Atelier des Ors is a French fragrance maison that combines the savoir-faire of niche perfumery with the look and feel of a French luxury brand. My discovery of the collection was in 2015 at Pitti Fragranze in Florence, Italy. Atelier des Ors’ founder Jean-Philippe Clermont had launched his collection earlier the same year. Three years in the making, the collection was the result of Jean-Philippe’s pursuit for perfection. Particular focus was given to the ingredients he used to create the fragrances as well as the fragrances’ presentation. Emblazoned with gold leaf, Atelier des Ors’ presentation at Pitti Fragranze was memorable. Last year I had another encounter with the brand at Peony Haute Parfumerie (Atelier des Ors’ Australian stockist) in Melbourne. Peony’s owner, Jill Timms, is known for her meticulous selections; you can be sure that brands go through some serious QC before they make it onto her boutique’s shelves. Jill spoke highly of the brand and I left Peony with a sample of Atelier des Ors’ Lune Féline, which became one of my favourites in the collection.
I was recently given a third opportunity to experience the collection. This time I had access to Marie Salamagne, the perfumer who Jean-Philippe commissioned to bring his ideas to life. Marie is one of a handful of young and highly innovative perfumers who I consider one to watch. Working with Firmenich, she has proven her abilities many times, creating noteworthy fragrances for Armani Privé and Maison Martin Margiela’s Replica series. Her work with Atelier des Ors is also highly impressive.
For Atelier des Ors, Marie created an evocative olfactory signature. The fragrances are signed with exotic and rare woods, eastern spices, textural leathers, golden resins and veils of musk. I asked Marie to share some of her own thoughts on the collection as I explored each of the fragrances. Marie also answered my questions about working with Jean-Philippe and the Atelier des Ors brand.
WMSSL: What is the starting point when you create a new Atelier des Ors fragrance? Is the creative process led by Jean-Philippe Clermont’s ideas or does he prefer to give you control over the way the fragrance develops?
Marie Salamagne: Passionate and imaginative, Jean Philippe Clermont shares his creative ideas with me as we start working on a new fragrance. They are nourished by his incredibly rich experience as his professional life includes various domains of excellence where savoir-faire is key. Then I feel free to translate his vision into fragrant poetry. We only keep real coups de coeur as we both like to only pursue rare and unique experiences. I cherish the precious moments of the creative adventure as I enjoy true mutual respect, sharing, listening and a kindred open-minded spirit.
WMSSL: What were your inspirations when selecting the raw materials that created this unique olfactory signature for the house?
Marie Salamagne: The collection is anchored in precious know-how and reinterprets the heritage of French Haute Parfumerie. I select materials that bring to life the spiritual and symbolic dimension of the creative storytelling. As I work to sublimate them in my creations for Atelier des Ors, my craft helps to reconnect fragrance lovers to the dreams and mysterious universe of luxury fragrances.
WMSSL: How do you describe your style as a perfumer? Is there one type or family of fragrance that you enjoy creating more than others? If so, why?
Marie Salamagne: My style as a perfumer adapts to many different contexts. The major imprint comes from the brand and its universe. I like to immerse in various worlds and join any new adventure. They all enrich my experience. I love to meet and work with new people as they feed my curiosity with their own vision. The magic of my craft lies in these exciting encounters.
WMSSL: If you had to choose a favourite fragrance in the Atelier des Ors collection, which one would you choose and why?
Marie Salamagne: Lune Féline would be my favorite as I relish its disruptive form of addiction. I am very proud of this captivating creation.
Notes (as listed in the Fragrances of the World database): Iris, bergamot, cinnamon, cypriol, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, musks, liatris (Carolina vanilla), cistus labdanum, myrrh
Marie Salamagne: Musk is so full of surprises with endless facets. In Iris Fauve, I tried to express the duality between its softness and its strength. With myrrh and cistus, Iris Fauve feels like a precious fur: textured, elegant and very sensual, like a musk you could touch.
WMSSL: For me, Iris Fauve is a tapestry of musk bathed in purple light. Within the shadows, woods and resins come in and out of focus. Further in, it has a sweet timbre, which is unusual and highly pleasant. Many of today’s iris fragrances are sheer and cooling yet Iris Fauve is warm and embracing. I also get a hint of lipstick from the dry down.
