When Michael Kors set out to create his newest scent, he was bored of perfume. “For me, fragrance is all about capturing and expressing a mood,” said the designer, who wanted seduction and surprise, rather than “the same old fragrances that are either all floral or all citrus.”
With Sexy Ruby, the next installment in his award-winning fragrance collection, Kors did away with the insider-y notion of base, top, and middle notes. Instead, Sexy Ruby is the sum of two parts—a sexy accord and ruby accord, explained Daniel Annese, global brand president of Aramis and designer fragrances at Estée Lauder, in an interview.
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Housed in a glossy red bottle, the juice smells like citrus fruit, berries, and vanilla bean; it’s sugar-y, but not in a cloying, headache-inducing way, which is no small feat. “Most of our fragrances are luxurious, but Sexy Ruby really emphasizes that,” Kors added. “I wanted to create a fragrance that a woman could put on, walk into a room, and really capture everyone’s attention.”
Sexy Ruby is a reflection of Kors’ current muses—a motley group of women that includes Soo Joo Park, Martha Hunt, Naomie Harris, and Serayah McNeil. “I’m a big fan of Empire, so she’s been on my radar for the past couple of years,” he said of McNeil who stars as singer Tiana Brown. “She’s strong, seductive and fearless, which is exactly what Sexy Ruby is all about.”
The fragrance marks McNeil’s first official foray into beauty, but she’s been inadvertently preparing for the role since childhood. “My aunt is an aesthetician and she got me into makeup. It was always part of my life,” said McNeil at the London launch of Sexy Ruby, where she described the fragrance as, “fruity at first and mature in the way that it’s not as sweet. It’s citrus without being so sweet and rosy.” Here, she discusses drugstore makeup, her favorite childhood scents, and why she believes in vision boarding.
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Her approach to skincare.
My skin’s sensitive but I do a lot of natural products. I do like St. Ives Facial Scrub. I’ll do African Black Soap for face wash and I’ll do Argon oil for moisturizer and maybe SPF. Really simple and basic. Kiehl’s has a really moisturizing lotion that I love because my skin is darker than most. Some SPFs leave a chalky look, but that doesn’t. Kiehl’s works; it really blends in and is really moisturizing.
Her favorite foundations.
I love Makeup For Ever’s foundation stick. I also love the Giorgio Armani. I have the dropper one [Maestro]. My makeup artist on set was using it and I was like, “what the heck is this?” It’s so nice and I actually got so many compliments when I used it. I love to get made up on the red carpet and have on a lot of makeup, but every day I’m not a made up type of person. I don’t like putting powder on all day. I just want to gloss and go.
The makeup she buys at drugstores.
I live by True Match concealer; it’s so bright for the under eyes. I use L’Oreal’s Voluminous mascara. The colors come in grey-black or you can get black-black, which I love. It has a curved brush. I’ll get a mauve NYX lip pencil and pair it with a gloss or my favorite; there’s Myth from M.A.C, a really bright nude for me. I’ll put it in the center and mix it around.
Her first fragrance.
Curve! It smells so sweet; it’s crazy that’s what I liked at that age. It’s cute and pink and the writing’s all bubbly so that was my little thing when I was younger. When I did wear it, I don’t think I wore perfume but I liked it. My mom always went there [Bath and Body Works] because they had that sale once a year. That’s when I fell in love with vanilla because they had multiple vanilla scents.
Why she keeps a vision board.
I started my first vision board when I was eighteen. My mom got me into it. She told me to sit down and write my goals and be specific. What do you want? I wrote, “I want to act.” I still have the paper that I wrote in 2015. I said I wanted to be signed to UTA because they’re a really great agency for younger talent. I said that one of the labels I wanted to be signed to was Columbia. I wanted to be on a show, go to fashion week, and be in magazines—and these things start happening. I think it motivates you because anything you put your mind to, you do it. People think it’s magic. No, I think you really walk in your destiny and you create that energy for yourself. I always come up with new ideas and add them to my list.
Michael Kors Sexy Ruby Eau De Parfum, $112; Macys.com SHOP