Ghost Flower with Zach Gold
From the very beginning, Altra was conceived to look beyond the fragrance sphere. Our vision has always placed the brand at the heart of collaboration, using scent as a vessel for connecting with the creativity of others. Everything from art to music and architecture deeply inspire our scent-making process, while a symbiotic dialogue unfolds with the creatives whom we have the privilege of collaborating with. In this way, Altra is the expression of a deeper purpose – one that holds deep reverence for nature, the creative journey and our interconnectedness.
We were introduced to Zach Gold’s work almost a decade ago, and his visually captivating photographs and films instantly caught our eye. It was, however, his photographs of decaying roses basking in their imperfections that resonated with our own appreciation for nature, honouring the allure of the naturally imperfect in a world of artificial perfectionism. Ethereal and luminous, his work captures a surrealist energy, threading traditional photography with digital elements to create imagery that appear at first glance to be rich, still-life paintings, yet on closer inspection reveal themselves to be so much more.
A visionary photographer and friend whom we are honoured to have collaborated with, the images that have emerged reflect our trust in Zach’s creative process and our deep energetic exchange. More that just photographs, his imagery transports us to a magical dream state that continuously shapes our evolving experience with each singular scent.
Read the interview
Ghost Flower is the second of our five scents that was captured by Zach’s lens – coincidentally, it is also his favourite. In celebration of its campaign release, he shared his Altra journey with us.
Tell us a little about your childhood and upbringing.
I grew up in rural New England, and as a child of hippies, we lived a very pure and free-spirited lifestyle – curiously, it was much like Beckielou’s own childhood in many ways. We had a huge garden with animals, and lived deep in the forest. Growing up, I would spend most of my time daydreaming in nature, reading, and creating adventures in the wood.
What drew you to Altra as a brand to collaborate with?
Beckielou and I met in Los Angeles several years back through a mutual friend. One day this past summer, we were out having lunch in Venice – by then, Covid had subsided a little. She had her fragrance samples with her, and the moment I smelled them, I was completely transported to another world. It was pure magic. Being an amateur perfumer myself for several years now, I am very attracted by the journey of going deep into one of the other senses besides that of seeing. Altra immediately caught my attention, for it rises above the ocean of homogeneity with its pure and genuine energy. When Beckielou asked me about working together on the brand’s campaign, it was an immediate yes for me – not only was it going to be a fun collaboration with a friend, but it was also because the fragrances themselves had genuinely moved me.
What inspired your creative process behind Ghost Flower’s campaign?
It ultimately all came back to the scent itself. Before shooting, Beckielou and I spoke a lot about where she was coming from when she created Ghost Flower, and how she felt about this particular scent. I then went through a process of research that mostly involved smelling Ghost Flower on different surfaces, such as skin and paper, all while also looking at reference pictures. We would discuss the mood board, and Beckielou would share her thoughts and add her own images too. Together, we slowly crafted the board until we felt it fully visualized the essence of the scent. As part of the process, I also wrote snippets of prose after having smelled each fragrance – including Ghost Flower – that also coloured my shoot for each scent.
The English word 'perfume' derives from the Latin 'per fume', which means 'through smoke'. Ghost Flower holds a smoky tone at its heart. What emotions does the smokiness of this scent evoke within you?
Ghost Flower in particular inspired some internal storytelling within me, and in some magical way gave me the permission to be a different version of myself. This scent made me want to be a better person, while unlocking a fantasy world very different from everyday life.
How do you imagine Ghost Flower would taste?
It would taste like overripe fruit that has been lying under the hot sun, next to a lazy jungle river whose banks have been saturated with centuries worth of the run-off of an unknown spice field. Sweet and savoury all at once, edged with a few drops of pheromone from a girl that you have just fallen in love with.
Perfumery sits close to your heart. How do you relate to scent, and how does your relationship with fragrance blend into your photographic and film-related work?
In my studio, my work desk sits just an arm’s length away from my perfume table. I'm deeply affected by scent, and I spend so much time engrossed in visual work that sometimes, it goes underused. When fragrance hits you, however, it's overwhelming – like when you walk past night blooming jasmine and no one else is on the street. It makes you feel lucky to be alive in a universe where that exists. In a way, it relates to my other work, and in other ways, it's completely something else. The process of layering relates the most – how colours sit on top of and next to each other; the alchemy of playing with a picture until it is right. Adding things, and then taking them away.
What is the scent memory that is most powerful to you and remains most strongly in your heart and mind?
To me, the strongest scent memory remains of the fun that is had when collaborating with friends. It's what I love most, I think. Making something from nothing with a dedicated group of people. There is an aliveness there that is hard to beat.
What will you remember the most from your collaboration with Altra?
The joy of our conversations; of how Altra rises above the ordinary, and the fun, pure and transcendental energy that it captures.
Words: Rossella Frigerio
Photography: Zach Gold
Model: Feturi Talga
Stylist: Lisa Bae
Makeup: Lilly Keys