in conversation

Miley Cyrus on Her Gucci Scent and the Power of Reinventing Yourself

Miley Cyrus.

Since July 2021, Miley has worked on Gucci’s Flora Gorgeous Gardenia Eau Perfume with Alessandro Michele. The scent embodies optimism, hope, and excitement– qualities which Miley says Michele saw in her before she saw them in herself. Here, she talks to our Editor in Chief, Mel Ottenberg about the creative process behind creating the scent and the power that scent holds.


MILEY CYRUS: Hello. Hi, how are you?

INTERVIEW: Oh my god Miley, so good, how are you?

CYRUS: I actually don’t have to see you, they said I wasn’t—not that I don’t have to see you, but you don’t see me, that’s what I really mean.

INTERVIEW: I’m turning on to just send you a kiss.

CYRUS: Oh, I want to turn it on then.

INTERVIEW: I was going to turn it off.

CYRUS: I look good.

INTERVIEW: You look good, though.

CYRUS: No, I know. I just want to make sure.

INTERVIEW: Hey Miley, are you wearing Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia eau de parfum right now?

CYRUS: Only on my [censored].

INTERVIEW: Oh god, that’s fantastic. I bet you smell great. Hey, Miley, how are you doing, fantasy woman?

CYRUS: I am doing really well. I’m so excited to see some of these pictures. I wanted to pull up some of these things that I had written down because I like to be thoughtful about what I’m going to say, and this is not from Gucci but from me, because I have a very personal connection with the Flora Fantasy, what it means to me—not on some bullshit but, like, for real.

INTERVIEW: I believe it. I’m going to put some on right now.

CYRUS: And the packaging is very cute. One thing that I love about Alessandro [Michele, creative director of Gucci] is that, sometimes when you’re lost in that nucleus of your own identity and perception of yourself—even when I push myself to my farthest boundary, I’ll still only ever stay in my comfort zone, because that’s what our survival and the humanity in us sets into our pre-programmed brain. We never want to feel unsafe or feel that we’re doing something that can’t be undone, because that would be detrimental to us. The thing that I love about Alessandro is, I felt he saw a side of me that I couldn’t, at the time that I was in. And now, the Flora Fantasy resonates a lot more with me. We’ve been creative collaborators in other ways,
especially revolving around my looks and the custom designs he’s been making for my shows, but when it comes to this alliance that we formed, it’s now only being revealed as the partnership that it really is. Alessandro saw me in a way that I couldn’t at the time, because when we started talking about making this partnership a reality, it was around October of 2020 and that was a very different period for not just me, but for the world. There was so much darkness and there was so much heaviness and it was right in the middle of the pandemic and the protest and the politics of it all. We were right in the middle of presidential campaigns and it was so heavy. The Flora Fantasy was truly an escape for myself at the time and I think it will be for everyone.

Alessandro saw me in this soft, vulnerable, light, whimsical state that I couldn’t see. I remember the first time I ever started talking to Alessandro, I had on these glasses and, like, a big Gucci hat and all black and I was telling him, “You know, I always know when something is right for me and I don’t think I’m the right girl. I think you made a mistake. I don’t think that I represent the Flora Fantasy. I think I’m very heavy.” And he goes, “Well that’s not what I really see and that’s not what I feel the public sees. I feel like you are hope and optimism.” Something I did during the pandemic was Bright Minded [Miley’s live Instagram talk show] and the Flora Fantasy is a part of that, and so, when he saw me in a way I couldn’t see myself, that’s when it confirmed the idea that Alessandro Michele is a total visionary and kind of a genius. Now, almost a year full-circle later, I resonate with this fantasy so much and the spirit of the gorgeous gardenia because of its cycles of life and its, you know, unity with nature. I think, the natural awareness that flowers do have to thrive and to be seasonal, and knowing that being seasonal is okay, knowing that there’s a prime time for your beauty, for you to thrive, and there’s a time for you to be more discreet. I just think that I resonate with the Flora Fantasy in a way that I didn’t know.

