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Fragrance Lovers

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Award-winning Master Perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer is the nose behind countless beautiful fragrances. Perhaps you own one? She began her career training at the famous Givaudan Roure perfumery school in Provence, formerly known as Roure Bertrand Fils, where Yuri Gutsatz was head perfumer during his lifetime.  Nathalie was the first “non Grasse” born student to attend this prestigious school of perfumery, breaking years of tradition.

Nathalie has worked for some of the world’s biggest and most celebrated perfume houses: Cartier, Amouage, Comme des Garcons, Clarins,  Hermès, Lancome, Mugler, Nina Ricci, Balmain (Vent Vert 1999), Van Cleef and Arpels, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent. She was also the nose behind Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium (one of Samantha’s personal favorites).

Nathalie is now an independent perfumer, having founded her own brand, LAB Scent. Her recent work for Sous Le Manteau won “Best newcomer award” at the UK Fragrance Foundation Awards 2020, adding to her many previous awards, including the FiFi Perfumer of The year 2019.

From her Paris home and lab, she found time to answer our questions: short, sweet, and scented!

What question do you get asked more often ?

What did you do to become a perfumer? And can you recognize the perfume I’m wearing?

What is your first scent memory ?

The flowers of my mother’s garden, I used to smell them all day. I also remember the scent of Opium perfume.

What was the first fragrance you bought ?

Yves Saint Laurent Opium, I saved up for a whole year to buy it.

How did you discover us ?

On Facebook with all the social media posts and alerts. 

What does fragrance mean to you ?

It is personal, like a signature.

What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future ?

More diversity, more points of view and more sincerity.

Nathalie Feisthauer was in conversation with Samantha Scriven.

Maxence Moutte is an essential member of Team LJR.  It is Maxence who brings Yuri’s fragrances back to life from the many hand written formulas that Yuri left behind. Maxence’s encyclopaedic knowledge of ingredients ensures that our perfumes remain authentic, compliant and of course, nature friendly wherever possible. We feel exceptionally lucky to have him and when you discover how our paths crossed, you may think it was destiny. Our Fragrance Lover questions are a little different this week, as you can see.

What made you want to be a perfumer?

I grew up in Provence and as a kid, I wanted to be a botanist.  I thought that flowers could be invented and I loved the idea of doing that as a job. When I discovered that flowers couldn’t be designed and created, I went off the idea, but flowers and plants have always attracted me. A few years later, my ambitions changed when I discovered a world of fragrance in my mother’s collection of perfume miniatures. I even collected the advertisements. I was fifteen when I decided to be a perfumer and went to visit Grasse. I write to Givaudan in the 90s asking how to apply, and they replied.  Once I was accepted, I spent several years training in different areas. The work I do for Le Jardin Retrouvé is separate from Givaudan, however.

How did you discover us?

When I was a perfumery student, I studied many companies and perfumers in the early 2000s. I found a bottle of Le Jardin Retrouvé perfume in a little boutique and wanted to know more.  At that time, niche perfumery was gaining in popularity. I wrote to Yuri Gutsatz and asked if it was possible to meet him. Sadly, he was nearing the end of his life and I wasn’t able to, but I never forgot his fragrances.

Several years later, at my brother’s wedding, I met a man called Michel Gutsatz and his wife Clara. I asked if he had any connection to Yuri Gutsatz, and he told me that was his father. I told him I was a perfumer and we spoke at length.

Fast forward to 2016 and when Michel and Clara revived Le Jardin Retrouvé, I was the perfumer they contacted, and of course, I happily said yes.  Between finding that bottle in the shop many years ago and creating them myself in the lab took a long time, but you need to be patient when it comes to perfume.

How do you begin a composition?

When I recreate a fragrance for Le Jardin Retrouvé, I follow the original formula to the letter. I check that the formula complies with IFRA regulations.  Oakmoss is an example of how we succeeded in continuing its use and remaining compliant. Our supplier was able to produce an oakmoss that was still compliant despite some types being restricted.

