Perfumer Christine Nagel: Scent and Emotion

Nagel

Christine Nagel is a perfumer, whose creations include Armani Privé Ambre Soie, Thierry Mugler B*Men (with Jacques Huclier), Mauboussin Histoire d’Eau Topaz, Cartier Eau de Cartier, Narciso Rodriguez for Her (with Francis Kurkdjian), Fendi Theorema, and Guerlain With Love. When presented during an interview with a question of “which fragrances convey a real emotion to you,” she responds:

[Chanel] Bois des îles, because this fragrance has an incredible magic to it. [Shiseido] Féminité du Bois, which I find magnificent. I also adore Opium because of its perfect coherence with the brand. And [Clinique] Aromatics Elixir because of its seductive sensuality. These fragrances fascinate me, they make me shiver.” Read the rest of the interview on Scented Pages (edit: link no longer working).

If asked the same question, what would you answer?

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19 Comments

  • helg: She has great taste !

    Actually Opium is the magic amulet and talisman for me : it makes me feel like an empress , mysterious , superior and regal.

    What else makes me shiver? Hmmm…..
    Mitsouko also holds a fascination over me , it’s so mysterious and alluring in a subliminar way. I also am moved by Narciso for Her ( the edt) , makes me feel joyful and attractive every time. Conveys a young and warm , cuddly feeling.
    I know I loved the way my mother’s Cabochard and Madame Rochas gave the impression of soigne soirees of a bourgeois sensibility , but those two are destroyed now , alas….

    Great subject ! October 12, 2005 at 2:05am Reply

  • Marina: That is a woman of great taste 🙂 Bois des Iles is indeed magical! All hail Christine Nagel! 🙂 October 12, 2005 at 10:02am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: E, thank you for such wonderful descriptions. I cannot agree more on Opium, even though I do not seem to wear it much outside of the privacy of my house.

    Cabochard has indeed been changed, losing its darkness and becoming a rather approachable chypre. Chypre genre has to have some twist for me to enjoy it, and the modern Cabochard definitely does not have it. October 12, 2005 at 10:10am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, yes, Bois des Iles is a perfection. So innovative for the time, and still remaining very special. October 12, 2005 at 10:10am Reply

  • mreenymo: Hmmm, now you are making me think. 🙂

    Opium is a magnificent fragrance no matter how you slice it. Unfortunately, it does not like me, but on the right person, it smells divine.

    Shalimar extrait is sheer, sublime perfection.

    Coco is also up there, because it’s sensual, yet so wearable.

    Today I am wearing POTL body cream. While I can’t comfortably wear the fragrance (I think it has something in it that does not agree with me), I now understand why so many of my fragrance friends say it is their holy grail of fragrance.

    Hugs! October 12, 2005 at 11:49am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, Shalimar is one of those fragrances that I can admire from a distance. Something in it makes me intensely allergic, which is the only fragrance that has that effect on me.

    POTL ended up like almond crossed with glue, which was interesting, but ultimately unwearable. I wonder about the body cream, but I know that I just do not need it. Of course, need is such a relative concept. As I need that bottle of Bois d’Encens I keep pining after. October 12, 2005 at 12:51pm Reply

  • Tania: She did Eau de Cartier? How weird! For some reason, I always assumed Jean-Claude Ellena had done it. As for a scent that conveys real emotion, today I am wearing Chanel Cuir de Russie, and it makes me feel that combination of nostalgic ache and present beauty that I think is the result of knowing something now is so beautiful that you are already thinking of all the moments of your life that are not so beautiful, and missing it from those perspectives, past and future, already. 😉

    Some beautiful things convey nostalgic ache, but others convey present joy: Pamplelune does that; Lolita Lempicka is about being sixteen and flirtatious right now, not about having been a long time ago and remembering it; Chanel No. 19 is being perfectly content to be by yourself, at a table for one; Shalimar is about being obviously sexy and smug about it; and for some reason I think of Delrae Amoureuse as the smell of wanting something you can’t have—bittersweet. October 12, 2005 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Katie: There’s some that come to mind for me for this question. Organza Indecence makes me feel content, calm. Bal a Versailles makes me feel, uh, well, randy. Heh. Magie Noire makes me feel powerful and exultant. And at the risk of offending everyone and their dog, Miss Dior (new, not meaning the vintage!) makes me feel spiteful and mean. D&G’s Light Blue makes me feel lost and sad, because it has this element to it that smells very much like the hospital my twins spent so much time in at the NICU after they were born. October 12, 2005 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Katie: D’oh! And I forgot her own Theorema, which makes me feel happy and calm. October 12, 2005 at 1:05pm Reply

  • carmencanada: Scents and sentiments… what a lovely theme… The Spanish have a word for what Tania describes: it is called “duende”, and is felt in great moments of beauty, because of the fleeting nature of that beauty — of the promises it can not possibly keep. But Lorca, in an essay, draws a parallel between “duende”, the muse and the angel, as a sources of artistic inspiration.
    Of course, some great perfumes have “duende” — Guerlain’s Mitsouko and Après l’Ondée.
    Caron’s Narcisse Noir and Nuit de Noël.
    Ormonde Woman makes me feel both sensuous and reserved, like I could keep the secret of that sensuousness to myself, with a tinge of nostalgia — the violet, perhaps.
    Muscs Koublaï Khan makes me want to roll around on the rug like a cat; wearing Bornéo 1834, I’m that same cat rolled up in ball, dreaming of tropical heat. October 12, 2005 at 1:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, yes, that salty hesperidic note could almost be JCE. Eau de Cartier was one of my favourite fragrances for a while.

