Admittedly making a little mockery of the holier-than-thou celebrity fragrance industry, the creators border on that line that straddles luxury and ridiculousness.
by Eric Wilson
YEARS ago, the mostly plastic, though undeniably authentic, transsexual performance artist Amanda Lepore gave up drinking, a hazard of the trade for those who make their livings in nightclubs. When she is on the clock, Ms. Lepore asks for a glass of ginger ale in a champagne flute.
Still, Ms. Lepore reeks of something bubbly, just as she did the other day when she walked into the Artware Editions gallery at 327 West 11th Street. Everywhere Ms. Lepore goes, people ask — though it may not be the first question that springs to mind — what are you wearing?
“I don’t drink, but I smell like I do,” Ms. Lepore casually announced, by way of introduction to a new fragrance that bears her name. Amanda, it is called. Like Ms. Lepore, the scent comes in a sparkly round package. It costs $950 and includes, among its many ingredients, a dash of Cristal.
Ms. Lepore, wearing a bombshell ensemble — a black Patricia Field skirt, black lace stockings and a bra from Agent Provocateur — was soon surrounded by her collaborators, Christophe Laudamiel, the perfumer; his partner, Christoph Hornetz, who designed the disco-ball-shaped bottle (together, they are known as Les Christophs); and Jon Tomlinson and Rebecca Epstein Kong, the owners of the gallery, which sells functional works by brand-name artists (bookshelves by Donald Judd; porcelain by Cindy Sherman). Amanda is supposed to be art, as opposed to, say, the weirdest celebrity fragrance ever.
“It’s not like Paris Hilton’s,” Mr. Hornetz groaned.
In 2003, Les Christophs had approached La Lepore at a party and asked if they could make a scent in her honor. It wasn’t intended to be sold commercially, Mr. Laudamiel said, but the gallery asked to make a limited edition.
This is why Amanda smells as distinctive as she does. Mr. Laudamiel started with a base of steamed rice, added mandarins, bergamot, orange flowers, strawberry and cucumber. Fittingly, the Champagne note is artificial.
“People will now recognize it, even before they see me,” Ms. Lepore said.
They might not soon forget, either, as the scent has a tendency to hang around, even when the party is over.“It’s fermented,” she said.
Amanda Lepore is an absolutely fascinating character. In my circle, she is most widely recognized as the subject of David LaChapelle's lens and her promotion of MAC cosmetics and Heatherette (RIP). An echo in her own right of artistic pioneers before like Orlan, Amanda is always challenging our notions of sexuality, appropriateness, and style.