Sometimes I have to make small changes for the sake of compliance, but if it doesn’t smell the same, the ingredient is changed until it does.  Many of them did not need to be reworked in order to comply.  I also keep Yuri’s original bottles on the shelf in the lab for reference and inspiration.

Do you wear the fragrances you make?

I always try them on the skin as well as blotters. You get to know how it behaves that way. Fragrance varies throughout the day and from skin to skin.

How important is transparency to you?

Transparency is especially important when it comes to ingredients.  Being a small house,  we are lucky to have autonomy over our suppliers and the freedom to select the finest and most suitable ingredients from them. Wherever possible, we try and maintain the same suppliers Yuri worked with.

Out of the ten perfumes you’ve brought back to life, which one gave you the most satisfaction?

It’s hard to pick one. It’s probably Cuir de Russie. The leathery base was hard to get right. Michel wrote to Symrise to track down the authentic ingredient. Getting the leather base right was fundamental to the finished result. Yuri didn’t use a lot of bases, but in Cuir de Russie he did.

What was your inspiration for the Mousse Mystique candle?

I created Mousse Mystique three years ago and it was a tricky balance to walk in Yuri’s shoes and bring in my own touch to it too.   I was inspired by the gardens in Kyoto, Japan, and kept a picture of it near me as I worked. I wanted a green vegetal top note with a chypre elegance.  The green, grassy notes came from lentiscus.  The humidity and earthy dampness came from patchouli.  I added a touch of incense for a Japanese feel. 

Are there plans to bring back any more of Yuri’s rose fragrances?

We thought about it and we’re waiting for the proper opportunity. Yuri was very good with roses. There used to be three rose fragrances:  Rose d’Opera and Rose de Mai.  Rose Trocadero was known as Rose Thé.  Maybe one day!

What was your favourite fragrance from the Perfume Revival Project in 2018?

My favourite was the one that didn’t get made! I was #teamgreen. However, I also love Oriental Sans Souci.

How would you describe Yuri’s style of perfumery?

Yuri’s formulas are quite short – often there are only thirty ingredients. Most perfumes have at least forty. He has a complex, Baroque style and he adds a little touch of something unexpected. For example, in Tubéreuse Trianon, he added a raspberry note. In Sandalwood Sacré he used five base notes.  You could say he creates unexpected twists that add a finishing touch. He was a true original.   

Our very own Samantha Scriven is not only a valued member of our team but has been a perfume blogger since 2013. Sam has twice been a finalist in the Fragrance Foundation Jasmine Awards UK and has been featured several times in The Perfume Society Scented Letter Magazine. She also writes for award winning website ÇaFleureBon and is currently working on a book, due out in 2021. She lives in Wales with her husband, sons and cats.

1.What question do you get asked most often?

There are two questions I get asked most often. One is what my favourite perfume is and the second is what smells like…(insert name of discontinued favourite.) I don’t mind either question and I always love to hook people up with a new fragrance they might not have thought of. As for my favourite? It changes every day.

2. What’s your first scent memory??

All my early scent memories are related to gardens. I played outside as much as I could and I also spent a lot of time in my Nanna Thomas’s garden. She grew herbs, roses, lily of the valley and taught me the name of so many wild flowers. I also used to like the smell of the tomatoes in Gransha Gough’s greenhouse too.  At one point when I was little, I even ate flowers (Not recommended, although clover is delicious).

3. What was the first fragrance you bought

The first was Cacharel LouLou, which I wore throughout my university years in the late 80s. I went through a bottle a month. Apologies to everyone who ate breakfast with me back then. I was a compulsive over sprayer!

