Forty-five years ago, in a Paris townhouse that was home to the Gutsatz family, Le Jardin Retrouvé was born, and with it, so was niche perfumery. History was made the day the family business was launched.
When Le Jardin Retrouvé was established on December 12th 1975, no perfumer had ever begun their own perfume house before and no perfumer was recognised by name, except for one or two. All that changed when Yuri Gutsatz, perfumer, poet and perfume critic became the first to break ranks and go it alone.
The story of how Le Jardin Retrouvé came into being reads more like an epic family saga that spans generations, continents, and two World Wars. This is a story that began with a small Jewish boy escaping Bolshevik Russia in 1924 and ends, happily, with his son and daughter in law heading up the Maison de parfum you all know, in modern-day Paris.
Yuri Gutsatz, the boy from St Petersburg, became an adult, and the adult became a perfumer. Back in 1975, the business was a family affair, just as it is now, with everyone helping. Yuri made the fragrances, his wife Arlette was designing and selling, and their three sons helped out where they could.
Yuri added several ancillary bath and beauty products to the line, many years before other brands followed suit. As well as fragrances, there were incense, soaps, bath oils, candles, and even a popular oatmeal scrub. Le Jardin Retrouvé products were sold in Japan, Canada, USA, and Europe. Yuri was a respected figure in the industry and was a founding member and initiator of the world-famous Osmothèque, as well as being a vocal critic of the lack of recognition of perfumers. As recently as in 2020, Master perfumer and Head of Givaudan Perfumery School, Calice Becker, recalled Yuri’s major contribution in the first Perfumer-Creator Charter. In it, she renewed calls for perfumer’s names to be as well known as those of writers and composers.
Yuri Gutsatz passed away at his home in Paris at the age of 91 in 2005. He left behind his devoted wife and three sons. The business carried on with the help of Arlette and one of their sons, Denis, but on 12th December 2012, the very day the business had been launched 37 years ago, Arlette too passed away.
By 2015, the only surviving member of the Gutsatz family was Michel, a University Professor of Marketing who, along with his wife Clara, an artist and writer, faced a challenge. They could continue with their respective careers and watch Yuri’s work die out, or they could revive the business and keep his legacy alive. To the delight of perfume fans, they chose the latter.
Today Michel and Clara head up a small team in a pretty Paris courtyard where Yuri’s fragrances are made exactly as he intended from his original hand-written formulas. Each one captures a little of his story. Cuir de Russie was Yuri’s memory of his father David, Rose Trocadero was Arlette’s favourite and Sandalwood Sacré is still made with sandalwood from the family he befriended in his Indian years.
Perfumer Maxence Moutte recreates Yuri’s timeless perfumes in our on-site lab and our customers enjoy classic French Haute Parfumerie once again. The late Arlette, a stylist and consultant, has her contribution recognised too. The tree in the Experience Room in the Paris flagship store has been created from her vintage textile collection, as are the little fabric pouches the Discovery Sets are presented in.
From France, Le Jardin Retrouvé fragrances are sold around the world and can be found in China and the USA, in the Paris Experience Store in Paris, and on the website. With tens of thousands of followers on Social Media, fans from many corners of the world, as well as influencers, have written passionately about the perfumes of Yuri Gutsatz. The Le Jardin Retrouvé fragrances have been featured in GQ France, ELLE, Vogue, Paris Select, Au Parfum, Nez, Glass Magazine, as well as on multi award-winning perfume website ÇaFleureBon, to name but a few.
Yuri’s spiritual legacy is alive and well
In 2020, though Le Jardin Retrouvé adheres to tradition when it comes to making perfume, they have a few modern additions, such as a sustainable ethos with a focus on recycling, up-cycling, and reusing. This applies to packaging, refillable bottles, and reusable candle pots. They also have established a very strong online community with a co-creation approach and instant communication all over the world with perfume lovers old and new.
Today, the Osmothèque is a much-visited place for perfume pilgrims and lovers.
The niche fragrance industry is booming, and perfumers are now recognised and celebrated for their talent, and no longer hidden away. Who knows what would have happened without Yuri’s contribution?
And all because of a perfumer who came from St Petersburg.
Happy birthday Le Jardin Retrouvé and happy birthday to the niche perfumery movement!