Complex Made Simple

Antonio Banderas: The King of Seduction

On the sidelines of the launch of his latest fragrance, King of Seduction, the Spanish actor talks perfumery, cinema and humanitarian work.

After more than 15 years in the world of perfumery, what do you think are the reasons behind this success? How does each project inspire you?
Yes, it’s been 17 years. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? When we first began, it was an experiment, which today has become one of the longest celebrity perfume collaborations in history. I think our success has a lot to do with the way the projects have been developed by Puig. It’s also about teamwork – even though the teams have changed over the years, each one has managed to transmit the legacy to the next one, to keep growing the project. But the most important thing is that we’ve managed to capture the imagination of consumers with each perfume. That’s what fascinates me most about every project: finding new stories to tell consumers and providing new experiences for them to discover.

Since debuting your fragrance line with Puig in 1997, you have been able to help lots of people through humanitarian work that you’ve linked to the products. Can you tell us about that?
I think that as people in the public eye, we have an obligation to our communities. We are continually invading public spaces through television or advertising and I think that visibility provides us with the opportunity to give something back in exchange. So, right from the beginning of my collaboration with Puig, I wanted to connect my perfumery projects to different humanitarian activities that have interested me. And that’s what we have been doing for the past 15 years.

The latest example was during the launch of The Secret, when we raised funds selling the pictures from my photo exhibition ‘Secrets on Black’, produced with Puig. We were able to collaborate with local NGOs in the different countries that the exhibition visited: in Brazil, we helped children in the favelas with the RIOinclui foundation in Rio; in Buenos Aires, we collaborated with the Hospital Español and with the Fundación Garrahan in Argentina; in New York, we worked with Broadway Cares, an organisation we have a long-term relationship with; in Chile, it was with UNICEF; and in Madrid, we worked with Lágrimas y Favores, the charity that I set up in Malaga.

It is important to me to use the opportunity of each fragrance to try and give something back.

How do you feel your personality is reflected through your fragrances? How has that changed over time (from Diavolo to your latest launches)?
Yes, it’s true that each perfume represents a different side of me and a different stage in my life. Every project begins with the relationship between Puig and myself. They know what interests me and how I’m growing and changing, so they keep evolving the fragrances to reflect that. My first perfume, Diavolo, was closer to an eau de cologne, more natural with a sportier feel.  It was the ideal fragrance for that moment. I still use Diavolo and it still appeals, but the fragrances we’re developing today have evolved in a different, more complex direction. The Secret is more about telling stories: it reflects a more solid and mature side of who I am.

Without thinking about it too much, can you tell us what your favourite scent is?
The scents I’m drawn to are the ones that connect me to memories of my past, or the things that still move me today. I’m from Malaga, so the scent of the sea will always be special: a natural, fresh smell that inspires me. The smell of orange blossoms takes me back to my childhood in Andalucía, the smell of rosemary evokes the beginning of spring and the intense smell of incense brings back the streets of my town during the Holy Week.

You’ve worked with Woody Allen, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Steven Soderbergh and, again, with Pedro Almodóvar. Based on your experience working with the best, what makes a great director?
It’s different in every case. For example, working with Pedro Almodóvar is great because of his capacity to break the rules and create new universes. Woody Allen also has an incredible capacity to explore the human soul and relationships. All great directors have the capacity to trust their actors and bring out the best in them.

You are about to celebrate 30 years as an actor. How do you think you’ve evolved as a performer and where would you like to go next? 
During those 30 years, I’ve visited many different styles and have played so many different characters. Obviously, as you grow, you bring new things to every part you play – more shades of experience. Being an actor is something you never stop learning how to do. Right now, my intention is to go behind the cameras again and create my own stories.


First published on Luxurymena, sister publication of Aficionado.