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HomeFashionWilly Chavarria’s Scented Runway Was Designed to Stir Emotion

Willy Chavarria’s Scented Runway Was Designed to Stir Emotion

“I mean, fragrance and the olfactory senses are so important to the vibe that we wanted to have the perfect match,” Willy Chavarria tells me inside the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse moments before his Fall 2024 collection walked a scented runway. He’s hugging a baby-sized bottle of Parfums de Marly Haltane eau de parfum, joking that he drinks it by the gallon. “It’s very insider right now,” he says of the brand that is thankfully not yet scenting every elevator and hotel lobby in New York City. Instead, its “floating vetiver” notes leave a lasting impression on editors and show attendees that feels distinctly, delightfully Willy. 

Since delivering last season’s most asked-about beauty of NYFW, the designer leveled up by adding a new sense into the mix—a fragrance to pair with his FW collection, which is filled with his signature tailoring, boxed shoulders, swinging pant silhouettes, and plenty of cowboy hats. “It’s like in music,” he explains. “There are tones of music that make you feel emotion that you’re not even aware are in the track—it’s the same kind of thing.” He builds a world, not just a trend, after all.

And while brands may be knocking on his door for collabs (a testament to the power of great runway beauty), Chavarria scouted Haltane completely on his own. After reaching out to the French fragrance house directly, “he said he wanted every model and everybody that experiences the show to walk away with this beautiful scent,” Elizabeth Villegas, Parfums de Marly’s chief commercial officer tells me from a picnic table setup just past the film crews and first look photographers. It won’t be pumped through the vents or atomized by some AI technology, but instead, distributed the lo-fi way, she says: Spritzed by hand on the models, on the seats (each holding a single red rose), and in the air. “It sways between masculinity and femininity,” says Chavarria of the “lusciousness” and dimensional notes of saffron and leather that “bring out the richness in all of us here.”

Photographed by Hunter Abrams // @hunterabrams

Photographed by Hunter Abrams // @hunterabrams

Photographed by Hunter Abrams // @hunterabrams

More artists than ever buzzing around backstage, though there are familiar faces within the family. Makeup artist Marco Castro mentions that his vision for the makeup is “taking different references from our culture, from Pachuca culture, from Chola culture, and modernizing them for the future.” He and Chavarria discussed mixing elements of different decades “to create something that is new and fresh.” The brows are the standouts today, drawn thin with MAC Shape +Shade Brow Tint and highlighted at the browbone with frosted white shadow. Then, he wiggles MacStack Mascara on thick. “The lashes are nice and clumpy,” Castro says proudly. They’re real, too. The skin, save for a few Element Eight products being applied to both Chavarria and models in their chairs, is left bare. “It somehow feels so much better when someone else puts it on your face,” says Chavarria of being “hooked on the serum” as the team pats it on and compliments his skin, which he’s been taking care of for years.

Just behind him, hairstylist Joey George is spritzing Oribe Swept Up Volume Powder Spray not far from a neon red bubble wig, the only one that will walk the runway after he worked on about a dozen options this week. “This is ‘mother of the house’ hair,” he says of styling characters for the show based on the real cast of models and an emotion-stirring short film they created a couple of weeks ago to open the show. “There are individuals that are on the goth side and the preppy side, then we have some seventies looks that are very teased out,” he says of creating airy clouds of curls and slathered wet looks. Oribe was a mentor to George, so he’s familiar with what works best. “Maximista is a really good thickening spray that we’re using it to kind of smash the hair,” he says. Mullets are made “flatter and wetter” while natural spirals are brushed out, floating with nearly the same freedom of movement as those notes of vetiver in the air.

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