I recently had the pleasure of discussing flowers and perfume with internationally acclaimed florist, Saskia Havekes, at her flagship Grandiflora store in Sydney. A Grandiflora project can range from a bouquet of flowers for visiting British royalty to composing floral arrangements for the pages of Vogue or Harpers Bazaar. Last year Saskia and her team decorated Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall stage with flowers for a special dinner party hosted by Italian jeweler Bulgari. Regardless of the project size, flowers are at the heart of every Grandiflora creation. Saskia talks passionately about her medium in the same way people talk about family members and close friends. She describes the personalities of her flowers in great detail, the way they open, their silhouettes and textures. In 2013, Saskia launched her debut perfumes Sandrine and Michel, two different interpretations of the Magnolia grandiflora flower. During our first meeting in 2014 we talked about her new adventure into perfumery and the challenges she faced, not only as a newcomer to the industry but also because one of the perfumers she was working with, Sandrine Videault, sadly passed away. Saskia named their creation Sandrine, in honour of the perfumer. Since that meeting, Saskia has been busy at … Read More »
The list of classics is much shorter for men’s fragrances than it is for women’s. It’s more a numbers game instead of being a question of creativity. Every year new fragrance launches for women significantly outnumber those for men. Statistics aside, every decade there are a select few fragrances that define a generation of men. One of these definitive moments happened in 1965 when Guerlain launched Habit Rouge. In her book about Guerlain, author Colette Fellous writes: “It was an immediate success and there was a time when Habit Rouge was so popular in Paris, that it was virtually impossible to tell father from son.”
These magical moments in perfumery require a collision of factors to be produced and they are never predictable. If they could be predicted there would be far more of them. I wasn’t around in the 1960s to give a personal account of Habit Rouge but I remember 10 years ago when I smelled newly launched Terre d’Hermes. It was unlike anything I had smelled before but it made complete sense to me, as though it had always been part of my life. It was pure magic. I had a similar experience when I discovered Habit Rouge long after … Read More »
Bringing bygone brands back to life is not a new concept in fashion and beauty. Many leading designer names belong to individuals who departed the world long ago. In perfumery, Frapin (1270), Lubin (1798), Grossmith (1835) and Oriza L. Legrand (1720) are a few recent examples of brands that have been resuscitated under new management.
Last year I met Nicolas Chabot, the entrepreneur responsible for the revival of Le Galion, a perfume house that was founded in Paris at the height of the city’s Art Deco period. Le Galion was hugely successful for many decades but the house inconspicuously dissolved into the fabric of history when Le Galion’s owner, Paul Vacher, passed away in the late 1970s. Vacher was one of the 20th century’s most talented perfumers and despite his Le Galion perfumes barely surviving into the 21st century; his name lived on through his commissions for some of France’s most famous couturiers. Arpege (1927) by Lanvin and Miss Dior (1947) by Christian Dior are his most celebrated commercial successes.
To awaken what Nicolas described as being a sleeping beauty, he selected nine fragrances from Le Galion’s archives to be relaunched using formulas he acquired in the sale of the brand and firsthand … Read More »
One of the great storytellers in contemporary perfumery is Arquiste. I’m conscious of the gravitas a description like this carries, particularly now that a lot of perfume brands are marketing their greatness without any tangible measures. Describing themselves as the most luxurious, the most exclusive, the most artistic and using only the finest raw materials, these self-proclamations often go unquestioned. But I feel completely at ease with my description of Arquiste being one of the great storytellers in contemporary perfumery having talked about the creative process with Arquiste’s founder Carlos Huber on a number of occasions, and I have published several interviews with one of the two perfumers Carlos monogamously works with, Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Givaudan New York’s Vice President of Perfumery. There is clearly a lot of passion and skill behind the Arquiste brand.
Carlos draws from his experience as an architect and historic preservationist to meticulously research the stories that inspire his fragrances. Each one is like an amorous rendezvous with a point in time. Boutonniere No.7 places its wearer in the foyer of the Paris Opera in 1899. The Architects Club evokes dark wood and leather, a hotel fumoir at the height of London’s Art Deco period. It is an … Read More »
Tacit is Aesop’s new fragrance for 2015. It follows the brand’s recently adopted method of working with leading perfumers on new olfactory product design. In 2014 Aesop collaborated with Mane perfumer Barnabe Fillon to create Marrakech Intense, and perfumer Celine Barel, one of IFF’s rising stars, created the formula for Tacit. Barel has been acquainted with Aesop for a decade and Tacit’s concept was first discussed almost three years ago, a testimony to Aesop’s careful approach to all new product launches. At the heart of every Aesop product is a love of nature, travel, the arts and the tacit knowledge those experiences yield. Australian generative artist Jonathan McCabe also collaborated on the project providing a visual element for the new fragrance. His artwork for Tacit consists of molten digital patterns that feel to me as though they are abstract forms born from the mind of Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempika. These forms are displayed inside Tacit’s box and McCabe’s work with Aesop is being exhibited at Sydney Contemporary on 10-13 September.
The formula of this new eau de parfum came from two key inspirations, the freshness of Eau de Cologne and the Mediterranean Coast, its culture, topography and perfumed vegetation. … Read More »