interviews: 13 posts

Neela Vermeire : On Perfume, Passion, and India

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A couple of months ago at the Elements Showcase, I had a chance to sit down with Neela Vermeire of Neela Vermeire Créations to ask her a few questions about her trio of fragrances inspired by India. A native of Calcutta, Neela currently lives in Paris, where she launched a line of three fragrances: Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling. The perfumes were developed by Bertrand Duchaufour, who was moved by Indian scents and Neela’s stories. I thought that it would be interesting to share with you what motivated her to plunge into fragrance development, what it was like to work with Duchaufour and how her memories of India shaped the perfumes.

What motivated you to start your own fragrance line?

I have always been passionate about perfumes and wanted to create a few based on my past. It was more organic than simply wanting to start my own line. There was a part of me that wanted to pay homage to the country of my birthplace, India. Having very close ties to it yet living so far away, I wanted to revisit parts of my life whilst I lived there with my family and all my travels back. I wished to pay tribute and also, in a way, to reconnect with the India I had left behind. This had to be done with a highly skilled perfumer who appreciates nuances and gives the best effect without excess—sumptuous, but never smothering, since some natural raw materials can be quite heavy and rich.

I researched three broad periods for the first trio. These will be the guidelines for the future, though there are so many other periods from which to draw inspiration as well. I developed my concept and delved into the periods – not just through history books but using all that is India for me: my olfactory experiences and memories from my childhood to the present times. In a way I wanted to create three perfumes for myself but also to share with others. These perfumes are meaningful to me because it is a personal journey.

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Catherine Deneuve on Her Favorite Perfume and Other Fragrance Topics

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One of the best interviews I have read recently was posted on French blog Simon~says! (thank you for the link, Anissa.) François Simon, a food writer, talks with Catherine Deneuve in his article, Rencontre Avec Catherine Deneuve, about a dizzying range of perfume topics—her first perfume, her role as a fragrance muse, her favorite perfumes on men, the strange scents that she enjoys, etc. The original interview is in French, which I highly recommend reading. For those who do not speak French, I will post a few interesting excerpts. To round out the topic, I will also include mentions of Deneuve’s other scented references from her previous interviews. The legendary movie star is an avid perfume lover, and she even wrote a preface to Frédéric Malle’s new book, On Perfume Making.

Frédéric Malle Noir Epices

Deneuve mentions that she selected Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska for the role of Princess Marie Bonaparte in the mini-series Princesse Marie (2004.) Noir Epices was a perfect way to slip into the character of a strong, bold, audacious woman.

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Maurice Roucel Interview : Excerpt from “22 Perfumers” Book

Maurice roucel

Maurice Roucel is a perfumer whose work I admire for its originality, boldness and unapologetic sensuality, which are clear even in his “big brand” creations. He is the author of Hermès 24, Faubourg, Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur and Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist, among many others. The following is an excerpt from a fantastic book by Clara Molloy called 22 Perfumers: A Creative Process. It features in-depth interviews with 22 perfumers such as Calice Becker, Dominique Ropion, Olivier Polge, Alberto Morillas, Annick Menardo and many others. The book is available in French and English editions and can be found on Clara Molloy’s website.

How did you enter the perfume industry?
At the time, when I started out in 1973, there were only people from Grasse in the perfume industry. I was born in Cherbourg. I arrived in Paris with my parents at the age of 5 and I stayed there. I was passionate about organic chemistry and theoretical physics. In 1973, Henri Robert, the creator of “No 19” by Chanel, hired me to develop a chromatography laboratory. I spent 6 years with Chanel. While I was there, I learned the profession of perfumer by myself; I was self-taught. But I still love organic chemistry, which I find extremely creative! For me, creation is everywhere. Anything can be creative. In my career, I’ve even found myself working on a shampoo. I find it refreshing to have a look elsewhere. There are also surprises in soaps and detergents. Today, it’s clear that in fine perfumery there are more resources, time–sometimes–and a broader scope.

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Francis Kurkdjian : Recipe for a Great Perfumer

Francis Kurkdjian

A remarkably talented perfumer, a creator of his own brand, a former ballet dancer, Francis Kurkdjian represents an idea of a Renaissance man. He first became famous for Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male, which became of the defining masculine fragrances for the 1990s. Subsequently, he created a wide array of scents, from airy Elizabeth Arden Green Tea to smoldering Christian Dior Eau Noire. He also has his own eponymous line. Below are a few excerpts from a good interview Kurkdjian gave to Kanokporn Chanasongkram of Bangkok Post (originally published on September 2005.)

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Serge Lutens Interview : “all my perfumes are sixty six years old”

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Photographer, artist, visionaire… The name of Serge Lutens evokes both his beautiful photographs that recall the Japanese woodblock prints and his perfumes that reinvented the concept of luxury and art in perfumery. Born in Lille, Serge Lutens found himself moved by Morocco in 1968 and Japan in 1970. His collaboration with Shiseido in 1981 resulted with the launch of enigmatic Nombre Noir. In 1992, Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido were born in order to provide a setting for Serge Lutens’ rich collection of olfactory art.

It is my pleasure to bring you an interview with Serge Lutens, who kindly agreed to answer my questions about his creations, inspirations and views on perfumery and art in general.

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