Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sat down with the Observer recently to talk about his new fragrance line, Drakkar Essence, what scent means to him, and why style and scent go hand in hand. Answers have been edited for brevity.
Q: When did you first start paying attention to fragrance and scent? Any missteps of youth along the way?
A: My parents were into fragrance. I could smell my mom before she was there to pick me up. It’s like this aroma that you know. It’s like a sense that you feel safe. As a young kid, you’d put your head on their neck, and you’d think, “Man, that smells like my mom.” I’ve always been around and accustomed to that sense of smell and that’s been a part of my life for a long time.
I always admired my father and wanted to do everything he did. On Sunday mornings before church, my brother and I would brush our teeth and watch him shave. One day, home alone, I tried to shave. I gouged my face with the razor. Afterward I put on aftershave. With the cut. (Newton screams.) I said, ‘No, no, no mas.’
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Q: Why Drakkar?
A: I met with the people of Drakkar in Atlanta and had various talks, and I brought a couple of samples of things that I like. I had them smell them just for them to get a sense of the type of scents that I wear, scents that I like. It was kind of like a match made in heaven, because I didn’t know (L’Oreal, which owns Drakkar Essence) was affiliated with most of the fragrances that I already had. They were like, ‘Polo Black, that’s under our wing.’ ”
I didn’t know the prestigious background (Drakkar) had with athletes. When I started reading up on different athletes (who had been the face of other Drakkar scents, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon), it was like, “Why not?”
Q: You’ve been called a fashion trendsetter, with your own MADE line of clothing at Belk. How is fragrance a part of personal style?
A: It’s not the flamboyancy about style that makes it pop. It’s more about the finer details that makes a person stick out with style. It could be a lapel pin, it could be a tie, it could be a colorful shirt, it could be how you wear your socks. It could be a hat or whatnot, as well as the way you smell. My mom always told me that a first impression is a last impression. It stuck with me, and I want to make the most of each and every opportunity that I have.
Q: How do you wear fragrance? Do you wear it daily?
A: Ever since I was affiliated with the Drakkar line, I haven’t worn anything else. I’m going on six months strong. I play basketball and it’s Drakkar, Drakkar. Going to the movies, Drakkar. Going to a lounge or dinner, Drakkar. Going to church, Drakkar. Before, I was a fragrance junkie and I would just go to the mall and ask, ‘What’s the newest one you have?’ and take that every time.
Q: Have you given any to teammates? Do you get ribbing from other players about having a cologne?
A: Yes, a couple of (teammates) have asked for it. I gave it to them. It’s something that people just don’t realize as far as it makes you cool, it makes you stick out. I always get made fun of, but in a good way. You’ve got to have a tough skin to be in the locker room. I’d rather have them say, “You smell great” than “Ugh.”