“A man who embraces all emotions and is not afraid to show sensitivity,” says actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson when asked to define a true gentleman. “Someone who is compassionate. A feminist. Encouraged to embrace the traditional acts of chivalry, but with the consideration of not being sexist,” he adds. As the new face of the recently bowed Givenchy Gentleman, Taylor-Johnson embodies the delicate yet dauntless spirit of a valiant man.
The couture house’s initial Givenchy Gentleman launch in 1975 disrupted the fragrance industry with an unusual blend of patchouli and spices. The innovative cologne broke the trend of the time, combining spicy notes with an elegant composition for the man who wanted to stand out from the crowd.
The 2017 version of Givenchy Gentleman draws inspiration from the historic blend, reimagining the fragrance for the modern era. To capture the spirit of being strong and sensitive in equal measure, master perfumers Nathalie Lorson and Olivier Cresp crafted a scent with an unexpected floral twist. Lavender notes mix with a heart of noble iris, creating a composition that’s both elegant and seductive. Sweet pear adds a tender gentility, while a patchouli-leather accord gives nod to the original blend. “The fragrance is subtle and unique with a hint of masculine woody notes,” Taylor-Johnson explains. “I feel it’s a great choice for women too.”
In the video campaign—directed by Taylor-Johnson’s wife, acclaimed director Sam Taylor-Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey fame—we see the English actor (dapper in an undone tuxedo) put on a record after tenderly pausing to pet a kitten and dance to “Enjoy Yourself ” by rapper A+. A shirtless dancer (Aaron Doucette) and model (Elizabeth Salt) join in the revelry before Taylor-Johnson blissfully falls back into a pool.
“Hubert de Givenchy was a gentleman of his time,” says Taylor-Johnson, who feels the film perfectly captured his personality. “He once said, ‘True elegance is being yourself,’ a quote I live by.” How does he feel about working with his wife on the commercial? “We are both in sync creatively, so to collaborate is a blessing. There’s no one I trust more in the world than my wife.”
Spoken like a true gentleman.
Originally published in the November/December issue of Silicon Valley