A decade on, Jean-Claude Ellena continues his work as Perfumer of Hermes. His mandate from the luxury French brand has always been to launch a new scent when he feels ready. In the time-pressured world of fashion and beauty, it is unusual for perfumers to have this level of freedom in their work. Cuir d’Ange is the 11th Hermessence perfume. Speaking with press last year when the perfume launched, Jean-Claude Ellena spoke about it being an idea he developed over a period of 10 years. When he was recruited in 2004, he visited a room in the Hermes atelier where leather is laid out in storage. It is a place where precious hides, tanned by master tanners, are stored in a controlled environment. Here they await transformation into some of the world’s finest leathergoods. He was enamoured by the scent of the tanned leather, which to his surprise smelled of flowers. Ellena often draws parallels between his work and the work of other artists. On this occasion, he drew a link to the world of literature and the words of writer Jean Giono, who in his autobiography, described his father working in his cobbler’s workshop, “making shoes in angel leather … Read More »
Launching this weekend at Esxence, Milan’s annual niche fragrance event, Pichola is the sixth perfume from Neela Vermeire Creations. Last year I interviewed Paris-based Neela. We talked about the perfume house she founded in 2012 that is an olfactory celebration of her Indian heritage and culture. Working with French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Neela tells India’s rich and complex story by dedicating each fragrance to a particular time or place that has inspired her. For this latest perfume, the inspiration came to Neela when she attended a wedding anniversary in Udaipur nearly two years ago. I didn’t attend Esxence this year, so Neela kindly sent me a sample of Pichola and we exchanged some words so that I could delve deeper into the story behind her latest creation.
Pichola is everything I expect from Neela Vermeire Creations. Working with Bertrand, the pair has created a strong olfactory identity for Neela’s brand. When I interviewed Bertrand about his work as L’Artisan Parfumeur’s resident perfumer, he told me that he does not accept design requests from clients if they impose budget restrictions on the formula. Although Bertrand uses synthetic ingredients in all of his work, an aesthetic necessity of modern perfumery, I smell a lot of … Read More »
Last week I published an interview with B. Kristian Malbrum, the Norwegian founder of a new line of niche perfumes called Malbrum Parfums. Of the three extrait de parfums I discussed with Kristian, Tigre du Bengale was my favourite and I was grateful to add a bottle of it to my personal perfume collection. Aside from simply liking the way it smells, I was intrigued by the unconventional process Kristian followed to create these fragrances with French perfumer Delphine Thierry. Kristian told me that his starting point for a new perfume was the raw materials. He began without a concept, design brief or story. The perfume’s title and story came after the fragrance took form. For Tigre du Bengale, he wanted to explore the boundaries between spices and leather in a fragrance. Within that journey, the idea of a Bengal tiger’s skin and what that would smell like began to interest him. The spices he had selected for his composition related to the Bengal tiger’s homeland given they were all spices used to flavour Bengali cuisine. As the formula evolved, Kristian sensed the erogenous aspect of the fragrance. When I spoke with him he laughed and said, “The first thing that came to my mind … Read More »
This week at Esxence in Milan, newcomer Malbrum Parfums will unveil three new fragrances titled Volume 1. Founded in Norway by entrepreneur and scent artist, B. Kristian Malbrum, the collection is an interesting mix of Kristian’s unique Nordic style and French perfumer Delphine Thierry’s classically trained nose for detail and construction. I first met Kristian through Facebook. Since then, we have exchanged the occasional message over the months, discussing raw materials. At the start of the year he messaged me to say his first collection was complete and he asked if I would like to be among the first people to sample his finished work. Knowing he created his perfumes in collaboration with Delphine Thierry, I was naturally curious. I’m a big fan of the fragrances she created for Lubin and Rive Sud Interior. After smelling the Malbrum perfumes and Skyping with Kristian this weekend, we both agreed that his fragrances have Delphine’s signature as a perfumer. I also think Kristian’s rogue influence creates interesting dynamics in all three perfumes, which is one of the reasons why I like his collection so much.
Kristian’s interest in perfume began at the age of 8, when he convinced his grandmother to take him to a … Read More »
Almost a year and a half has past since I’ve written anything about Puredistance, one of Netherland’s premier niche perfume houses. This is because the brand has been quietly working on a new fragrance. In previous posts I interviewed Puredistance founder, Jan Ewoud Vos, and I explored his collection of Pure Perfume Extraits. My favourite is Puredistance M, a spicy leather-chypre created in collaboration with perfume guru Roja Dove. In late 2013 I was part of a group of bloggers invited to write about the launch of Puredistance BLACK. Earlier this month I received another package of precious cargo from Puredistance HQ containing the result of their past years work – Puredistance WHITE. The new fragrance will be previewed this week at Esxence in Milan ahead of the perfume’s official launch on April 20.
Great design often takes time and in this fast-paced world we live in, time is a luxury that many brands are willing to sacrifice. Luxury is at the core of the Puredistance ethos. Together with perfumer Antoine Lie, they worked for a year to refine and perfect the formula for WHITE. Lie is also the engineer behind Puredistance BLACK, so for me it is interesting to smell the two together … Read More »
Last year when Creed launched its new Acqua Originale collection of fragrances in Australia, I had the opportunity to speak with Erwin Creed who was in Sydney for the collection’s launch. We spoke about his role in the family business, a business that spans seven generations, going back to the mid 18th century. With perfume being the family’s primary activity, Erwin’s father, Olivier Creed currently holds the title of Creed’s Master Perfumer. Eventually this title will pass to Erwin, who currently oversees global distribution of his family’s perfumes. Although he has already authored perfumes for Creed, Erwin’s perfumer training is ongoing. He says he needs to learn how to think like his father, to understand how he creates perfumes. There is no fixed timeline for Erwin to succeed his father and his current training involves interning with a variety of perfume companies to learn the various aspects of his father’s role.
