Having traveled the world as the brand ambassador and face of Polo Ralph Lauren, Chris Collins developed a love of luxury and a deeper appreciation for fine fragrance. As the founder and scent storyteller behind his own fragrance brand, Collins brings his connoisseurship to create alluring and exotic scents.
Below, he opens up about the experiences that moved him and his vision for the Chris Collins brand.
When did you first fall in love with fragrance?
My earliest scent memory is of my father wearing the iconic Grey Flannel cologne. Everything about the scent fascinated me, from the bottle to the label to the flannel bag it came in. My Tokyo Blue fragrance is actually an homage to that memory.
My love of fragrance intensified during my teen years, when I first smelled Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men. I found the warm, spicy notes so sexy and hypnotic. To this day, I focus on scent blends that mesmerize.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Often enough, my inspiration comes from memories, like the story I shared about my father. Other times, my inspiration comes from travel. For 20 years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit great cities around the world as a brand ambassador for Polo Ralph Lauren. After New York City, where I’ve lived for 17 years, my favorite place in the world is France.
In France, I spent a few months in Mougins and Grasse—the birthplaces of fragrance—to study perfumery. That’s where I learned to structure a fragrance to tell a story. Many of the stories I want to tell come from another great French city, Paris, and the relationship it had with Manhattan between 1918 and 1937.
During that period (the Harlem Renaissance), artists like Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington were making adventurous work that resonated across the Atlantic and still move people today. In my fragrances, I wanted to capture the sexiness and charisma of those artists and the aliveness of Harlem, then and now.
Are Chris Collins fragrances all for men?
The short answer is no. I’m inspired by legendary men’s colognes, but at the same time, women have told me they love how they feel when they wear these scents. I think everyone should wear whatever fragrances they’re drawn to.
My scents are for people of any gender who want to channel their exotic side. They complement a confident and alluring state of mind that anyone can channel.
What’s the story behind the Dark Romance collection?
The Dark Romance fragrances are all extraits de parfum, meaning they have an intense concentration of 24 percent pure perfume oil. These are my most head-turning scents, with dark and opulent bottles to match.
What’s the story behind the Renaissance collection?
These are wearable, everyday scents that still convey strength and mystery.