Ask Florence Welch how fragrance fits into her life, and you probably expect the critically beloved, flame-haired frontwoman for Florence and the Machine to simply detail her spritzing habits (for the record: “It’s the final thing I put on—I don’t feel dressed without it”). But her immediate enthusiasm for the subject, steeped in the insider jargon only a true connoisseur would know, makes it clear she’s no casual dabbler in scent.
“There’s a word for perfume obsessives; they’re called fragheads,” she tells me from London when I call to talk about her campaign for Gucci Bloom’s newest juice, Profumo di Fiori Eau de Parfum. A friend, anti-folk musician Adam Green, first clued Welch into the community of scent hounds a few years ago: “I got very into the culture, watching YouTube fragrance reviewers and learning all the lingo, like sillage,” she recalls. “And throughout our last tour—partying used to be the pastime, but I stopped that—everyone on the van became obsessed with going to niche perfume stores.” The band would also burn incense onstage, and for a while, Welch flirted with the idea of somehow pumping fragrance into a stadium (a whim that proved impractical).
Besides being a fraghead’s dream project, joining Gucci Bloom’s cinematic campaign also felt like something ripped right from Welch’s childhood fantasies. The shoot setting, a former Franciscan convent known as La Scarzuola in the Umbrian countryside, was nothing short of magical, and iconic women—actress Anjelica Huston, designer Susie Cave, and model Jodie Turner-Smith—rounded out her gang of co-stars. “We had to dance on the roof of this old theatre, with rose petals being thrown,” Welch says. “It felt like the realization of something I’d made up when I was a shy kid, always in books and living in a fantasy world.”
While conceptualizing the campaign, Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, imagined a mystical realm, “a hallucination of flower power,” featuring women as priestesses. The psychedelic imagery alludes to the spellbinding nature of perfume, and to the boldly expressed florals in Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori.
“With all of Alessandro’s work, there’s never anything too pretty. Nothing he makes is too sweet. There’s always an edge to it. That’s what I love about this perfume,” says Welch, observing that the floral notes—tuberose essence, jasmine sambac absolute, ylang-ylang—come contrasted with “undercurrents of earth, warmth, and heaviness.”
Although Welch describes herself as deeply sensorial, her fascination with fragrance goes beyond just what it smells like—it’s a ritual bound up in feelings, an aura, and something she finds more primal. “If I want to go into a spiritual place, I’ll layer up a lot of fragrance, because it’s like you’re projecting a part of yourself outside of your body,” she says. “It’s like the most ethereal piece of clothing you can wear.”
Gucci Bloom Profumo di Fiori is available at Sephora, Hudson’s Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Holt Renfrew.