By Deborah Fulsang
Erika Bearman, the Senior VP of Global Communications for Oscar de la Renta—better known by her Twitter handle @OscarPRGirl, has added a hit hipness to the haute-ness of that iconic American label. DEBORAH FULSANG chatted fragrance with her when she popped into Toronto recently to officially introduce the brand’s latest spritz, Something Blue.
QUESTION: 197,421 Twitter followers; 542,329 Facebook fans: How has the social-media success of your OscarPRGirl status affected your style?
ERICA BEARMAN: It’s affected it a lot. First of all, working for Oscar has changed the way I dress and my style and the way that I put myself together. I have been working for him for almost five years. There are things that Oscar has always loved, things that he’s been dong for 50 years that I have come to appreciate: His love of colour, texture, embroidery, things that are bold. Oscar’s clothes are really not for a wallflower.
QUESTION: This dress you’re wearing is very understated though (a dark-blue sheath).
BEARMAN: Yeah, and he does understated with the best of them. Little things, like Oscar always says that it’s so chic to have the backs of your knees covered with a pencil skirt—the back of your knee being one of the least attractive parts of your body. I think about that.
The other day I had on some dress and he looked at me and he said you need a belt.
QUESTION: And you listen when Oscar says you need a belt!
BEARMAN: Oh when Oscar says you need a belt, you put on a belt. Standing in front of him everyday and also being a witness to his aesthetic has changed my style absolutely.
QUESTION: Your favorite fragrance?
BEARMAN: My new favorite is Santo Domingo from our Essential Luxuries Collection. It’s very masculine; I generally wear men’ s fragrances. Of the six in this new collection, Santo Domingo is the most masculine: it’s smoky, and peppery and it has tobacco in it, which I love.
I have other men’s fragrances that I have worn throughout the years: Terre d’Hermès I love; Issey Miyake for men; and there’s a new one from Cartier that I can’t remember what its called, that I also really like.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about your attitude towards fragrance and maybe how your mother affected your attitude towards fragrance?
BEARMAN: Actually my mother is horribly allergic to fragrances and is one of those people that would complain about other people’s fragrances. I grew up in a house where I had to be very careful of what I wore around her because everything gave her a headache. But I love fragrance, I douse myself in it, I mean when I find something I love, it’s everywhere.
It’s funny, I invited my team—all the girls that work with me at Oscar—over to my apartment for dinner at Christmas time and they got into the elevator and they were like ‘we can smell you in the elevator’. I love that idea—it’s a very romantic idea—that you can be recognized by your smell.
QUESTION: What did you do as a kid? Were you stealth and tried to conceal your perfume wearing?
BEARMAN: I don’t really remember, I guess I just needed to have her approval. It’s funny, I was just telling someone that scent can be very nostalgic—of all the senses I think it has the strongest recall in our memories. I recently was very nostalgic for a fragrance I wore in Junior High into High School. That was one of The Gap fragrances. I walked into The Gap ten years later and bought it because I was so nostalgic, like I needed to feel sixteen or something. It was called Gap Heaven. They came out with a set of fragrances and they were like Heaven, Grass—whatever elements. There was something about it. I don’t know what it was but I suddenly felt like I was laying on the floor of my childhood bedroom talking on the phone for hours to the boy I had a crush on.
QUESTION: What does Oscar smell like?
BEARMAN: He smells amazing. You can smell him coming and going. If he was sitting over there you could smell him. To me, he smells a lot like Santo Domingo from the Essential Luxuries collection—the one that I had said was my favorite: Sort of sandalwood-ish to me. It’s a very strong smell but unmistakable, and he smells great. I think he mixes things.
What’s great about working on a fragrance project with Oscar is he has very strong opinions about smells: He really loves things and doesn’t like other things, which makes it great to work with him on a project because he knows exactly what he likes. Or he can suggest something that we all have never heard of which happens all the time.
QUESTION: Always the best fragrances are ones that push the envelope…
BEARMAN: Yeah totally, and you know what another part of that is Oscar is a world-class gardener and so he knows his flowers and plants very well. He even knows the scientific name, the Latin; it’s remarkable.
QUESTION: How should your fragrance make you feel?
BEARMAN: Like yourself. However you want to feel, if you want to feel sexy it should make you fee sexy. If you want to feel feminine or masculine or whatever, it’s about a mood.
QUESTION: Do you have a perfume ritual?
BEARMAN: I spray it everywhere, really everywhere. All over my neck, all over my clothes, on my arms, in my hair if it’s dirty; hair holds it really well.
QUESTION: Where does your ritual come from? I am always curious about people who spray it in the air and walk through; it seems as though they are afraid of it or something.
BEARMAN: Maybe it’s just my personality; I’m sort of a more-is-more kind of girl.
Oscar de la Renta SOMETHING BLUE is meant to embody romance and feminism. It is a white floral toilette with a striking heart of stephanotis or “bridal veil”, lily of the valley and lychee. It sparkles at first sniff with mandarin and linden blossom and warms over time with its base of vanilla and white musk.
EDP, $85 (50 ml), www.oscardelarenta.com, www.saksfifthavenue.com, www.holtrenfrew.com, www.thebay.com,