Danny Bowien usually comes home smelling like onions and chilies, but a new collaboration has him aligning himself with a different kind of aroma. The chef and Mission Chinese Food founder is the latest to collaborate with Hawthorne, an up-and-coming men's care brand by Brian Jeong and Phillip Wong. The childhood friends founded their brand with the concept of making grooming a more individual experience, using a questionnaire and artificial intelligence to personalize each product for each customer. Eliminating the need for one-size-fits-all drugstore products that probably aren't actually best for everyone, all with natural ingredients and an affordable price tag, the company has truly helped to bring men's grooming and skincare into the individualized, high-tech age. And what better way to show off the evocative qualities of a tailor-made product than by creating a multi-sensory project alongside one of today's most promising culinary names?
Enter Botanic and Woody, the new fragrance that Jeong, Wong, and Bowien developed in collaboration with master perfumer Olivier Gillotin, who's built a long career making olfactory masterpieces for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Tom Ford. The scent mixes flowers like North African blue chamomile, rose, and ylang-ylang with Haitian vetiver and Moroccan sandalwood to create a compelling argument that floral scents shouldn't fall in a gendered stereotype. But that isn't the only revolution going on here, as it also highlights Bowien's personal change of preference from cologne to earthy scents, a development of sophistication that Hawthorne's founders helped to foster. Obviously, a scent that results from melding the minds of a culinary expert, a forward-thinking men's care company, and a seasoned nose is nothing short of an experience. Bowien, Jeong, and Wong opened up to L'Officiel USA about their experiences collaborating and just what feelings the new fragrance creates.
What first sparked your interest in fragrance?
Brian Jeong: The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr and my subsequent conversations with the fragrance house, Givaudan.
Danny Bowien: I was really into cologne when I was younger. Tommy Hilfiger was my first cologne. Hawthorne opened me up to this more recently because I started using soaps and lotions they gave me with very earthy fragrances. It got me thinking about my fragrance more, especially since I come home smelling like onions and spicy chilies on most days.
How did you end up coming together for this collaboration?
Phillip Wong: It all happened serendipitously. Similarly, with the rest of our collaborations, we never try to force the issue. Once we started the framework of this fragrance, no one but Danny made sense for such a dynamic and colorful scent.
DB: I met Phil and Brian from Hawthorne through my friend Lauren Devine, actually at Mission Chinese Food in Manhattan. After I first met them we wound up crossing paths a lot because there's a lot of overlap with people we know and places we hang out. So I look at this as a merging of two worlds. It naturally made sense for us to work together.
If your fragrance was the star of its own movie, which actor would play the starring role?
PW: 1991 Keanu.
DB: Jaden Smith.
What color does it smell like?
PW: Acid Tie Dye.
If you had to place Botanic and Woody in an iconic decade past, which one would it be?
PW: Spring in '90s NYC.
DB: Maybe the '90s, or now. It's very current.
What item from your wardrobe would you compare it to?
BJ: My lavender Opening Ceremony X Vans leather Old Skool - a distinct and elevated, yet still comfortable take on an otherwise unremarkable (in the best way possible) shoe.
DB: My black Telfar thermal halter top. It's super comfortable and I can wear it every day.
What genre of music do you think Botanic and Woody most aligns with?
PW: More of a colorful playlist than a genre. Aphex Twin, Sade, Caribou, Philip Glass, Toro Y Moi, Jai Paul, and Yves Tumor.
DB: Modern R&B, like Blood Orange.
If your fragrance had a night out on the town, what drink would it order at the bar?
PW: A mezcal negroni.
If you were to relate Botanic and Woody to a book, what would it be? Why?
BJ: The short story "Winter Dreams" by F.Scott Fitzgerald. Both may provide superficial entertainment to most, but deeper, they have subjective themes that lack uniformity across all readers.
DB: Harry Potter. I'm reading [the books] for the first time with my son, but it's such an inescapable piece of culture that I feel like I already know them. It's like becoming more familiar with something I already know.
If your fragrance had a soundtrack, what three sounds would play once you spray the scent?
PW: A flutter of hummingbird wings, fireworks, and a harp strum.
DB: Windchimes, a woodpecker, and waves crashing.
If it wasn’t called Botanic and Woody, what would it be called?
PW: It was originally codenamed "King George" by our perfumer, Olivier. I thought it was a nice mix of grandeur and curiosity. That or “Serenity Now."
DB: Woody and Botanic