    The nostalgic ache is almost intrinsic to any beautiful thing. It is the element of longing for it to last, while knowing that it is evanescent and temporary, whatever the concept of time is. If it is meant to vanish, the longing is even strong. In ballet, my experience has been with trying to approach some idea of beauty, which is very difficult, if not impossible. Sometimes it would happen. In the moments, which I can almost feel right now as I am typing this, everything would vanish, and the exhiliration I would feel cannot be described. At the very same time, I knew that the next thing will be a bitter disappointment, because the perfection of the moment cannot be sustained. Therefore, I can undestand really well what you mean.

    Incidentally, Amoureuse has the same effect on me. It is the essence of a bittersweet longing. October 12, 2005 at 1:49pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I love your scent-emotion analogues. Magie Noire is definitely a fragrance that exudes power, with a current of seduction hidden in it. I love that you keep reminding me about this fragrance. It is so rarely mentioned now.

    Finally, I cannot agree more on Theorema! You captured its spirit so well–calm and happy. It is a very elegant composition. October 12, 2005 at 1:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, I love the mention of Lorca, whose treatment of duende has fascinated me for a long time.

    “Angel and Muse approach from without, the Angel sheds light and the Muse gives form. But the Duende, on the other hand, must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood.” (not sure how close this is, I think that it is almost verbatum though).

    Many of the classic fragrance have duende for me, by virtue of their being from another period of time. Among modern ones, I find that iris notes with their austerity and chilled character lend something melancholy. One such example is Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist. Another is the new Cerruti Collection, which has a tinge of melancholy underneath gauzy, light floral notes, yet it does not take it to extremes. Somehow, it is very appealing. October 12, 2005 at 2:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I forgot to mention that your description of how Miss Dior makes you feel made me laugh out loud. Not that I can relate, but it is definitely amusing. Of course, I cannot envision how you can offend me with a negative perfume description. I am about to get my paper ripped to shreds by my professor today, therefore my level of sensitivity is rather low in anticipation of that taking place. October 12, 2005 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Liz: Dear V, Iris Poudre is definitely melancholy for me, though not unhappy – a serene melancholy.

    Hypnotic Poison makes me feel lustful, to the point of physical arousal. I don’t know if that can be accurately called a strong emotion, but it’s a strong something…

    Hypnotic Poison’s opposite is Muscs Koublai Khan, because it conjures satiety rather than hunger. It’s post-coital: the scent of afterglow and well-earned sleepiness! So it is ultimately a comfort scent for me.

    Narcisse Noir made me cry the first few times I smelled it. It was not associated with any particular emotion other than the Narcisse Noir emotion, which is a mystery.

    And Bandit seems to fill in all the nicks and holes in my psyche like spackle, so the emotional effect is a kind of heightened contentment and alertness. October 12, 2005 at 2:20pm Reply

  • carmencanada: V., I do love this subject… And I’m so glad you know about Lorca and duende. I was going to mention Iris Silver Mist, because it has a haughty melancholy to it — strangely enough, Fleurs d’orangers too, but that may be because it reminds me of springtime in Sevilla and all my “duende” moments there. Duende is especially felt in performing arts (the fields were the genius of women was best expressed throughout the centuries, IMO).
    Liz : I very much agree on the satiety factor in MKK, the enigma that is Narcisse Noir and well, as for Bandit, it’s so offbeat and modern in its composition that its makes me feel quite tough and confident, almost trangressive. Someone on MUA referred to it as being conceived for a seldom seen archetype, the female lonesome hero. That was very well put. October 12, 2005 at 5:04pm Reply

  • carmencanada: P.S., good luck with your paper, V., but I’m sure it cannot possibly be ripped to shreds ! October 12, 2005 at 5:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Liz, thank you for such superb descriptions! I loved reading them. And yes, I would classify lust as an emotion!

    “Bandit seems to fill in all the nicks and holes in my psyche like spackle”–now that is another priceless quote from you. October 12, 2005 at 6:43pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, thank you for sharing your impressions and for bringing up the duende. I loved thinking about it and reminding myself of Lorca. In the performing arts, the essence of creation lies in the duende, otherwise the emotion cannot be conjured and felt by the audience.

    I appreciate your kind words about my paper. I do not mind criticism, as long as it is constructive. October 12, 2005 at 7:02pm Reply

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