Bella Sugar — It’s no secret that Gwen Stefani is an enormous fan of Japanese culture. For her new collection of Harajuku Lovers fragrances, Wicked Style, she turned again to Harajuku, the trend-setting Tokyo neighborhood that has inspired her for years. Here, the singer-actress-designer talks about the fragrance-making process, her love of Japan, and why she says she’s the same as everyone.
BellaSugar: How did you design the outfits for the fragrance bottles?
Gwen Stefani: We never thought we would get this far with doing so many of the girls. We wanted to go back to the roots of being inspired by Harajuku, the actual place. [Looking at] the different styles of Harajuku girls, we went from there. Then a lot of the stuff is from real costumes.
BellaSugar: What about the scents? How did you develop them?
GS: We wanted to keep everything really light and fun and happy and fruity and sweet. Coty helped me a lot because there was so much to do. Imagine trying to pick five different ones at the same time. I would be on tour spraying it on everybody saying, “Which one do you like?”
We did it so long ago. Then they come out and you smell them again and you’re like, “Oh my god they smell so good!” But when you’re in the middle of it, you kind of can’t tell anymore. You’re like, “I don’t know, I don’t know” and [Coty] is like, “We need to pick two today.” It’s kind of a traumatic process, but I really love how mine turned out . . . I always thought it wouldn’t be so hard to choose, but it’s really difficult â€” especially when you start to mess with them. If they send you something and you’re like, “Well, maybe a little bit more . . . ” then you really don’t know. And then you think, “Oh no, maybe I was wrong. Take the orange out â€” what was I thinking?” It’s an abstract, weird kind of personal thing.
BellaSugar: Do you come up with a theme for each collection?
GS: We look at what we liked about the last one and we evolve it from there. Coty helps a lot; they give me a bunch of things and I smell and smell and smell and edit, edit, edit and then make suggestions. It’s really fun â€” but not when you’re pregnant! When I was pregnant, I was like, “I can’t smell. Everything smells bad.” But these weren’t [developed] during that time.
BellaSugar: Can you talk about your connection to Japanese culture and how it translates to your American audience?
GS: My dad actually worked for Yamaha motorcycles for my whole life, so there was a Japanese connection. He would come home with little presents from there, so I had that connection really early. When I finally went there with No Doubt, it was like, “This is totally where I should be from.” It’s so traditional, yet so modern. It’s just so creative and everybody’s trendy, individual, and unique and original. I really loved it and always wanted to go back there as much as I could. No Doubt never got as big as I hoped we would get there . . . Then when I wrote the [solo] record, I had this one line on “What You Waiting For?” talking about how I was so nervous to make the record, but then I thought about if I do, I get to go back to Japan. Then it turned into this whole idea of the Harajuku Girls. I’m just a huge fan.
BellaSugar: When you smell someone wearing one of your scents, how does that feel?
GS: The only time that has ever really happened with my friends on tour. The L.A.M.B. fragrance was one that I really like â€” it’s so recognizable. I gave it out for Christmas to everyone. So whenever anyone wears it, I know. What’s great is getting to do so many, because it’s so fun to move on. I used to be that kind of girl that wanted one scent, but now being able to have so many different fragrances and change it up all the time? I love that.
BellaSugar: Are there any beauty tricks or secrets that you could share?
GS: I’m just the same as everyone â€” searching, trying lotions and creams. But I take the best care of myself as I can. I eat really good, I work out a lot. And there’s training and drinking water and all the stuff they say to do. I don’t have any answers or tricks. If I did I’d probably sell it.