Richard Herpin's company was selected by Gaga to create the fragrance in collaboration with herself and Nathalie Lorson and Honorine Blanc of Firmenich. While working on the fragrance, the team used the name "Dark Light" as the code name. In keeping with traditional perfumery, the scent is built around three main accords or "doses" as Gaga refers to them:
- Dose 1 Madness (also known as the dark accord): Atropa Belladonna, incense and saffron which represents Gaga’s dark, wild, dangerous side.
- Dose 2 Pleasure (Sensual accord): Honey and apricot to illustrate Lady Gaga’s velvet, ultra-sensual nature.
- Dose 3 Glory (Light Accord): Tiger Orchid and Jasmine Samac. Dose three is described as luminous and pure, which delivers an important contrast to the dark elements as this dose is fresh and dewy.
For some reason, the Jasmine Samac is the only ingredients ommitted on the package or the official website. The fragrance utilizes a "push-pull technology", rather than a pyramidal structure which is traditionally used in fragrance. Richard Herpin explained that “usually you have a pyramid: a top, middle, and heart or back note. But Fame has things happening all at the same time." Overall, the scent is very feminine. When asked by a fan if she would be developing a fragrance for men, Gaga explained, "My perfume was designed for women, but a lot of my gay friends wear it."
Richard Herpin revealed that his biggest challenge was to evolve the scent while keeping the original idea intact. He also noted that he never met Gaga in person. In an interview with Allure, he revealed that "one of the other notes she wanted was gummy worms. "Being French, I had to do my research about her American references," says Herpin. "I had to buy some gummy worms to figure out what they were. They smelled a bit like saffron and flowers to me."
- "This one in particular is very seductive. This is a very sexual fragrance. This is for the woman that wants to get laid, to be totally honest. That is what fame is, isn’t it? To get the world to fall in love with you. You want everyone to want to f--k you. Put it in a bottle, and I’m selling it.” — Lady Gaga
Black Fluid is the term used by the Haus Laboratories when they refer to the black fragrance liquid. The color has been compared, by Lady Gaga, to the soul of fame, which, like the perfume, is black. Inside of the bottle, the liquid is black and sprays clear as it become invisible once airborne. When working on the fragrance, people at Coty were worried that customers would think that the fragrance would stain and that the campaign should make it clear that it was safe to use. However, Gaga explained: "The fragrance is called Fame. It must be black. It must be enticing. You must want to lick and touch and feel it, but the look of it must terrify you." The black-to-clear technology had no impact on the notes chosen or the creative process. “This was not an issue, it did not limit us at all,” Honorine Blanc explained. “In fact, it made things easier, because sometimes you have the difficulty of colouration. With the black technology, this was not a problem, so we could use whatever ingredients we wanted to.”
- "Fame is an illusion. If you want it, anyone can have it.” — Lady Gaga
The bottle of the perfume, co-designed with Nick Knight, is an oval capsule with a metallic gold claw-shaped cover gripping the bottle. When removed, the cover also functions as a stand for the perfume. The claw inspiration could be from the Little Monsters' sign, the paw. The egg shape of the bottle was inspired by Lady Gaga's performance at the Grammy Awardsin2011.
- "This is not me in the bottle — it’s an expression of me and my relationship to fame as a performer. The darkness stays inside the bottle, and out comes only the beautiful parts of Fame.” — Lady Gaga