Asked to describe Creed in three words, he smiles and says decisively, “family, respect and quality.” Erwin goes on to say that quality of the raw materials Creed uses is very important. Part of his training is learning about different distillation processes and quality control so he can safe guard the … Read More »
Vetiver has been one of my favourite perfume notes for many years. Personal highlights from my collection include Chanel’s smoky Sycomore, The Different Company’s salty Sel de Vetiver, Christian Dior’s coffee-infused Vetiver, Frederic Malle’s Parisian Vetiver Extraordinaire and Guerlain’s archetypal Vetiver. I could go on listing more. When I heard Creed was launching a new vetiver fragrance to join its existing Original Vetiver, my interest was perked. Vetiver Geranium is part of Creed’s recently launched Acqua Originale collection, a series of five fragrances that have the freshness and radiance of eau de cologne with the tenacity of a more concentrated eau de parfum. Each fragrance is a short and focused essay, exploring raw materials gathered from around the world by Master Perfumer, Olivier Creed. The island of Java, one of the perfumer’s favourite destinations in Indonesia, inspired Vetiver Geranium. I was introduced to the Acqua Originale fragrances by Erwin Creed who was in Sydney for the collection’s Australian launch in December. As the son of Olivier Creed, Erwin is pegged to take over the family business when his father retires, placing him seventh in a family line of perfumers since Creed was established in 1760. Although his training to become a Master Perfumer continues, … Read More »
Master Perfumer Olivier Creed’s latest collection is described as a “living fragrance journal of countless globetrotting journeys with the fine art of perfumery as the narrative.” The Acqua Originale fragrances cover a broad geography, going below the mineral rich soil of Tuscany where iris bulbs are rooted, to colourful and fragrant flowerbeds in Southern India. The new collection captures the soul of the perfume’s raw materials in a modern and expressive way, quite different from Creed’s more classically structured main collection. Aberdeen Lavander sits apart from the other Acqua Originale fragrances because it involves a sense of time travel. The fragrance is tributed to one of Creed’s esteemed 19th century patrons, the British monarch Queen Victoria. The Scottish Highlands were a favourite retreat of the Queen, and with this location in mind, Olivier Creed created a fragrance very much of Queen Victoria’s era. Aberdeen Lavander is a fougere fragrance featuring the calming scent of lavender with patchouli, a fashionable smell in Victorian England. The fougere name came from an innovative cocktail of refreshing eau de cologne, geranium, woods and coumarin, which formed the basis of Paul Parquet’s Fougere Royale in 1882. Since Parquet’s time, the fougere accord has been the … Read More »
Santal Royal is one of Guerlain’s latest offerings and as the name suggests, it is an olfactory homage to sandalwood. Over millennia, sandalwood has been the substance of perfume legends. In Eastern cultures it is honoured with sacred reverence. Early Sankrit texts give accounts of fragrant sandalwood paste adorning the bodies of gods, kings and lovers. For Guerlain, Exoticism and mythic stories of love have been constant influences. After a modern system of trade was established with the East, 19th century perfumer Aimé Guerlain used Indian sandalwood oil in his abstract creation, Jicky. At the birth of Art Deco, Jacques Guerlain tributed Shalimar to the tragic love story of Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan. Later that century, Jean-Paul Guerlain authored Samsara, a name inspired by the Eastern philosophy of life and death. Originally Samsara was created for Guerlain’s muse, Decia de Powell, who requested a bespoke perfume using sandalwood and jasmine. The original formula contained an unprecedented 30% of sandalwood oil. Researching for his book, Perfume Legends, author Michael Edwards interviewed Sylvaine Delacourte who was Jean-Paul Guerlain’s assistant at the time. She recalled, “Sandalwood is one of Guerlain’s favourite materials. For as long as I have worked for him, he has told me … Read More »
Bottega Veneta is one of the more discreet Italian brands, which hangs on the periphery of fashion without too much noise. Founded in 1966, the Venetian atelier developed a reputation with connoisseurs for making meticulously crafted leathergoods. Bottega Veneta’s global expansion didn’t take place until 2001 when the Gucci Group purchased the company and Tomas Maier was appointed Creative Director. Maier helped expand Bottega Veneta from being a niche luxury brand that few people knew to an international luxury brand with boutiques all over the world. With the product offer expanding to include shoes and ready-to-wear, accessories and jewellery, the launch of perfumes was inevitable. After dipping a toe in the market with a small collaboration with L’Artisan Parfumeur making home fragrances, Bottega Veneta partnered with Coty and in 2011 the brand launched its first signature fragrance for women, Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum. Robertet perfumer Michael Almairac worked on this project and he has been the brand’s preferred perfumer to date. Last year he returned to Bottega Veneta and composed Essence Aromatique. Even though he is not the only perfumer Bottega Veneta has worked with over the past four years, the brand’s olfactive signature has clearly emerged – Bottega … Read More »