Highsnobiety

Dries Van Noten isn't quite done celebrating his retirement. The legendary Belgian designer, who presented his final collection for his eponymous brand on June 22, has left us with another parting gift: Mystic Moss, a new perfume.

Van Noten, who expanded his design universe to include beauty in 2022, has been working on Mystic Moss since launching his debut fragrance collection, centered around "impossible combinations" — notes and ingredients that, at first glance, you'd think would clash.

Van Noten's personal favorite from the range is Cannabis Patchouli, a mossy, woody musk that juxtaposes the dark earthiness of cannabis and patchouli leaves with the bright freshness of bergamot and vetiver.

With Mystic Moss, the designer worked with perfumer Nicolas Bonneville to "create a fresher interpretation of the original scent." Just like its predecessor, the new creation also plays with unexpected pairings: Mystic Moss merges aquatic notes like salt and algae with edible touches of mandarin and cardamom.

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"When I work with the noses, I tell them to forget everything, take risks, and combine different ingredients together that you would think might never work," Van Noten says.

The designer, now 66, has been acutely aware of scent since he was a child. "I use all my senses to understand what is happening in the world," he tells Highsnobiety. Growing up, he "loved running around the garden, smelling the flowers, and in the kitchen, inhaling the aromas of what was cooking in the oven."

There's one scent memory, however, that remains particularly close to his heart. "My first memory of fragrance was my mother coming down the stairs wearing Shalimar [by Guerlain], signaling that she and my father were going out to the opera or the theater," he says. "The scent of Shalimar would fill the house, and that memory has stayed with me forever."

To Van Noten, fashion and fragrance are twin flames in their ability to capture and elicit emotion. "How do you feel when you walk in a garden?" he (hypothetically) questions, alluding to his own green thumb, which has often inspired his collections.

"How can you translate a certain feeling, a certain emotion? Those are the questions I have been exploring in my fashion collections that are now extended to beauty as well."

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