Jason Wu's first fragrance speaks to his childhood

NEW YORK — Scents often bring on memories and Jason Wu packed a personal one into his first fragrance, that of jasmine. But finding just the right raw ingredients was a process.

The designer told The Associated Press at the Fragrance Foundation Awards, where the packaging for his namesake eau de parfum was nominated, that a niche fragrance like his demands an intimate connection. He smelled a lot of different raw ingredients when he was creating it with senior perfumer Frank Voelkl at Fermenich.

"And there was one smell that was so captivating to me and it turned out it was Jasmine. ... It just kind of brought me back to 5-year-old me in Taiwan picking those flowers with my cousins," Wu said.

With top notes of fig and pink pepper, a woodsy touch at the base and hints of iris, it was the jasmine sambac flower that stood out. Wu created it last year and it launched recently in a bottle reminiscent of a boxy clutch he showed on the runway that fall. The top of the thick glass base is in a circular gold design that looks like the handles of his handbags at that time.

The biggest challenge, he said, was creating something that will endure.

"When we design a fragrance ... it's something that is forever," Wu said. "You have to really commit and you have to really know how to encompass your brand in one little bottle. That means everything from the cap, the bottle, the paper carton, down to the scent."

The liquid inside is a nude pink, a common hue for the designer. The box is a darker shade. And the floral notes in the perfume refer to the many floral prints he almost always includes in runway collections.

"I think that scent can evoke memories like nothing else you know. Like a scent of something can bring you the richest memories back," Wu said.

On Tuesday, however, Carolina Herrera walked away with the fragrance foundation's women's packaging of the year, for Good Girl by the fragrance company Puig.

Wu said he's proud of his first effort.

"It's not something that's put together by committee," he said, "and it's something that has a significant personal meaning to me."

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