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 »
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 »
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 »
Last month I met Christopher Chong, the Creative Director of luxury Omani perfume house, Amouage. Christopher was in Australia for the press launch of his latest fragrance, Sunshine. It is the first eau de parfum from his Midnight Flower collection, which launched last year. Aside from a conversation about the new fragrance, we talked about his 8-year tenure as Creative Director of Amouage, and we spoke about the brand’s direction for the future. With 40 fragrances for Amouage under his belt, Christopher shows no sign of slowing down. Last year he announced the closure of what he termed Amouage’s first cycle. Earlier this year he launched Journey Man and Journey Woman, the first fragrances of his anticipated second cycle. I had heard that this second cycle related more to Christopher’s own life experiences. In order to understand the future, I wanted to understand the past. Below is a transcript of our candid talk, covering Christopher’s own journey with Amouage, his creative process and some interesting thoughts on what might come next.
WMSSL: How did you begin your work with Amouage?
Christopher Chong: It was just by chance. They wanted someone that didn’t come from the industry. Before we joined, things had been … Read More »
One of my favourite writers on the topic of perfume is world renowned author and perfume expert Michael Edwards. His book, Perfume Legends, is a key resource when I am researching legendary perfumes of the 20th century. His Fragrances of the World database is a reference I always use when I write about a perfume on my blog. Michael Edwards has an office here in Australia and Mrs Edwards is Australian, so even if a majority of his time is spent in Europe, America and more recently, the Middle East, Michael returns to Australia every year and I have had the fortune of hearing him give talks about perfume for the past two years; his fragrance masterclasses are also legendary. Earlier this year, Michael accepted my request for an interview and I began recording my conversations with him as part of my research. The final recording I made with him was a talk he gave for Sydney Perfume Lovers, a group of Sydney-based perfume enthusiasts that meet regularly – their calendar of events is posted on their Meetup website. For this event, the group’s founder, Catherine du Peloux Menage organised a Q&A with Michael. Catherine … Read More »
The story of La Parfumerie Moderne begins in the small resort village of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage on the northern coast of France. Overlooking the English Channel, Le Touquet was an early 20th century playground for holidaying British aristocrats and wealthy visitors from all over the world. Business thrived and grand hotels were built on a palatial scale to accommodate visitors. The most notable grand hotel was the Royal Picardy, built in 1929. It was advertised as the largest, most luxurious hotel in the world. For 20 years the Royal Picardy was the jewel of this affluent seaside village but these lucrative years were short lived. War and the Great Depression crippled business and the hotel fell into a state of disrepair. In 1951 it closed its doors forever.
Years later we meet the main character of La Parfumerie Moderne’s story. In the 1960s, Philippe Neirinck was a young boy. The son of hoteliers, he regularly vacationed in Le Touquet with his parents. The Neirincks spent time in one of the vacant palaces, which had closed to the public. While the adults amused themselves, these empty palaces became the playgrounds of children. Wandering from room to room, young Philippe would imagine the hotel … Read More »
Last year when I met perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux, we spoke about many things. We spoke about his work as a Senior Perfumer at Givaudan, one of the world’s most successful producers of fine fragrances and we spoke about Arquiste Parfumeur, a highly acclaimed collection of niche perfumes that Rodrigo co-authored with his colleague and friend, perfumer Yann Vasnier. It was Arquiste’s owner, Carlos Huber, who kindly offered to connect me with Rodrigo when I visited New York. More often than not, perfumers work silently behind their clients and this meeting was a rare opportunity to talk directly with the man responsible for creating multi-million dollar fragrances for some of the most influential names in the fashion and beauty industry. High above the streets of Midtown Manhattan, Rodrigo’s office read like a resume of his career. His desk was filled with rows of neatly coded laboratory vials, modifications of projects he was currently working on. Finished bottles of Rodrigo’s work sat proudly along the sill of his office window. Amongst these bottles were some personal items, which had played a part in inspiring the perfumer. A brightly coloured piñata became a prop in a story about Rodrigo’s Mexican heritage and he … Read More »
This week I have been writing about recently launched perfumes, created by Australian perfume house, Grandiflora Fragrance. If you don’t already know something about these perfumes, I recommend reading the posts I published about Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine and Magnolia Grandiflora Michel, before reading this interview with Saskia Havekes, the author and florist behind Sydney’s Grandiflora brand. Last month I visited Saskia at her address in Sydney’s Potts Point, and below is an excerpt of our conversation about her latest adventure into the world of perfumery.
WMSSL: Flowers to perfumes – it seems like a natural transition but really, it’s not that common right? Tell me how this new adventure started?
Saskia Havekes: I have probably only ever bought myself one fragrance, which was Antonia’s Flowers, many years ago. It was before I worked with flowers and I was living in New York. I found a beautiful little store down in the Village and I’ll never forget finding it, smelling it and thinking that it smelled like a flower shop. Antonia Bellanca was a florist and she lived in the Hampton’s. All of that to me at that age just seemed so glamorous and amazing. And it was such a simple bottle. I … Read More »
Considering the vanilla orchid is harvested in remote parts of the world, it is something most of us will come in contact with on a daily basis, as a flavour in our breakfast yoghurt, an odour in a bath product, an ingredient in a chocolate lunch pastry or the perfume we choose to wear to dinner. In perfumery, vanilla is highly relied upon. Most perfumes contain natural or synthetic vanilla odours. There are fragrances that are all about vanilla, for example the niche Vanille Absolument by L’Artisan Parfumeur, Guerlain’s super gourmand Spiriteuse Double Vanille or the luxurious Vanille Galante by Hermes. Other fragrances require vanilla as part of their DNA; it forms part of the skeletal system of many oriental/ambreine perfumes such as Guerlain Shalimar and Calvin Klein Obsession. In a composition, vanilla can also be used to round off base notes. Sometimes even the most bitter eau fraiche might contain just a touch of vanilla to neutralise the acidic bite of the citrus notes as well as acting like a fixative, to bond the more volatile notes to skin.
From a perfumer’s perspective, the beauty of vanilla lies in its complex odour. It is an odour that encompasses a broad range … Read More »
Last year when I visited Christian Dior in Paris, I was intrigued by one of the bottles in the brand’s perfume organ. The organ is used as a sales tool for consultants to identify the client’s preferred notes. One of the small bottles was labelled New Zealand Ambergris. I was intrigued for two reasons. My first reaction was one of surprise, that major perfume houses such as Dior, were still producing perfume using this rare material and the second was that the small country in which I grew up was supplying one of world’s most iconic names in fashion with perfume ingredients. I never heard of ambergris growing up in New Zealand, so I was surprised to learn it was found there. A surprise that later turned to reason, knowing that whale watching is one of the country’s tourist attractions. I asked the sales consultant if I could dip a paper touché in the ambergris bottle. The resulting smell was somewhere between wood and musk. Unconvinced I smelt unadulterated ambergris and I left Paris with a mental note; I wanted to find natural ambergris on my next visit to New Zealand.
Last week I was in Auckland on New Zealand’s north … Read More »