Larmes du Désert
Notes: Cypress, incense, guaïac wood, patchouli, cedarwood, precious woods, amber, benzoin, citrus accord
Marie Salamagne: Historically, resins like myrrh and incense were more precious than gold. Larmes du Désert is both vibrant and warm, spicy and ambery, with citruses and woods giving a vertical aspect from top to dry down.
WMSSL: Larmes du Désert is wonderfully textural. Cypress and woods, together with the citrus accord and the top note facets of incense open the fragrance with a fresh conifer effect, like walking through a pine forest in the morning. As the incense ages, some of the resin’s ambery effects come into play. With patchouli and guaiac wood, the fragrance becomes more angular, ambery and mysterious.
Notes: Cypress, juniperberry, cardamom, saffron, incense, cedar leaves, cypriol, vetiver, leather
Marie Salamagne: In Cuir Sacré I used saffron for its noble suede texture. Vetiver and cypriol for their woody dry and leathery facets. They are really precious woods, as well as spiritual for me with their intriguing smoky tonalities.
WMSSL: Cuir Sacré is a beautifully constructed vetiver wrapped in delicate suede. Cypriol’s smoky and dry woody facets pair harmoniously with vetiver as does the saffron with leather. Cypress and juniper add texture and dimension to the top notes and incense does the same further into the fragrance. Cardamom is one of the notes that feature in many of Atelier des Ors’ fragrances. In Cuir Sacré it is a jewel. The exotic spice is like an emerald, which bathes the entire fragrance in cool green light.
Notes: Pink pepper, raspberry, rose, brown sugar, guaïac wood, patchouli, oud, sandalwood, amber
Marie Salamagne: Rose Omeyyade explores the captivating smell of Damask Rose, infused with velvet raspberry tones and intense woods, such as the mystical agarwood and gaiac wood.
WMSSL: Atelier des Ors is not the first perfume house to pair rose with oud, nor will it be the last, but nonetheless it is nicely executed and smells expensive. The raspberry note accentuates the dark red-licorice-like facet of Damask rose oil and overall the fragrance has a sophisticated air about it.
Notes: Pink pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, styrax, green notes, precious woods, ambergris, cedarwood, Tahitian vanilla, musk, peru balsam
Marie Salamagne: Lune Féline is a sensual gem. Darker and more luxurious, it features a Tahitian Vanilla, known as white vanilla. It is rarer than the black Bourbon vanilla and has a specific floral and creamy addiction.
WMSSL: If, like me, your default response to vanilla in fragrance is that you will pass, I highly recommend Lune Féline. It changed my mind that vanilla wasn’t for me. The fragrance opens with spicy pink pepper, cardamom and cinnamon before deepening with woody notes, oriental resins and luxurious vanilla. Like adding a pinch of salt to baking, the slightly salty ambergris note in the base adds to the overall experience.
Notes: Grapefruit, bergamot, blackcurrant buds, violet, sage, iris, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, praline
Marie Salamagne: For Aube Rubis, I played with light and shadow. The sparkling radiance of grapefruit and blackcurrant contrasts with the sensuality of woods, like Patchouli Prisma and Haitian vetiver.
WMSSL: I love Marie’s description, which captures this fragrance so well. Aube Rubis is a refined patchouli-wood scent, which is counterpointed by zesty grapefruit and fruity cassis. As cassis morphs into iris, a subtle praline note helps to round out the base of patchouli and vetiver.
Notes: Grapefruit, iris, clary sage, cypriol, Haitian vetiver, patchouli, musks, immortelle, ambrette seeds
Marie Salamagne: In Musc Immortel, I enhanced the power of musk with the immortelle flower, full of light and almost liquorish. This interpretation of musk is timeless, as if time had stopped so that we can fully enjoy this disturbingly pleasant state of inebriation.
WMSSL: Musc Immortel is a limited edition fragrance for 2017. I am yet to smell it but based on Marie’s description, it sounds hypnotic. Immortelle is an ingredient that most people either love or hate. It smells somewhat like curry, fenugreek seeds and liquorice. To date, Dior’s Eau Noire, created by Francis Kurkdjian is my reference for immortelle notes in perfumery but I am keen to update my reference point.
To learn more about Atelier des Ors, visit the website here. Thanks to Marie Salamagne for offering some words to my review of the collection. I look forward, of course, to experiencing the brand’s upcoming releases!