Isn't it a little hard in this economy to pitch a scent to consumers with the image of you frolicking in Monte Carlo? Especially one called I Am King?
There wasn't any frolicking -- and it's not about evoking money or status. We shot the campaign in Monte Carlo because it was a beautiful background. It's about celebrating men and self-affirmation.
What's with the name?
It's something that was instilled in me when I was younger -- my grandmother used to call me her little king.
And your last N.Y. Fashion Week show touched on royalty a little bit, right?
There's a king in all of us, that if we just answer the call it's there for us to take. This fragrance is dedicated to Martin Luther King [Jr.], Muhammad Ali and -- especially right now -- Barack Obama. The best way to explain what I Am King is about is to look at a picture of Barack Obama.
I've read that creating [your first fragrance] Unforgivable took 666 attempts before you found the right formulation. Was it easier the second time out?
This scent took longer -- it's like your sophomore album. You've got to make sure it's right. We went through something like a thousand variations.
You say you're really involved with every step, so is it you in a white lab coat holding beakers?
I'm not in there in a white coat, but I'm in there with the guys in the white coats. It's like a marriage. I was born to do this because I'm very anal-retentive and I'm a perfectionist and I think that's what you really need to make a great fragrance.
Was there a particular note or scent in the mix that triggers something for you?
Definitely the Imperial French berry; it was designed especially for this fragrance.
What does it bring to mind?
It's like when you see someone with the simplest black suit and white shirt on -- it's straight to the point and beautiful.
Were you involved in the design of the bottle as well?
Yeah, I wanted it to be this very sleek, modern, architectural design, a beautiful, regal piece of glass that would sit on a very futuristic king's mantle.
Is this for a different customer than Unforgivable? Or a different occasion?
It's definitely designed for [when you're wearing] your tuxedo and when you're cleaning up well.