austin butler ysl
Gray Sorrenti

HOW DO YOU WEAR FRAGRANCE? We’d venture to guess it’s less about overt seduction (a la Anchorman’s Sex Panther) and more about how it makes you feel. It’s well established that smelling good makes you feel better—and can make you more confident. That’s the idea, at least, behind YSL’s first new men’s fragrance in five years: MYSLF.

The new masculine scent, which debuts August 8, was developed as the ultimate tool of self expression. A floral, woody concoction with surprising twists and turns, MYSLF invites the wearer to be unapologetically, well…themselves. Perfumers Daniela Andrier, Christophe Raynaud, and Antoine Maisondieu combined olfactory forces to create the ultra-modern, yet somehow familiar combination of bergamot, lavender, clary sage, patchouli, and Ambrofix (a synthetic amber accord). But the real hero here is the potent heart note of orange blossom, a sweet, citrusy, floral note not typically found in men’s fragrance that adds a modern, sexy, and unexpected element.

One issue when debuting a brand new fragrance, of course, is who best embodies the ethos of said fragrance. For MYSLF, that decision was easy: Academy Award-nominated actor Austin Butler, who is known as much for his impeccable off-screen style as he is for his equally impeccable onscreen work. As an artist, Butler is well versed in the power of creative expression, so when YSL called, he jumped at the chance to embody MYSLF. “I’ve been such a fan of the YSL aesthetic because Yves Saint Laurent himself was such a visionary and was constantly breaking rules,” he says. “He was such a rebel. I’m really inspired by him and how that has become his legacy.”

Esquire sat down with the Butler to find out just what drew him to the scent and, most importantly, how it makes him feel.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

How important is self expression to you?

As a kid, I was very shy. I repressed a lot of my own emotions and acting became this way in which I could express bits of myself that I wouldn’t otherwise. We each have these unique gifts and bits of ourselves that will never exist for the rest of eternity. If you’re trying to be someone else, then the world is going to be a little dimmer because it didn’t have those bits of you. And so I think for all of us, getting to that pure form of expression is one of the most beautiful things.

How does your style factor into your self expression?

It is all about the mood that you want to elicit and the feelings that you want to have. Clothing changes the way you feel so much. It might even just be that if it’s very comfortable; I love fabric so much—silk shirts and lace shirts and trousers that just feel good when you wear them.

The first time you smelled MYSLF, how did it make you feel?

The first thing, honestly, I was trying to figure out what is the central note was that I was smelling. Once I realised it was orange blossom, it took me right back to this orange tree that I had as a kid, which was in the house that I grew up in, in the backyard. Just the smell of orange blossoms in the air when it was blooming and picking oranges with my mother. Then as it sort of settles on your skin and you smell more of the woody warmth, it smells like that warm time of night like sunset.

Gray Sorrenti

Wow. That’s really poetic.

It’s difficult [for me to describe] because I’m trying to talk about something that’s so ethereal.

Fragrance can be so tied to memory.

You think of the certain fragrance of, maybe, your first love. And then every time you smell that for the rest of your life, you are brought right back to being a teenager. That’s amazing.

Were you a big fragrance guy before this partnership?

I’ve used fragrance in my work. The first time I did that I was doing The Iceman Cometh on Broadway and I had a certain essential oil that I’d put on every night before I went out on stage. I did it through rehearsal, too, so it would lock me back into a certain emotional state. And since I was a kid, both my parents [wore fragrance]. My mother wore more floral fragrances and my dad had this sort of strong, musky, woody scent that he would always wear. I’d sneak into their room and I would spray them on me. I don’t remember what brands they were, but it was more about how they made me feel when I was wearing them. Which is kind of interesting because that’s what MYSLF is. It’s got the floral, it’s got the wood.

You’re wearing MYSLF right now. How do you feel?

Right now I feel, what’s the word for it? Warm. Smooth warmth.

Do you wear fragrance for yourself or for other people?

It’s absolutely [more for myself]. If you love smelling it, then it’s a form of self-care.

Fragrances aren’t just always about the scent, right? It’s the entire thing—the bottle, the campaign. Is there a certain aspect of MYSLF that you like the most?

It’s hard to pick just one because it’s kind of how it all fits together. It’s the amount of thought that they put into it; that really moved me a lot. It has this sort of monolithic bottle that they designed, it’s so geometric and I love that. I love the fact that it’s refillable, as well. For so long I feel like we’ve just thrown away perfume bottles and the idea that you can refill it, I really love.

This article originally appeared on Esquire US.