Scottish actor Richard Madden reflects on the pandemic and goes into detail about being the face of the new Calvin Klein fragrance

A few months ago it was revealed that the worldwide global advertising campaign for Calvin Klein Defy, its new men’s fragrance will feature the award-winning Scottish actor Richard Madden as the face of this new chapter within the brand’s fragrance portfolio.

The fragrance and campaign embraces a new journey of defiance, while exploring authentic truths and the contrasts within—and it doesn’t take a mad scientist to see that the selection of the former Game of Thrones star as the face for the fragrance was indeed a great choice.


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The campaign features him in a series of vulnerable, self-reflecting and defying moments that culminate into a courageous leap of faith, a symbolic metaphor for personal defiance and daring to take risks.

With a daring contrast of invigorating freshness and powerful woods, Calvin Klein Defy opens with an addictive blend of citrus highlighted by crisp Bergamot and fresh Lavender Absolute. The heartbeat of the fragrance and star ingredient, Vetiver Oil, is responsibly sourced from Haiti and provides a vibrant earthiness and irresistible rugged texture that compliments the fragrance’s Amber notes.

In this interview, Richard Madden reflects on the pandemic and speaks about his journey working with the brand.

You now join the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal and Kate Moss in working with Calvin Klein fragrances, what was the experience like working with the brand on Calvin Klein Defy?
It’s just a gorgeous experience working with this brand. They’re so collaborative and they stand for so many good things and to be in that family myself is something that I feel very very lucky to be a part of and especially when I’m amongst such great alumni.

During the lockdown when TV and film production were put on hold, what did you miss doing most?
Going to restaurants. I missed restaurants so much. There’s only so much you can order and bring home before you’re like ‘I just want to be in a beautiful place with food that’s not in a cardboard box’—so that’s why I really miss the most, honestly.

What about Calvin Klein Defy resonates with you?
I think it’s simply just the concept of looking at yourself and seeing what limitations you put on yourself, what expectations you have on yourself and the concept of defying that, pushing your own boundaries or daring to push yourself a little further to expect a little more from yourself. And that’s something that I have kind of always wanted to try and do—and that’s why this collaboration works so well. We came up with this concept of defying your own boundaries and that is something I myself very much relate to.

The sense of smell is closely linked with memories compared to our other senses. What are some of your earliest scent memories?
It used to rain a lot in Scotland when I was growing up, so the idea that the smell of heavy rain and wet grass is always something that I think of when I remember Scotland, just that kind of fresh rain smell.

Since you’ll be playing Ikaris in Marvel’s upcoming film Eternals, if the fragrance Defy were to be a hero, what kind of hero would it be? Perhaps someone quirky like Spiderman or someone rather uptight like Captain America.
*chuckles* I love how you call Captain America uptight, that makes me laugh. Hmm, I don’t know who would defy me honestly. He or she would definitely be their own type of superhero. I think something along the lines of someone who lives amongst us in many ways, it could be someone in town or simply someone who is strong and stands for the good things and the right things in the world, definitely someone with a strong moral compass. I’ll think of a name over the weekend.



written by.

Melissa Foong

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur, Melissa is a writer that hopes to offer a fresh female perspective on the world of men's luxury fashion. When she's not busy chasing deadlines, you can find her tucked in a blanket rereading her favourite series of fantasy novels, Harry Potter.

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