Even across a pixelated Zoom screen 1,794 miles away, Billie Eilish is exactly as you'd imagine: warm, thoughtful, intentionally uncouth. She's wearing if not a lick of makeup, very little, which is why you can see a pink flush dance across her cheeks the moment we start chatting about her latest project and first foray into beauty: a brand-new fragrance, aptly named Eilish.
Technically, yes, it is yet another celebrity beauty launch in a laundry list of celebrity beauty launches. Yet as an artist, Eilish has always experienced the world a little differently from everybody else — it's part of her brilliance, not only with music, but also how she performs, what she wears, even her hair colour — and this is particularly true with scent. That's because she's grown up with synaesthesia, a somewhat rare neurological condition that causes a confusion of the senses (think: hearing music but seeing colour) and makes sniffing perfume an utterly disparate sensorial experience.
"It's very interesting, but it also kind of doesn't mean anything," Eilish told POPSUGAR with a laugh. "It's basically where you associate things with other things. For instance, every fragrance that I smell has a colour and a temperature and a feeling. If I wanted it to, it would have a month of the year or a day of the week or a time. I associate everything with [something] else, and even though it means nothing deep down, it does inspire me."
As for the fragrance itself — a warm and cozy blend of vanilla, tonka bean, and musks (or as she described it, "caramel, melted, like burnt sugar") and bottled in the shape of her favourite parts of the body: the chest, neck, and collarbone — this escalating series of associations is what drove the creation process forward.
"When creating this scent, it was actually really helpful to have synaesthesia, because I was like, 'I need it to feel more amber-coloured. I need it to feel more cozy and smell more like the letter E, because E reminds me of the word ember and ember is in the same world of burning fire and this warm kind of heat.' It's just a world of nonsense, but it helps decision-making."
This is all to say: there is an attention to detail in everything Eilish touches, and, like the statement she made with her Oscar de la Renta dress at the 2021 Met Gala, she wanted to ensure her fragrance was created with as much intention and purpose as possible.
"It is vegan and cruelty-free, which is f*cking amazing," she said, adding that product waste was also a big consideration. "This world of beauty and fashion is surprisingly bad for the environment, and a lot of waste goes into it. I made it very clear from the beginning that I wanted it to be as environmentally conscious as possible. You can only do so much, but I wanted to do so much, so the packaging and the making of the actual scent itself — a lot of effort was put into making sure that it was conscious. I wish that more people would do that. More people are starting to do it, and that's really exciting to me, but we can always have more people trying and thinking about the world and stop using animal skins and furs. It's one step at a time, but hopefully more people follow along."
In the end, like with her every lyric, Eilish just wants this perfume to make you feel some type of way. "It sounds like a lot, but I want you to be sexually attracted to yourself when you wear this perfume. That's really how I feel. I want people to feel obsessed with themselves and infatuated with themselves and feel like they're unstoppable, and also comfortable and beautiful. I want people to feel in love with themselves."
Eilish ($68, approximately £50) will be available in November, but you can sign up here for early access.