4. How did you discover us?

I had been blogging for three years in 2016 when Le Jardin Retrouvé approached me and introduced themselves. I was immediately on board: beautiful classic fragrances, refillable bottles and very cute sample sets.  I was particularly taken with the fragrances, as the trend at the time was for very sweet and sugary scents, which were not my thing at all. A lot of fleeting perfume trends are aimed at under 25s and as a fortysomething (I’m now fifty) I often felt overlooked, so these were right up my street!  Two years later, when I went freelance, a dream came true when I started working for them.  Meeting the team in the Paris Experience Store was the career highlight of my life.

5. What does fragrance mean to you?

 Fragrance is my daily dressing up box. It can take me to Paris in the Belle Epoque or to a garden bursting with flowers, or it can wrap me up snugly in Autumn. If I have an event coming up, I spend more time planning my perfume than I do my clothes. Often, fragrance is the only daily decision that’s purely for me and not for anyone else.  It’s five minutes of choice and indulgence before someone shouts my name again!

6.What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?

I know I’m not the first to say it or think it, but if I could make a speech to the fragrance industry it would say “Slow Down!” No sooner does a new launch come out than there’s an “Intense” version and an eau de parfum/eau de toilette version and then a “Nuit” version and a “L’Eauversion and it’s all been launched before you can even buy the original.

I also want to see a lot more sustainability and less waste. Refills are the way forward.  In times of social distancing, trying samples at home is better than touching testers in crowded shops. Brands who don’t do  samples are missing a trick.

Further reading

Check out Samantha’s blog iscentyouaday and read her article for Cafleurebon on her trip to our Experience Store. Feature photo of Samantha by Alison Oddy.

Samantha Scriven was in conversation with Clara Feder.

Brazilian Cassiano Silva founded Perfumart in 2013 and has continued to engage and grow his online community with his acclaimed perfume reviews for seven years. With a professional background in marketing, advertising and branding, Cassiano has an invaluable knowledge and understanding of the perfume industry and took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.

What is the question you get most commonly asked?

LOL…that’s easy! 
“Hi! I am a man/woman and I am (age). I like fragrances of types A, B, and C and I would like to buy something up to (amount R$) for this purpose (work/clubbing/dating). Can you indicate to me some perfumes?”

What is your earliest childhood scent memory?

I think it is coffee.  But I also remember the scent of the rain touching the hot asphalt and the scent of cleaning products, since I and my brother were raised to help at home doing some tasks, like cleaning dogs, doing the dishes, etc. 

What was the first perfume you bought?

Brazilian: I guess it was Absinto, by Água de Cheiro.
International: well, I think it was Café Café, by Café Parfums. 


How did you know about us?

I am always looking for new brands, houses, and fragrances around the world since I have always wanted to turn my blog into a reference for Brazilians.  When I read about the revival project of Le Jardin Retrouvé, I decided to get in contact with Michel and Clara, and a beautiful relationship was born (which is not so common within this industry full of egos). 

I met Clara’s daughter in Brazil (before she left the country), published my reviews for the whole collection and since then I am always trying to make more people around here to discover the effort and the magic behind the LJR creations.

What does fragrance mean to you?

You know, I grew up with some self-esteem issues for being a short boy. Then, the sexuality part just helped to mess up with all the expectations people used to put on my shoulders (besides my own).
And since I could not afford expensive clothes from renowned brands and I always loved the perfumery field, fragrances have always been my superhero costume and mask. Through the years, they became my second – and more beautiful – skin, lifting my mood, giving me confidence and comfort when needed, and creating a unique character around my name: the scented guy!

Some people smoke and others drink in order to forget their problems. I prefer to look at several gorgeous bottles and decide which fragrance is going to make me feel better.


What does the fragrance industry need to do from now on?


Unfortunately, the luxury, glamor, and quality of yesteryear no longer exist. Perfumery has changed and become commonplace in exchange for millionaire figures. Luckily, the manifest that counted on with the help of Yuri Gutsatz brought back the focus on talent, creativity, and the power of fragrances.

