Imagine to be able to condense in a perfum the sensation of a Summer beach day with your friends, next to a camp fire and a great cup of wine. That is what wanted to communicate with their first fragance Stefanie Mayr, designer, artist and founder of Elternhaur brand, and Daniel Plattenberg, philosopher and brand creative. Together they have created an artistic project that is a perfume: Dreckig bleiben, created by the perfumist Mark Buxton Ucartier, Le Labo or Comme des Garçons). We talk with Daniel Plettemberg about that interesting project and the importance to stay true to yourself.
How did the idea of Dreckig bleiben sprang?
Elternhaus, owned by Stefanie Mayr is a design and fashion label, that is deeply rooted in the Hamburg punk and squatter community. I am a brand creative and a philosopher. We know each other for quite some time and it happened by accident that we discovered each others love for perfumes. We came up with the idea for a perfume when we were standing in Stefanie’s fashion store and we were surrounded by the message “Dreckig bleiben“ and we thought: That’s it! “Dreckig bleiben“ is a greeting or a saying amongst Hamburg punks and squatters and means nothing else but “stay dirty“. Stefanie lived amongst these squatters for several years and when she started her fashion label she printed “Dreckig bleiben“ on a number of the most different items: from T-Shirt to caps… And the message is understood and translated by most people into “be authentic, be as you are, don’t pretend, just be!“ It is a contradiction to the superficiality we are facing all the time, we play roles and try to fit in society and the times and spaces when we can be our real selves are becoming smaller and smaller…
How did the collaboration between you and the renowned perfumist Mark Buxton born?
We had this „Dreckig bleiben“ and this idea of sitting at a campfire, so we decided smoke should play the essential part of this perfume. But of course in a transcendent way… No one wants to smell of old cold smoke… But still we thought the smell has some special beauty about it.
And then, one perfume designer immediately came to our mind, who would be able and so creative to work on this: Mark Buxton, who created some of the best woody perfumes ever made and has worked by Cartier, Givenchy, Le Labo or Comme des Garçons. We could convince him and – Thank God – he had by accident a little bit time to squeeze in our crazy project.
Why do you consider Dreckig bleiben as an artistic project?
We see this as an art project. If we would aim for the big money we couldn’t have made this perfume: we have too many creative decisions made that cost too much, but we believed in it: So the wood cap of the perfume is all hand made, we decided to produce the perfume with one of the big perfume making companies in Grasse, France…
Also the scent itself is clearly not mainstream: it is very wearable and nice, we have a very high rate of people that like the scent, but a typical reaction is really: “I have never smelled anything like that, this is really new!”. So we decided that it is nothing for the big perfume store chains. It is a perfume that needs to be discovered by the customers, it takes time on the skin. We will sell it in very few perfume stores in the world, at the moment we are in Hamburg and Berlin (and online of course) and are in contact with a very high class department store in London and try to cover Tokyo, New York, Barcelona and few other cities this summer.
We are very proud as well that New York based photographer Janine Gordon allowed us to use her photo for the campaign. It is from an open-air concert in hot summer and people are dancing in the dust. We loved the energy and the photos were so close to our message that we really wanted her to participate in this project. T.Raumschmiere is a friend and one of the big creative names when it comes to electronic music in Germany. When we thought of the website, we wanted him to create a piece for that website, like a sound sculpture fitting to our scent sculpture.
How do you see the relationship between art and the world of fragance? Do you see capturing a feeling in a bottle as a piece of art?
Absolutely! I have the feeling that when you look on the mainstream market for perfumes it has become totally boring: everyone is copying each other, there are no real new ideas and inspirations… they must come from the niche perfume market. And here in the last decade a lot has happened, many new names, new ideas, brands like Comme des Garcons have opened totally new dimensions. And here it really becomes art. Suddenly a perfume is not just a smell anymore, it becomes a scented journey a smelling sculpture.
How was the creation process? Why is the Wood so important, both in the formula and the packaging?
… and then came the wood…Of course, no camp fire without wood. But we both love woody scents and it was clear when we have Mark Buxton as the perfume creator he would be the best to come up with a great woody base note for the smoke to shine…
Mark made a stunning and surprising first version, we just had to add a little lightness and easiness to the perfume and then we were there, so we experimented with a citrusy top note and we had it: our perfume!
The result it is surely not a mass market perfume, that means at first: it is quite different on different skins, and it is also an edgy perfume. But again it is very wearable. We tested it with men and women and every gender inbetween and it works for so many people. But is it for everyone? No, thank God
¿How to condense the “Dreckig bleiben” attitude in a fragance?
We think that this “Dreckig bleiben” is not just a feeling squatter and punks know… But we all enjoy a summer day in the park or at the beach and we don’t care how we look, we play with our children and make a fire, we enjoy in the evening a glass of red next to the camp fire or the barbeque and we can relax and really be who we are, wearing our oldest jogging trouser, not caring how our hair is looking and having the smell of a full day in summer on our skin… A moment where we are true and real!
It is not a bit contradictory to offer a product whose underlying idea is the negation of superficiality in a limited number and available only in some shops? Or, on the contrary, do you see it as a defence of the handmade and the original?
We think that the world has enough mass market products where brands work with different forms of superficialities (and in my main job, I am working exactly on this). We aimed more to create an object d’art, something, seldom rare and unique. This is a form of exclusivity, of course, but we are coming from another angle, it is not about exclusion (as the base of exclusivity)… we want a real handmade product that is made with all the love and care of the manufacturer: like the best selfmade marmalade from Grand-ma: seldom and rare: yes! Exclusive: no.
Do you think nowadays people needs to recover their real them, the comfort of their sneakers, as you claimed?
I am also giving lectures in philosophy. And when we research how people react on this ever faster world with more and more possibilities, people describe this often as a labyrinth. Today we have to make more big decisions in a year, than our grand parents had to do in their life time.
In this labyrinth it has become very difficult to navigate, to find the right ways and to make the right decisions. Especially in a world where so many fundamental basic values are not existing anymore.
So the best person to rely on is yourself. So it becomes more and more important to trust yourself, to find your real self and to be your real self. Possibly “Dreckig bleiben” is a little help to do this .