This season, Calvin Klein continues on its journey of defiance. As a follow-up to the brand’s coveted Calvin Klein Defy Eau de Toilette, Calvin Klein has introduced a Defy Eau de Parfum, a slightly richer, bolder installment to its men’s fragrance portfolio. At the heart of the Eau de Parfum is an opulent leather base, which forms the fragrance’s masculine undertones. The fragrance is then complete with lavender, amber and Mandarin citrus oil, which adds a burst of freshness that arguably cuts all expectations. The new fragrance celebrates those who are unafraid to take risks and put themselves out there. And who embodies that ethos more than this generation’s leading man, Richard Madden? Madden, who is at once both vulnerable and daring in his work, stars in the brand’s new campaign wearing the iconic and timeless Calvin Klein ensemble of jeans and a white T-shirt. As someone who applies fragrance first thing in the morning and as the last step at night, it’s clear fragrance plays “a big part” in his life–and this latest campaign is no different.

For more on Calvin Klein’s naturally sourced fragrance and Madden’s relationship with scents, read our conversation below. 

V MAGAZINE: Hi Richard. How are you doing today? 

RICHARD MADDEN: Good, how are you? 

V: Lovely, thanks for taking the time. What first attracted you to Calvin Klein and the brand? 

RM: I’ve always been a big fan of the brand. The first fragrance I ever had was CK One. I’ve always been a big admirer of the brand. So it was a dream come true when I met with them in New York. I was really inspired by the team and the idea of creating something together with them. 

V: That’s amazing. We’re also curious about your experience with fragrances and scents. What are some of your earliest memories? 

RM: I remember, which is quite perfect for me, working with Calvin Klein because CK One was the first fragrance I ever received. I remember treasuring this special little bottle and how fragrance can make you feel things. It was my first experience, and ever since then, fragrances have been a huge part of my life.

V: Yeah, totally. And what role does fragrance play in your grooming routine and in your daily life? Can you speak a little more about that?

RM: Sure. I wear fragrance in the morning and in the evening. I think it’s a really wonderful thing that can be a real mood uplift or a confidence booster. In the morning, that’s the last thing I do as part of my routine, a spray of something. But true as well for going out in the evening, another spray of something before you go out. It gives me a lot of confidence and helps me feel good. It’s a big part of my life.

V: Yeah, I feel like it’s the same effect as clothes. It can change your mood and how you enter a room. 

RM: Yeah, and how you interact with someone. When I’m filming, I often choose a fragrance that I think will suit the character I’m playing, something that can help me feel a bit more like them. I think you can wear fragrances that evoke something that helps your coworkers react to. Like if you’re acting as a powerful person, maybe I’d wear a powerful scent. 

Photo by Thomas Legrand.

V: I love that. So, the first campaign that you did with Calvin Klein was an eau de toilette, and now you guys developed an eau de parfum. How has your awareness and appreciation for the scent developed since then?

RM: I think my awareness has developed as much as the scent has itself. Initially, the scent was a little lighter and more summery, and now, as we go into the winter, it’s something a little heavier, a little warmer. So I feel like I’ve developed alongside them.

V: Yeah, you can feel that. And as you’ve spent so many hours with some of the best groomers in the industry, what are some tricks that you’ve learned that have stuck with you?

RM: With fragrance specifically, I’d have to say if I’m using a product on my face that has fragrance, I try not to use that. That’s usually not a very good thing to have. But in terms of beauty tricks, I think one consistent key that always comes from these makeup artists is to wear sunscreen. That’s something that I’ve forced myself to do every day. 

V: Sunscreen is super important, for sure. We read that over 80% of the ingredients in this fragrance are naturally derived. Is that something that you take into consideration when it comes to products that you use on yourself? 

RM: Absolutely. That’s a focus for me. I try and make sure anything I put on my skin or anything that I use at home for cleaning is as organic and as less toxic as possible.

V: And why is this so important to you?

RM: I’ve had lots of people in my life affected by different cancers, so I think it’s important to think about what we use on the skin, on our bodies, our clothes, and our homes. Although I don’t know enough about it, I try and make a conscious effort not to reach for the most chemical solution and try to find alternatives.

V: Yeah, especially as a perfume, it’s the closest thing to your skin, so it’s super important. And finally, what other projects do you have coming up that you can tease?

RM: I have a new series coming out on Amazon. It’s a global spy thriller, intrigue, mystery drama. It’s a really exciting new world that we’re creating. So it should be something really fun, and hopefully very compelling.

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