More than a fragrance, YSL Beauty’s MYSLF is a sign of our times.
When we start evaluating a fragrance, and particularly one that bears the name of a fashion House, we often think about the signs of its times. What is the perceived intention and meaning behind it when we hold it against the culture of today and who could be the person wearing it? Never mind the celebrity face that the House has lensed for its campaigns because said person is often us.
But before we map out the interpretation of YSL Beauty’s MYSLF, it’s worth taking a trip back to 1971 to look at Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent’s first male fragrance advertisement for the House titled Yves Saint Laurent pour Homme. He sits naked on a stack of leather cushions and the advertisement’s tagline was “For 3 years, this eau de toilette has been mine. Today, it can be yours.”. And men of that generation all aspired to smell like the era’s heady mix of patchouli, moss, and vetiver—never mind their sexuality or their carnal inclinations.
Come 2024 in an era where there’s a physical and proverbial need for speed, MYSLF has been imagined by VP perfumers Daniela Andrier, Christophe Raynaud and senior perfumer Antoine Maisondieu to have an immediacy that telegraphs one’s taste in real life. If we’re also doing it digitally on social media, then YSL Beauty’s MYSLF is the physical version of a filter. It opens up with an intensely soapy and metallic burst of Calabrian bergamot, which in Andrier’s words, is ” “acts like a mirror” to reflect a puritanical image of what lies beneath its waters.
Lurking beneath are orange blossoms which is a sign of what the fragrance is about—”I’m a man and I don’t care if a fragrance I use has flowers in it”. After all, the YSL man has already donned heeled boots and laced on a bow. Or in Andrier’s words, “the only raw material perfumers have at their disposal that can express, depending on how it is fashioned, every stage of life and gender: a newborn, a bride, a man…”.
But the thing about YSL Beauty’s MYSLF and how one would perceive it however—a metallic floral, aldehydic fougère, or even a combination of the two—requires once again, a physical presence. Its base consists of Indonesian patchouli and AmbrofixTM, a 100% natural biotech material derived from sugar cane that brings to mind a peppery-cashmere ideal. Said spiciness turns the Calabrian bergamot and orange blossoms into quite the narcotic one, a little dangerous and hedonistic. No surprises there, that its campaign celebrity is Austin Butler.
“The great challenge was to create a scent that was very diffusive, but not aggressive. We had to express a man who wasn’t a caricature, in all his subtlety,” says Christophe Raynaud and as such, the beauty of YSL Beauty’s MYSLF is that its specific scent offers a broad range of expressions. Reality or symbolism of one’s self? Is he seductive or just suggesting he is? He’ll be conscious of his decisions though, as each bottle contains recycled glass and the boxes are FSCTM MIX certified. The fragrance is even made in factories using 100% renewable energy.