However, in a short period of time, this segment has also been losing strength and surrendering itself for market share. To make matters worse, some brands use the excuse of more expensive and rare raw materials as a justification for charging absurd prices. How does the customer know if the press release tells the truth about what the fragrance brings inside?

Here in Brazil, for example, companies that make copies of the most famous fragrances in the mass market are selling a lot, precisely because the globalized consumer no longer wants a single perfume to wear as a signature. He/she wants to have several and, preferably, that are similar to others of more expensive brands, which are disseminated on social media by young influencers and delusional YouTubers.

2020 was an atypical year, which proved that sales need to go beyond training and retailer stores. If the industry does not change its approach quickly, stopping looking for likes on Instagram, the brands we call Designers today will end up bringing more copies of Prestige brands (like Tom Ford, for instance) in order to compete with the increased sales of fragrances that are already counterfeits.

And if the brands on the other side of the fence (indie, artisan, etc.) do not change its approach with this “high luxury” small talk, forgetting that they need to invest in word-of-mouth advertising through real fragrance influencers (as in the recent past), instead of spending rivers of money on luxurious websites, fanciful approaches, and nonsense PR professionals, there will be a general collapse at some point.


Do you have any projects you’d like to tell our readers about?

I have a huge list of great ideas and no investment behind me. But I am trying to work on some collabs as Creative-director. Right now, things are going slow and time is running fast. 

Who knows I will have my name in some international fragrance soon?

Cassiano Silva was in conversation with Samantha Scriven. Find his website at Perfumart.

“I feel scents as silent poetry, invisible soul-deep impressions”.

Elena Cvjetkovic

You may know Elena Cvjetkovic as The Plum Girl, a multi award winning blogger who writes about niche perfume from her home in Zagreb, Croatia. Elena earned a place in the top five finalists in the 2018 Fragrance Foundation awards with her review of our very own Cuir de Russie. You can also find her perfumed prose on Cafleurebon. You may also have enjoyed our recent live feed with her, which you can watch again here. Here are the questions Clara put to her:

What Question do you get asked most often?

People often ask me, “Why The Plum Girl?” My answer? The first victim in Patrick Susskind’s novel Perfume was the Plum Girl.

What is your first Scent Memory?

The scent of my mother’s skin and then summertime. As kids we were sent to relatives on a farm for the first part of the holidays. My great uncle had so many different animals on his huge farm as well as fruit, flowers and vegetables.. I remember how a clean barn smells and how a dirty barn smells. I recall the smell of horses, of rolling in wheat, fresh plums, mud, rain, wet hay and the smell of a cow’s belly when I was milking it. The second part of our holiday would be on the Adriatic coast where I remember the scent of sea grass, shells crabs, rocks, pine trees and immortelle.

What was your first fragrance?

Growing up in former Yugoslavia, there was no fragrance available unless you travelled abroad. My mother had a bottle of Chanel No 5, but I wasn’t allowed to wear it. I maybe had rosewater or lavender water, nothing else. My father bought me a bottle of Poison for my 18th birthday. The first I bought myself may have been Dune or Paloma Picasso. I also loved Gucci Envy.

How many perfumes do you have today?

I try and stay under one hundred. I’m not a collector, I’m a user, I like to use it all up until it’s gone!

photo by Elena

How did you discover us?

I followed you on social media and then we talked and got to know each other. You sent me some samples and eventually I visited you in Paris. I remember you used to be based very near to the Arc de Triomphe.

What does fragrance mean to you?

Fragrance is art. Art moves something inside you so I regard fragrance as an art form. It’s liquid emotion.

When did you get serious about blogging?

For years I was serious about perfume but kept it to myself. I went to two weeks of workshops in Grasse in 2016. I try and go every two years. A French woman asked me what I was doing there. I told her I came to learn. She asked if I was in the industry or looking for a job, but I said no, I just came to learn. She asked me a question that inspired what I did next. She said “What are you going to do with this knowledge? How are you going to share what you’ve learned?” Answer: write a blog!

