Archive

RAW MATERIALS

Quite recently Hermès announced that nose Christine Nagel would be joining Jean-Claude Ellena as new nose to create new fragrances together for this legendary luxury brand. It was interesting news for many reasons. One is that Jean-Claude Ellena has been alone in his role for a long time (a decade) and it is hard to distinguish what is Hermès and what is master Ellena in an Hermès fragrance. Each fragrance is permeated by his artistry and endless choices down to the most detailed detail. Some were surprised by the choice. I am not familiar enough with Christine Nagels character as a nose to say anything about it other than that it is obvious that taking in a new nose to work with Ellena at Hermès must be a very particular process since everything about this brand is an homage to detail and perfection. So I am curious to discover what this new phase will bring and what Christine Nagel will bring to it. She is the nose behind many Jo Malone fragrances and Narcisco Rodriguez For Her so not at all a typical French haute parfumerie artist but more contemporary in her style.

Photo of Ellena and Nagel in The Cut.

Photo of Ellena and Nagel in The Cut.

The Cut recently did an interview with the new nose team that includes some really interesting statements. Direct and art-focused, just like the fragrances that monsieur Ellena makes.

I do recommend you to read the interview but let me share some highlights. The description of their collaboration is something many creative professionals can relate to and be inspired by. It’s great to hear a master such as Ellena describe their differences as an asset and then their generous way of working as a strength of their team work. They describe progressing together and surprising each other.

The discussion on luxury is also very interesting, this is really a core question in today’s market and zeitgeist I believe. We are becoming more globalized and more ethical consumers which leads to a decreasing interest in show-off luxury items in informed markets. Consumers want something else than a shortcut that mainly signals affluence, the “specialness” in luxury has changed. Jean-Claude Ellena says: “There is no scent that is luxurious. It’s what we do with it that makes it luxurious. Otherwise, how will we know when something is luxurious? The supreme luxury is to take time, and we have time at Hermès” and adds, “the thing that is important at Hermès is that it is the perfumer who decides whether the perfume will go on the market”. He concludes, “this is really the luxury, the freedom”. There is another perfume house characterized by this rule, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle. A much anticipated launch can be delayed because the perfume is not ready. If this is considered luxurious working conditions for the perfumer, than how luxurious is it not for the person who wears the perfume to know that this is the level of dedication and ambition behind it? Does this mean that these perfumes are better? If I look to myself, definitely these two perfume houses take up more space in my perfume collection than other ones and I made many of those selections before knowing these facts behind them. Not surprising of course that Malle’s fragrance range includes two creations by Jean-Claude Ellena.

Jean-Claude Ellena's photo from his lab. Photo used in The Cut.

Jean-Claude Ellena’s photo from his lab. Photo used in The Cut.

For Hermès fans it should be interesting to read the description of Hermès as a day and afternoon brand. To be honest I had actually never thought of this aspect. When I think about it though I realize that in fact I never wear Ellena perfumes in the evening or night, it never felt right. Voyage, Bigarade give me fresh air and energy as I embark on a new day. Ambre Narguilé comfort for an afternoon that closes circles. There is one exception though, Poivre Samarcande, this one I love for a dinner with conversations about life and travel!

I will not reveal more, read the interview. It’s great. And then you will also find out what smelled of vanilla and mold.

For more Ellena I suggest this interview at Perfume Shrine and this one or even better, reading monsieur Ellena’s own books.

Advertisements

I have decided to change my way of working with this website a little bit. Up to now I have used the Sense of Scent Facebook for daily quick updates and news sharing, and this space has been reserved for more lengthy personal articles that appear with some time in between. I notice though that there are more people here than I thought and that the Facebook and this website/blog has different followers. So from now on you will not only find my own lengthy reflections on scent aspects of travel and life but also some interesting perfume industry news, articles etc. This will create more variation in the posts for you and make it easier for me to add new content more often. Just as before, I am entirely independent, I am not sponsored or paid by any company, and I choose to highlight the kinds of products, brands, research and people that I find interesting.

On that note – let me share some nice perfume news that I received in the inbox today from Le Labo.

The Le Labo Marais store in 7, rue Froissart will have “Coffee, Perfume, and Cigarettes” evenings throughout the year. The evenings will be lead by perfume developer Elisabeth Carre. Le Labo describe these evenings as “a gathering and lieu of nonchalant learning, a moment of perfume stories shared amongst friends and scent addicts, smelling and getting backstage details on rare and less-rare ingredients”. (What’s not to like!)

The price is 50 Euros. 7 people per session and each session lasts for about 1 1/2 hours. These are the themes:

White Flowers : from virginity to perversion…
May 14th, 2014 – 18:30

Woods : eternal icons to novel structures
July 9th, 2014 – 18:30

Colorless, odorless and tasteless: water … and perfume
Sept 9th, 2014 – 18:30

Sweets anyone ?
Sept 24th, 2014 – 18:30

Comfort in perfume : the musky way…
Oct 23d, 2014 – 18:30

Le Labo's treasures.

Le Labo’s treasures.

Le Labo stands out in many ways, it is an inspiring brand to follow which offers both really nice content and surprises. For example in terms of communication they excel since the start, in a business where generous dialogue with clients is not at all standard. When Le Labo was launched their style and personalized offer was very unusual and keeping this strong innovative position is a good challenge. A nice example of storytelling is the Community of Craft section on the website. For more about the idea behind Le Labo I recommend this interview with one of the founders Fabrice Penot.

Each Le Labo is built around a main ingredient. The perfumes are named after that main ingredient plus have a number that indicates how many ingredients were used. So Rose 31 is a rose perfume with 31 ingredients. I like many of the Le Labo fragrances. Ambrette 9 is probably my favorite and I admire the softness in it. However another favorite is Vetiver 46, a true no-nonsense super-vetiver.

Their manifesto gives good insight into the essence and what drives the creative work and brand.

Le Labo Manifesto taken from the Le Labo website