This is still very personal, but it is more about enhancing your quality of being at home.
For more info, visit boysmells.com.
- Top Notes: Saffron, Pineapple, Cardamom, Plum
- Mid Notes: Violet, Hazelnut, Coconut Water, Suede
- Dry Notes: Patchouli Fraction, Labdanum, Blond Woods
- Top Notes: Rhubarb, Cardamom, Pink Peppercorn
- Mid Notes: Rose Petals, Turkish Rose Absolute, Raspberry Blossom
- Dry Notes: Papyrus, Agar Wood, Sandalwood
- Top Notes: Rhubarb, Bergamot, Black Pepper
- Mid Notes: Violet, Black Tea, Tobacco Leaf, Incense, Orris
- Dry Notes: White Birch, Tanned Leather, Smoked Papyrus
- Top Notes: Bergamot, Mint Leaf, Green Peppercorn Galbanum
- Mid Notes: Orris, Mate, Tagete, Sandalwood
- Dry Notes: Vetiver, Cedarwood Virginia, Ambrox
"Flor de la Virgen"
- Top Notes: Pomelo, Lemon Rind, Fig Leaf
- Mid Notes: Saffron, Jasmine Petals, Ivy Leaves
- Dry Notes: Cistus, Olibanum, Labdanum, Clear Musks, Ambrox
Photos courtesy of Boy Smells
- You Can Now Buy a Kacey Musgraves 'Slow Burn' Candle - PAPER ›
- Behind the Making of Boy Smells' New LES Candle - PAPER ›
- Boy Smells Kush Collection Out Now - PAPER ›