* over three days, I am publishing posts about the recently launched perfumes by renowned Australian florist and author, Saskia Havekes. Her brand, Grandiflora, is based in Sydney and a couple of weeks ago, I spent time with her, listening to the story of how she created two perfumes, named after the perfumers who created them. Sandrine and Michel were created with great joy and also great sadness; Sandrine’s creator, perfumer Sandrine Videault, passed away in 2013. Yesterday I began publishing my own thoughts on these two new fragrances. My third blog post, which will be published tomorrow, is an interview with a very candid Saskia, who talked with me about her Scent Adventure into the world of perfumery.
Saskia Havekes now adds fragrance creator to her list of accomplishments. The florist and author had an idea to create a fragrance, which paid homage to her favourite flower and namesake of her business, (magnolia) Grandiflora. New to the world of perfumery, she talked about her idea with one of her clients, perfume expert Michael Edwards, who introduced Saskia to Sandrine Videault, a perfumer that studied under master perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska. Sandrine recalled her teacher saying, “a beautiful perfume is one which gives us a shock: a sensory one followed by a psychological one.” Sandrine would spend her next years, working with Saskia to create a magnolia perfume that abided by her teacher’s ethos. Speaking with Saskia at her Grandiflora address in Sydney’s Potts Point, I saw firsthand, the level of connection developed from spending every day surrounded by flowers. Saskia talked about the personalities of her different flowers and I could see that it was this ability to read these personalities, which helped her transpose the souls of her magnolia blooms, from the physical into an olfactory form. From her home in Noumea, Sandrine spent countless hours with Saskia, exchanging thoughts over email, on Skype and in person, in order to rework the formula through its numerous modifications. When Sandrine visited Australia, Saskia took the perfumer to see her favourite magnolia trees around Sydney and she saturated the perfumer with raw material, surrounding her with buckets of fresh cut magnolia flowers. In addition to the flower’s natural sweetness, the pair talked about the freshness of the flower and its grapefruit top note. They also explored its waxiness and the leather-like texture the petals developed once the flower matured. Saskia’s memory of the flower was connected to her work where she would experience the scent the green stalks gave off when she cut them. For Saskia, it was important for Sandrine to include in her composition this odour of foliage and stems. Unknown to them at the time, this was to be Sandrine’s last perfume and the perfumer sadly passed away last year. Saskia told me, “I think about her all the time, because she is in that bottle for me.” With scent being so closely connected to memory, this is undoubtedly a very personal fragrance for Saskia. When it came time to title the perfume, she honoured her friend and perfumer, giving their collaboration the name, Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine.
Sandrine is a floral fragrance drenched in the zest of pamplemousse and futuristic tropical fruit. These energetic notes, which include a touch of pepper, animate the perfume’s floral heart, giving it a sophisticated and modern swagger. Musk is used to soften the perfume’s bitter edges throughout and the use of aldehydes references the flower’s waxy petals. Crisp green notes bring out of the perfume, the youth of the flower as well as its foliage and stem. The ozonic notes that surround the body of the fragrance bring light and saltiness, reminiscent of midday walks along Sydney’s coastal areas, where the likelihood of finding shade underneath a magnolia tree is highly probable. Sandrine has a laidback feel of Sydney in the height of summer. With its linear trajectory, once the initial burst of citrus explodes, the perfume begins its gradual decline. This effect perfectly captures the actual flower’s transient existence, and the perfume fades to faint marine notes and musk.
I was lucky enough to catch the end of summer, here in Sydney, as this bottle came into my possession. I made a point of wearing it one weekend, walking around Sydney’s botanical gardens and Government House, where Saskia took Sandrine to visit one of the city’s magnolia trees. Behind the house I got glimpses of the harbour, which in late summer, is so calming. Sandrine is the perfect olfactory companion for summer weekend adventures. It’s radiant, refreshing and the magnolia notes bring a novel twist to the idea of grapefruit, which in recent years has featured in many masculine top notes, thanks largely to Terre d’Hermes. Like a bouquet of Saskia’s carefully curated flowers, I like to think Sandrine brings a touch of nature to urban living.
Perfumer: Sandrine Videault
Bottle Designer: Moffitt.Moffitt
Release Date: 2013
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Floral