What does the fragrance industry need in the future?

This year proved that everything can change in a matter of days. The industry needs to adapt, have more transparency, more inclusivity and more authenticity. It all goes back to core values. In tough times, turn to your core values. What do you stand for? Who are your perfumers?

What advice would you give to someone who wants to choose a perfume

Take your time. Do it the old fashioned way. Enjoy the whole process of acquiring a new perfume, no blind buys, enjoy the choosing. Discover your preferences. Surprise yourself. Wear it at home, in the morning, the afternoon and evening. Give it time to develop on your skin. Follow your nose!

What’s next for you?

More reviews. I am constantly trying perfume, even wearing it to bed! I also write for Cafleurebon. I am also creative director for a perfume about to launch.

Neil Chapman is a British writer based in Japan. He is a recipient of the coveted UK Fragrance Foundation Jasmine Literary Award and the author of Perfume:In Search of Your Signature Scent. You may also know him for The Black Narcissus, his acclaimed blog that talks about perfume and life in Japanese life with equal vivacity. We were delighted that Neil took time to answer our nosy questions.

What is the question you get most commonly asked?

‘What is your favourite perfume?’ (Vintage Chanel No 19 parfum or Guerlain Vol De Nuit extrait) or ‘Why did you decide to go and live in Japan?’ (on a whim). 

 What is your earliest childhood scent memory?

 In nature,  the smell of pinks, carnations, roses, and peonies in our childhood summer garden as a child, where I was in bliss. In perfume, my mother’s Oscar De La Renta which I found impossibly glamorous and dreamy and made me feel like I was in an episode of Dynasty or Dallas. 

 What was the first perfume you bought?

 I saved up my paper round money and bought the bottle of Xeryus by Givenchy I had been lusting after from a chemist’s at the top of the road. It was an onyx-like fresh aromatic fougere that the girls went crazy for at school : at that moment I realized how powerful and magnetic perfume can be. 

How did you discover us? 

I already had a bottle of  Tubereuse Trianon from a while back which I love to wear in summer as it is elegant but exuberant. I am also a regular reader of I Scent You A Day and saw that Samantha had written some reviews of the brand and its renaissance. I like the combination of classic and modern. 

What does fragrance mean to you?

Fragrance is both aesthetics and pleasure : a capturing of time, memory and emotion. There is a magic to the whole idea and experience of elixirs and poison captured in beautiful bottles : when I was a child, long before Harry Potter, I used to pretend I was a wizard at school with a ‘coven’ of classmates, trying to make rose water and entering imaginary worlds. Being captivated by perfume was a natural progression for me!

Neil Chapman

What does the fragrance industry need to do from now on? 

I think the fragrance industry needs to slow down. Focus more on quality than quantity, and encourage creativity and iconoclastic genre-breaking in its perfumers. In the 80’s and 90’s, boundaries were broken with brand new perfumes like Poison, Fahrenheit, CK One: they smelled like nothing before them. We need less of the same, more of the new. 

Do you have any other projects up your sleeve? 

I am doing a live interactive event with Art & Olfaction on August 31st on the joys of vintage perfume and am thinking about writing my life story! 

Top feature photo credit: Neil Chapman

Rich Goller is the writer and photographer behind the popular blog fragroom. We always enjoy reading Rich’s lyrical prose and seeing his breathtaking visuals which he creates from his home in South Africa. He kindly took time out of his busy fragrant life to answer our nosy questions.

What question do you get asked most often?

People always ask me, “Do you sell fragrances”? The answer is no, I just write about them.

What’s your first scent memory?

My mother wearing Bien-Être, a very popular eau de cologne in Mauritius, where she was born. I loved its refreshing citrus vibe. To this day, I’m a sucker for cheap, but chic-smelling eau de colognes.


What was the first fragrance you bought?

The Body Shop White Musk. For good reason, this 80s classic seems to feature in many of our lives.


