Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:54

Unraveling the art of 'haute parfumerie'

One of the many traits that defines your personality is your perfume. A perfume, if chosen wisely, can enhance your persona and help you leave an impression on the mind of every single person that you interact with. This is why the trend of custom made individual perfumes is catching on rapidly. The aim is to reflect your own unique persona through your scent. A single whiff of your fragrance registers an unspoken message in the subconscious mind of the people around you. It is a bespoke art that is understood and appreciated by only the truest of luxury enthusiasts. 

What makes people pay thousands of dollars to get their own exclusive perfume? What is the process and art that goes into the creation of this personal perfume? Read on as French perfumer Nicolas De Barry, who has deeply studied and explored the art of 'haute parfumerie', answers many such questions exclusively for Luxe Point India.
 
 
How will you define "haute parfumerie" ?
 
In perfumery, “Haute Parfumerie” would be the equivalent of the term “Haute Couture” in fashion. This is the creation of a unique perfume for an exclusive client. In order to create a personal scent, I need to know the client and his/her olfactory taste. The communication between the client and the perfumer is crucial. The client is highly involved in the creation process by expressing emotions and the perfumer has to be able to capture and interpret the client’s reactions. 

     
Where do you meet your clients for the making of a personal perfume?
     
The interview takes place in the client’s place or in my atelier, surrounded by the nature, in the “Château de Frileuse” near Blois (France). We begin with an olfactory test where the client smells around twelve perfumes, one from each family: Chypre, Oriental, Fougère, Floral, Cologne etc. Then we continue smelling the most precious essential oils from flowers like jasmine, rose, tuberose, narcissus, ylang-ylang, osmanthus…woods such as oud, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver…or citrus oils like bergamot, mandarin and lemon. After carefully examining what the client “loves”, “likes”, “hates”… I am ready to start tailoring his/her personal perfume. 

How long does it take to get the perfume ready?
     
It varies from client to client but usually after a few weeks, he/she receives around three prototype samples. In the best of the cases, the client will choose one of the samples, but he/she could also ask for adjustments: “a softer version”, “boost one the ingredient” or “the blend of two samples”. 

How much does this exclusive service cost?  
     
The price of a custom-made creation is 14.000 $ but keep in mind that it is something for a lifetime.

How do you choose the different scents to be used? 
     
In perfumery, we choose the raw materials depending on the quality and price. Some of the parameters to take in account, for instance, are the extraction method or the geographical origin of the particular ingredient. For example, we can find rose “absolute”, rose “essential oil”, from Grasse (May Rose), Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco, India…and the price goes from 1.500 to 5.000 $ per litre. In my case, I have my own supplier that provides me with the best Bulgarian and Grasse rose. 
The most expensive raw materials in perfumery are Jasmine, Neroli (orange flower), Lotus, Narcissus, Sandalwood, Rose and animal extractions like civet or amber. However, the winners are Iris and Oud. 
Out of a hundred different varieties, the white iris from Florence and Iris pallida are the most used in perfumery. It is the rhizome (root) and not the flower the part of the plant that develops the richness of floral notes. The iris butter absolute adds this characteristic powdery note to perfumes that reminds us to scented powders used by our grandmothers. The price is around 30.000$ per litre. 
Oud, also known agarwood or aloeswood, comes from Southeast Asia. It has a rich and complex scent that combines well with many ingredients, especially with rose. Actually, Oud is the pathological secretion in response to a fungal infection of the woods of Aquilaria trees. The fragrant oil secreted gradually hardens and becomes a dark brown to black oleoresin.  Moreover, as it happens with wine, the aromaticity and therefore the quality increase with time. Hence, there are different grades with different prices. Oud cost around 30.000 $ per litre, but Premium quality Oud can double the price up to 60.000$ per litre. 

How do you create the harmony between perfume and skin?

Have you ever noticed that the same perfume smells different on different people? It is a well-known fact, that each individual is different and smells different.  There are many aspects that contribute to the skin odour – including age, sex, race, diet, climate and atmospheric pressure. That is why, when deciding the perfume you want to buy, the best thing to do is to try it on your own skin. It is also important to be patient and not just directly choose from the first sniff. We should wait a couple of hours to better appreciate the base notes and the perfume’s ‘sillage’ or longevity. In the case of custom-made perfumes, finding the suitable perfume for your skin is part of the creation process of your own perfume fragrance. Always, remember that a perfume is your second skin, invisible but extremely powerful.

 

 

 

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