What happens when Brooklyn’s hottest perfume house and one of Britain’s most iconic bands blur the worlds of music and fragrance? That’s precisely what D.S. & Durga and Duran Duran have done with a new collaboration distilling four decades of hits into scent. As the four-piece limited edition collection launches, we asked Simon Le Bon to retell his personal story in fragrance, weaving career highs and childhood memories into aromatic nostalgia.
What’s your most vivid scent memory?My mum used to wear this lily-of-the-valley perfume, and we also had lily-of-the-valley growing in the garden outside our house. It was the most incredible smell. Now, whenever I smell lily-of-the-valley, it takes me right back to being a five-year-old boy growing up in Pinner in the 1960s. Also, there was this deodorant I had when I was a teenager. It was kind of a woody, musky smell. I'm certain they don't make it anymore, but whenever I smell anything that smells remotely like it, it takes me right back to this discotheque. I was falling in love with this girl, and there was this song that was always playing – 'Rock You Baby' by George McCrae. That smell takes me straight onto that discotheque dance floor.
And your most memorable career moment?We played Band Aid, we played Live Aid, but I think the most memorable moments were when we were given our lifetime achievement awards. Justin Timberlake presented one to us at the Brits, and then at the MTV Awards, we got one from Kelly Osborne and Avril Lavigne. That was probably most memorable – our manager, Wendy completely pulled the wool over our eyes. We thought we were there to give an award; we had no clue we were getting one. It was a total surprise, and an amazing moment.
Outside the collection, do any of your hits evoke a specific scent for you?Ooooh yes. When I think of 'Save A Prayer', I think of shooting that video down in Sri Lanka. There was a smell in the air – you could always smell burning wood. Now, whenever I smell wood smoke, I have a very strong memory of Sri Lanka and 'Save A Prayer'.
Of your 40-year career, what has been your favourite era and why?It's really mean, to ask me to choose one! I have a problem with the whole idea of favourites – in choosing them, you exclude yourself from an awful lot in life. Whenever we come up with new music or a new album, it astounds us – it makes me tingle when I hear things played back on the speakers. We have this charmed, joyous life. We all love our jobs. We value our past and all the moments we've been through, but what's really important to this band is the fact that we feel we have a future.
Favourite real-world smell?I love the smell that comes up from warm stone when the first drops of summer rain fall on it. There is a word for it – petrichor – Robert Harris mentions it in his novel Pompeii. David Seth Moltz and I talked about it.
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