How did you discover us?

If I remember correctly, you discovered me. (edit: Rich is quite correct! He wrote beautifully about our fragrances here on his blog)

Photo by Rich Goller


What does fragrance mean to you?

It means so many things, depending on the mood. That’s part of its beauty. At their best, fragrances are works of creative and technical brilliance, which is why I love interviewing perfumers so much. They are a key element of a specific time, along with music, fashion, art and design.On a more personal level, they bring me pure pleasure, escapism and comfort. These have become even more important in our covid world.


What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future? 

Gosh, that’s a big question and so early in the morning. I’m all for  mystique, but there needs to be a lot less bamboozling of consumers.

 

Michelyn Camen is the Editor-in-Chief, Publisher, and Art Director of ÇaFleureBon, the number one niche, independent and natural fragrance destination in the world and a top five global fragrance site. ÇaFleureBon publishes original content on all aspects of perfumery 365 days a year, affording readers an insider view into the world of fragrance. Michelyn leads a team of sixteen contributors and editors from seven countries. The team of journalists at ÇaFleureBon have been the recipients of editorial excellence awards including Fragrance Foundation USA and the Perfumed Plumes.

ÇaFleureBon posts perfume reviews, coverage of international beauty and scent events, news within the fragrance industry, educational information on raw materials and ingredients, workshops, as well as articles on the roles of creative directors, artisans and retailers in the fragrance ecosystem. She is well known for her in-depth and intimate interviews with independent, emerging and established perfumers and influencers., as well as shining a spotlight on rising perfumers, emerging brands and creative directors.

CaFleureBon Michelyn Camen, Ermano Picco and Ida Meister April 25, 2019. Photo credit: Ermano Picco

What question do you get asked most often?

How do you pronounce the name of the site? Sah-fleure-bon. It is a French term with a dual meaning; this smells good and this is a good idea.

 Do you wear perfume every day?

The answer might surprise you. Until 2020, no. I test approximately 500 fragrances a year, so I need a “clean skin canvas”. But I wore lipstick every day. As of COVID-19, I do wear fragrance in the morning and in the evening to test for anosmia.

What are your first scent memories?  

I grew up in a 2-bedroom basement apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y. My dad was very young when I was born and worked two jobs to put himself through college and support a family. His day job was selling fruits at a local grocery. There was always fresh produce in our lives…  I remember the scent, the taste of peaches, plums and cherries. Outside, there was the intoxicating perfume of linden and lilacs during the summer, that bloomed seemingly out of concrete.

What was the first fragrance you bought?

Rive Gauche by Michael Hy in the 1970s. I bought it because I liked the way it smelled on my best friend. The first “independent” perfume I purchased was at Henri Bendel, when it was located on 57th Street (it subsequently moved to Fifth Avenue then permanently closed January 19, 2019). The scent was from master perfumer, Jean Laporte for L’Artisan Parfumeur and was named Pamplemousse. It has been discontinued, but I still have the bottle and a trace of the scent remains.

What does fragrance mean to you?

Permit me to answer your question from a different perspective. What fragrance DOESN’T mean to me. It doesn’t mean endless flankers of best sellers; it doesn’t mean launch upon launch of new collections. Fragrance is a story. It is the perfumer’s story first and then if it suits you, it becomes yours. We each have a scent print as unique as a snowflake. So, what is heaven on one person, might be a scrubber on another. (re: Rive Gauche which smelled great on my friend).

Oriental Sans Souci limited edition art work by Clara Feder

How did you discover Le Jardin Retrouvé?

Michel Gutsatz and his wife Clara Feder sent me samples in 2016; I believe we were among the first to review the inaugural collection. I asked Aaron Potterman, who was a Senior Contributor at that time to review the first collection, which he loved. My favourite was called Black. I believe it is now named Oriental Sans Souci.

What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?

More transparency, more diversity and more consumer education. And please credit the authors of the fragrances instead of hiding behind a perfume organ.