INTERVIEW: I think the public does see you as someone that’s hopeful. You know you’re doing your thing, but you might have been really going dark on the inside, as we all were but, um, but that resonates. I hope that we stay in the fantasy for a minute, right?

CYRUS: Me too, I love the fantasy. Another thing that I had recently and I didn’t really realize [shows us her notebooks]—RuPaul gave me this for New Year’s, it says “Let’s Ru This.” And then I got my WOWPresents, honey. I got my WOWPresents notes, I mean I’m so in it. I have all my notes and I write things down. This is actually my book that I use to write down my morals and my values and my potential and my purpose. And this is the book that I use for my work and my commitments and my capabilities on this plane. I always keep them together because I want to make sure that anything that I do aligns with my morals and my values, so I kind of cross-check myself when it comes to my professionalism with my personal values and I don’t allow them to ever be divided. When it comes to what the Flora Fantasy meant to me, again I started talking to Alessandro in October of 2020, and I had lost my grandmother. Part of her identity to all of us, her grandkids, was floral, because honey, she WORE it. The wallpaper was floral, the couch, everything. In her dying days that was how we knew we could get her to light up with life, was flowers, and flowers can represent so many elements of life. When someone has a newborn baby, you send flowers. When it’s someone’s birthday, you send flowers, and when someone passes on you send flowers. In this way, they are a representation of cycles of life, and so, for me personally, when I use the gardenia, it’s not on a physical level, it’s, like, this overwhelming sense that my grandmother is around. Her house always smelled like flowers and I feel that if you can have an emotional attachment or spiritual attachment to everything, it makes buying something as simple as a perfume into this emotional experience. I think that’s how things should be. That’s why I’m a musician because, as much as it’s a physical sense, I feel like it penetrates on a deeper level and that’s what I think the Flora Fantasy really represents.

INTERVIEW: It’s about women, love, and hope and all that, like you said. Sometimes if I’m at the mall or at the airport and I see some scent I used to wear, I’ll just put it on. It takes me back like to the ‘90s.

CYRUS: Yeah, you flashback to a rave.

INTERVIEW: I was about to say that, there’s a certain one that I’ll put on like at Charles de Gaulle Airport and I’ll be like, “Oof, THAT night in 2001.” But on a sweet floral note, I like that about your grandmother. I don’t really have that. I’m a little jealous—well, I guess my mom’s perfume will always be that for me.

CYRUS: Exactly, and you know when you have a bad night with a certain booze and you’re like, “I can’t touch that again”—that’s why I have another book sitting here that is marked as my Holy Bible. But it’s not the Bible, it’s this book about habits and it’s really important to me, because that’s how we’ve created a society, and the system is habits. Sun is up, we work, sun is down, we play. We are free, but we’re not. That’s why I love Grace Jones, because she says, “Time, time, time, all you care about is time,” as she’s eight hours late for David Letterman. It’s everything. And there’s a consideration for other people of why we consider time and that people’s time is valuable, but really we are this kind of servant to the structure of time. So your brain and its associations are very powerful. That’s why I think that perfume can be something deeper than just a part of my morning ritual. It’s like, yes, but you have to be very careful with what you choose because your scent too will leave a mark on other people. You know, you never want someone going, “Oh the smell of gardenias reminds me of that bitch Miley. She’s crazy.”

INTERVIEW: I mean listen, I’m glad that you’re putting out a thing of hope and excitement, and again I really hope it lasts. I can’t wait for you to see these pictures. We created something really

CYRUS: I am freaking, I’ve heard from my friend Andrew Wyatt that they are ridiculous.

INTERVIEW: I showed Andrew Wyatt. He was the token friend that I showed.
CYRUS: Bye Mel!
INTERVIEW: If you want me I got you, whatever. I love you.
Hair: Cervando Maldonado at 454 North Salon and The Wall Group
Makeup: James Kaliardos using Gucci Beauty at The Wall Group
Set Design: Nicholas des Jardins at Streeters Agency
Production: Chloe Mina
Photography Assistants: Adam Kim and Joshua Wilkens
Fashion Assistants: M.E. Clark, Lucy Gaston, and Leslie Stephens
Manicure: Katie Tran