One-on-one: Celebrity photographer-turned-perfumer Russell James
Celebrity photographer-turned-perfumer Russell James was in Dubai this January to launch a new fragrance brand, Raw Spirit.
The Australian-born visual artist has worked with a remarkable portfolio of international clients, such as Rolex, Donna Karan International, Victoria’s Secret, Evian and Revlon.
An impressive list of international VIPs, socialites and supermodels, including Adriana Lima and Isabeli Fontana, flew in to the emirate to celebrate the launch event, held at the Four Seasons hotel in Dubai.
Out of them all, Namibian supermodel Behati Prinsloo was personally selected by James to be the face of the brand.
“Behati is so perfect for Raw Spirit… She has the authenticity and amazing natural energy,” James said. “It’s really as if we’ve brought Raw Spirit to life in human form.”
OBS Lifestyle, a renowned distributor of niche luxury products in the GCC, brings the brand to the GCC.
So far, James has released five fragrances in 100ml bottle sizes. These are: Bijou Vert, Citadelle, Desert Blush, Wild Fire and Winter Oak.
“I had an art collaboration with indigenous communities around the world, original communities, native American communities, and it was all about understanding each other’s culture and moving forward together,” James told Aficionado in an interview.
“Spending time in these remarkable and often remote indigenous communities, I often come across stories related to culture and lifestyle, but quite often there would be these amazing raw ingredients… These were often very rare and sustainability was a very important issue,” he added recalling the days that led to the creation of Raw Spirit.
The birth of a notion
Raw Spirit is the result of a creative marriage between James and renowned nose Harry Fremont, who has created well-recognized and favoured perfumes over the past years for the likes of Estée Lauder, Jennifer Lopez, Lancome, Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford and Valentino, to name a few.
James recalled how Fremont thought “this was something that was raw and real for him, because he had the visual inspiration and then the raw material to work on.”
“I by no means am a master perfumer, but I live through the vision and the story. What I think has been resonating equally with men and women is that the story is real,” he said, emphasising the raw elements from which the fragrances are created.
“I think I am a living example of conscious consumerism. When I buy something, I could have five things that are good, but if there is one that I can connect with because I understand the story and the authenticity of it, that’s the one that I’m attracted to, wanting to know more about what’s behind it,” he reveals.