Michelyn Camen with perfumer Frank Voelkl. Photo credit Luca Maffei

What’s next for ÇaFleureBon?

ÇaFleureBon’s tenth anniversary was on March 22, 2020 in the midst of the Pandemic.  While we don’t know what the future will bring, we hope to continue to bring our readers and viewers innovative writing and video content each day. Above all, always be true to our mission statement: Explore all aspects of olfaction through an artistic lens.

The feature photo is Michelyn at Exsence 2019, holding DSH Perfumes Colorado by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (which went on to win an art and olfaction award ) photo credit Jeffrey Paul.

Stephan Matthews has worked with many perfume companies as an industry consultant and copywriter. He has also written articles for The Perfume Society and Sacrebleu!, as well as reviewing for stephanmatthews.com.

What question do you get asked most often?

“My fragrance has been discontinued. How can I find it?” I get at least ten emails a week asking this question and my answer has changed over the years. I used to offer advice on which auction sites to look at, or potential replacements, but now my response is a little more direct. MOVE ON! We all form attachments to scent but it’s inevitable that fragrances will be discontinued or reformulation. So, if your favourite disappears then there are thousands out there waiting to be discovered.

What’s your first scent memory?

My earliest recollections of scent all involve household cleaning products or medicine. I was a child of the seventies and so the smells of Dettol and Jeyes Fluid were part of my everyday life, because my mother was always incredibly house-proud, but one scent featured more heavily than others. There was a medical gauze dressing called Jelonet which was made by T J Smith & Nephew. I was always cutting my leg or grazing my arm, so this medicinal yellow paraffin concoction that was housed in a thin metal tin was always being applied to one of my limbs!

What was the first fragrance you bought?

I was a Lynx boy for most of my adolescence, and am still a loyal fan, but the first fragrance that I bought was Fragonard’s Belle de Nuit. It was my first visit to Grasse and is always the moment that I feel started my interest in the perfume industry. The fragrance is such a beautiful floral creation and I loved wearing it. On the same day I bought Molinard’s Habanita and Galimard’s Yavana, but it just happened that Fragonard was the first perfumery that I visited.

How did you discover us?

I was in Paris with work and Le Jardin Retrouvé had literally just relaunched. Time was very tight for me but Michel and Theo managed to meet at the end of the day. I immediately fell in love with the history and the scents, and ended up helping them in their first year with some campaigns as well as the UK launch in conjunction with The Perfume Society. It was great to be there at the beginning, and it’s been wonderful to watch the company grow.

Photo by Le Jardin Retrouve

What does fragrance mean to you?

Apart from being the industry that I work in, and so the way that I pay my bills, fragrance is the most wonderful way to make a person feel happy. There is a lot of snobbery around different companies and perfumes, but I always say to people to wear what makes them feel cheerful. Never mind about anybody else… wear it because you like it.

What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?

We need to stop all the nonsense around synthetics and naturals with regard to safety. All fragrance ingredients have to pass strict regulations in the EU and there is no favouritism. Synthetics and naturals work wonderfully together, but they also work equally well on their own, and it’s the skill of the perfumer that creates a great composition.

All photos by Stephan Matthews except where stated

New Zealand born Megan Paki has made her home with her family in the famously picturesque French Riviera. Megan, who writes the blog Meganinsaintemaxime also works behind the scenes for French niche perfume houses in nearby Grasse. We caught up with her to ask her our six nosy questions.

What question do you get asked most often?

“Why do you like fragrance so much” is a question that I get asked quite often especially by friends who knew me before this passion started. Some think it’s a strange passion to have although if you take them through a selection of fragrances and materials and explain some of the history you can see that they start to have some appreciation. It’s nice when you can see a light bulb pop on when the seeds are being sown.

