When you think of famous French perfumes, you probably see bottles of Miss Dior and Chanel No. 5 floating in a rose field in Grasse (or is that just us?). As much as we love those iconic fragrances, there’s one name on the cobblestoned block you should turn your attention to for 2019: Cacharel.
Cacharel isn’t new to the women of Paris. In fact, the brand has been established since the late ’60s and creates some of the best-selling scents in Europe — it just went in to a bit of a hibernation here in the U.S. Now, it’s back with a new compelling scent and an even newer face. To reintroduce the American market to the brand (owned by the beauty powerhouse L’Oréal), Cacharel sought out young musical talent Izzy Bizu, a woman of British and Ethiopian heritage, as the ambassador for the spicy perfume Yes I Am.
You may not know Bizu by name (yet), but you’ll probably recognize her unique voice. Her song “White Tiger” has over 60 million streams on Spotify. Coldplay’s Chris Martin and singer Sam Smith are fans and former tour mates. But more importantly, she’s an untapped source of cool. She has the kind of warm, relaxed presence of an old friend with a breezy attitude we can only liken to other cool girls, like Zoë Kravitz and Adwoa Aboah. This is exactly why Cacharel tapped the 24-year-old to lead the campaign.
“They’re taking a new turn for a more youthful approach, and now I’m the ambassador of the perfume that’s this weird, wonderful mix of smells,” Bizu tells Refinery29. Speaking of which, if she’d have to liken the notes, which include cardamom and raspberry, to anything, it’d be her own musical personality. “My music is a bit tougher, but there’s always going to be that vulnerable side, because it’s apart of who I am,” Bizu explains. “That’s sort of like the raspberry, but then there’s this cardamon that’s a bit more of a kick, which I have inside of me, too.”
If you ever met Bizu, you’d agree: She’s soulful and sweet, but reveals a spicy aftertaste when prompted. Just ask her about her beauty regrets, like threading her eyebrows as a teenager (“I looked hilarious at 16,” she recalls), or the days when she’d sit through a grueling 20-minute combing session as a child. Her bold personality is also reflected in the natural curls she proudly wears (“I just took a weave out, and I’m never doing it again,” she laughs).
Bizu’s new position is also significant because she’s a woman of color representing a brand that, for so long, has been fronted by white models (previous advertisements featured Gisele Bündchen and Kate Moss). “It’s really beautiful because I really love French culture, but I’m not French at all. I’m from London. I’m Ethiopian,” she says.
For Bizu, the fragrance — which looks like a tube of red lipstick, a product a lot of women use as their figurative “war paint” — is about how good it feels to be a woman. And everything about this scent, from the concept to the packaging, embraces the power of femininity.
Cacharel Yes I Am Eau de Parfum, $58, available at Macy’s.
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