On screen, the legendary German actor Klaus Kinski (18 October 1926 - 23 November 1991) was best known for his collaborations with director Werner Herzog, including the classics Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) and Fitzcarraldo (1982), a trilogy which pushed performance to the brink of all-consuming madness.
In real life, Kinski was often equally electrifying. According to Peter Geyer, head of Kinski Productions, which manages the actor’s legacy, his name came to stand for “leadership in extravagantly non-conformist thought,” a polite way of describing a man whose hell-raising scandalized even his most free-thinking peers.
How do you go about creating a fragrance to capture the character of such a complicated man?
Geyer took on that challenge to mark the 20th anniversary of Kinski’s death. He wasn’t interested in simply merchandising the actor’s name. Nor did he want any gimmicky association with the idea of “smelling like KIaus Kinski”. Instead, he wanted a luxury product that would convey a rare, precious, arcane personality.
So he sought out Berlin-based perfumer Geza Schoen, who has earned a worldwide reputation for precisely those qualities with the Escentric Molecules range of fragrances. Kinski Productions has licensed the team behind Escentric – Schoen, Jeff Lounds, Me Company – to shepherd KINSKI the fragrance into being. KINSKI is an ingenious olfactory homage to a man whose complex personality enthralled and appalled a generation. It is a richly decadent, textured scent with heady top notes including cassis, juniper and castoreum; a heart with oceanic notes inspired by Kinski’s love of the sea; and a base of animalic and woody notes that reflect his own almost feral sensuality. “The ingredients list for KINSKI comes into its own when you look at his lifestyle,” says Schoen. “It was excessive, exuberant, debauched. So I instantly thought of something animalic, dirty…yet with me, there is always something clean too. It perfectly fits with this ambivalent thing that Kinski had. It’s an old cliche that there is a fine line between genius and madness. In Kinski’s case, it was a knife edge, and he danced along it his whole life.
He was part international sophisticate, part idiot savant. And that kind of tension means that KINSKI is a perfect fit with our odd portfolio of fine conceptual fragrances.