French Riviera coast

The fragrance related question that I’m often asked is very simply what is a great fragrance for a loved one or themselves. Sometimes people are quite specific in terms of their tastes and previous loves, however you need to really understand what sort of smells they enjoy – quickly you can check on marine / sea, outdoors – green, a make up scent, incense, florals, cologne style etc. It’s a good idea to see what perfumes they have loved on themselves and others as well. Then you can start making a few recommendations.

What’s your first scent memory?

Definitely my mother’s Chanel No 5 fragrance that I loved to see her spraying. I adored the bottle as it all seemed so glamorous and grown up and when you are a child you often want to experience some adult life even though it is a far away concept. Apparently when I was young I drank some of it as well!  

Orange blossom photo by Fragrantica

My first scent memory in France that I still appreciate is the smell of the bitter orange blossom.  It is the most heavenly smell and one that I am completely besotted by and as soon as the season begins the scent permeates the air and really lights up the day. I was lucky enough to live for a time in a house that had three of these trees and it is just the most divine smell and I do love when it is captured in a fragrance

What was the first fragrance you bought?

Fragrance at first was a special gift and one of my first was Opium which back in those days was a real heavy hitter, with a potent and evocative spiciness.  In fact it was a beautiful perfume but really too sophisticated for my teenage years.

The first perfume I remember buying with my own money was Trésor by Lancôme. This perfume was absolutely gorgeous and I was completely enamoured by its apricot rose blend. This fragrance really brings me back to those days even though it smells quite different today to my nose.

What does fragrance mean to you?

Megan giving a fragrance talk in Lithuania

Fragrance for me is a means to express a feeling, a moment, a state of being. Perfumes have the ability like music or a great wine to make us feel an emotional connection. Fragrance can be a huge mood enhancer; they can boost you up, chill you out, create a sense of happiness and can help to bring back cherished memories that you want to experience again.

Fragrance is also a way to expand your horizons by smelling materials and fragrances that are different and exciting that have the possibility to transport you to another time and place or to give a moment to pause and reflect.

Scent can also be the exact opposite too, it can simply serve as an accessory to quickly spritz and go. You leave the house and you feel like you are better dressed but you don’t give it too much thought. I think it can be many things to us all but the link to emotions is very strong.

How did you discover Le Jardin Retrouvé?

collage by Sebastien Notre

I’m sure that I discovered Le Jardin Retrouvé via Instagram . I sampled their initial line and fell in love with Citron Boboli. It’s a fragrance that is so much more than a lemon scent and this is from someone who initially didn’t even like citrus fragrances. It has a really interesting spicy aspect to it that errs more to glamour than refreshment. 

The fragrances spell quality and there is something for every perfume lover in the collection. There is a fantastic leather – Cuir de Russie and a very nice rose fragrance called Rose Trocadéro

What do you think the fragrance industry needs in the future?

I think the fragrance industry has really moved in so many directions since I first became interested and now there are many more niche, indie, artisan and lifestyle brands that are doing great things and really helping to extend what we know about fragrance and to give us new creations and inspiration. I think it is good for the consumer as they should be able to find something that gives them pleasure and enjoyment.

The landscape for perfume media has changed dramatically since my hobby started and now there are hundreds of Instagram accounts and YouTubers that suggests that the love is spreading. Personally  I would love to see more documentaries on fragrance that cover every facet of the industry because it touches on so many different elements.

I think that the sense of smell is so very important yet is one that is downplayed. It would be great to see more education for children that helps to build their olfactive capabilities. Also, as they become older to help them understand that there are career opportunities here too.  I think that many working in the industry have ended up there in a roundabout way so it would be nice to see a wider promotion of the various facets that are involved. Most people know that there are perfumers, but beyond this I think understanding is quite limited.

I believe the industry needs more diversity in terms of who works within it. Recently I looked on a company website of one of the big fragrance and flavour houses and there was a photo of master perfumers seated around a table and it was all white males over 45, which seemed the equivalent of a banking boardroom. This is an area that needs to change.