Precious violins owe their physical beauty as much from the wood they are made of as from the varnish that tones it and makes it shine. Before to apply the resinous substance, the wood is impregnated with light citrus oil to prime the grain. Gamboge yellow is powdered then dissolved in ethanol with some benzoin and mastic resins that give the varnish its viscosity and its durability after the dry down. Sandalwood from Calcutta and the Coromandel Coast are the chief coloring ingredients that will turn the instrument towards the various shades of orange and red and its final gloss. All these natural substances contribute to the aesthetic of the violin but also to its hypnotizing scent. When playing the violin, the artist is enjoying the symbiosis of sounds and scents from the instrument, transporting her to a new state of bliss.
Smell and Sound do not seem obviously related at first, but a recent study by a British team of researchers suggest that it is, in fact, the case. These neuroscientists found that fruity smells are consistently associated with high-pitch notes. The sweet and sour Blackberry scent is often matched with the sound of the piano. Musky odors inspire people to visualize brass instruments.
Pierre Guguen, the founder of L’Orchestre Parfum, a new artistic fragrance house from France, understood very well this sensual association between music and perfumes. Musician, marketer in leading cosmetic companies, businessman, Pierre had the perfect background and acumen to create not only a superb line of niche fragrances but also the talent to provide us with a real synesthetic experience, in matching his original scents with short musical pieces from various styles and origins.
I had the chance to ask Pierre about his career path and his creation in the exclusive interview that follows:
Scent & Flavor: L’Orchestre Parfum is a young brand in the ever-widening universe of artistic perfumery. Where can we find your fragrances today and how do you plan to market your brand from now?
We have launched the brand two months ago in high-end and beautiful perfumeries and on our own website lorchestreparfum.com.
We are now present in Paris (Jovoy, Sens Unique), London (Jovoy), Moscow (Aromateka) and Dubaï (Jovoy). Each partnership was born from a common passion for fragrance and a real willingness to bring innovation and quality to this flourishing niche fragrance universe.
I am planning to place the brand in new perfumeries all around the world and also work on new ways of distributing niche artistic perfume but this is a secret for now J
Scent & Flavor: I loved your idea of associating music and fragrance, and your live discovery events were a frank success. How can you help new customers experience this sensory association if they are not able to join your events?
Indeed, this performance was something incredible, people were deeply touched by the authenticity and degree of purity of this olfactive concert. It was amazing to witness this live experience where musicians, designer & perfumers were all mixing their art and savoir-faire to create new emotions.
Nevertheless, it was key for us that the experience could be lived universally anywhere and anytime by the perfume & music lovers. This is why our 5 virtuosos recorded in a studio each song created “sur-measure” for the project. Each composition is now available on our website lorchestreparfum.com and YouTube so that anyone that receive the perfumes can smell and listen to our musical fragrances at the same time at home and in-store.
Scent & Flavor: How did your work experience with PUIG (especially with Comme des Garçons) and L’Oreal inspired you and prepared you for creating L’Orchestre Parfum?
Both experiences taught me how to create new perfumes working together with very different competences. Indeed, I had to work closely with highly creative profiles such as perfumers, artists and designers but also with more marketing/business oriented collaborators. These experiences were highly challenging, thrilling and enriching and gave me the keys for this new “page blanche”.
I would say that L’ORCHESTRE PARFUM was born in my mind many years ago when visiting LE MUSEE DE LA PISCINE in France where I could feel for the first time that perfume could enhance other arts and enrich the artistic experience. Christian Astuguevieille (Fragrance Artistic Director for Comme des Garçons) had asked perfumers to imagine the smell of different masterpieces exposed in the museum, A new approach of art & perfume : from a « monosensory » to « polysensory » artistic experience. This experience changed my perception of art and perfume.
This is why I started mixing perfume and music live with my Barcelona based music band and a perfumer. The reactions of the audience were so positive and strong that I kept on working on these universes’ synergies for the following years.
One day, I felt that it was the right moment to express my love for music and perfume through an innovative and authentic new fragrance brand.
Scent & Flavor: Your fragrances were created by two talented young perfumers: Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel. How did you bring them into your project and how did work together until the launch of your new fragrances?
I love to work with Amélie and Anne-Sophie. They are so creative, optimistic and professional I never have the feeling to really ‘work’ with them, everything feels so easy and spontaneous in this relation.
The starting point of the 5 fragrances are 5 souvenirs of travel where music and perfume were involved. I also wanted to capture for the first time the energy and smell of music, this is why I went to visit the most prestigious ateliers of musical instrument makers in Paris (guitars, violins, trombones) and asked them to describe me their olfactive feeling working with these raw materials (copper, woods etc).
The first time I met the perfumers, I came with my mood images and pieces of raw wood and copper coming from the ateliers I had visited J
I told them about my travel memories and asked them to recreate the real smell of the music instrument mixed with the most beautiful materials of perfume such as Rose, Néroli, Incense etc. I remember asking them for Rose Trombone for example: « let’s enhance the metallic/clean facet of the rose mixing it with the copper » or « imagine you throw some neroli and jasmine in a flamenco guitar, what does it smells like when you put your nose inside the guitar ? ». I wanted something authentic and honest, this is why you can really smell the musical ingredients and place I have been in all perfumes. I already had in mind an idea of what these perfumes would smell, their color, vibration, but they managed to surprise me and add their soul and great savoir-faire to my olfactive and musical souvenirs. There is no taboo between us, I want them to be honest and happy with the fragrances they create. I believe it is how fragrances remain pure and I am convinced that people can feel this authenticity.
It’s amazing to share these souvenirs with perfume and music lovers. I want the people to travel when they close their eyes, smell and listen to our musical fragrances.
For the musical part, I proposed the perfumes to the musicians, told them my souvenir and gave them ‘carte blanche’ to make it a composition. It was amazing, it is a real creative exercise that only a few talented musicians are able to do.
I feel lucky and honored to have met them and to know that they now form a music band.
Scent &Flavor: What kind of advice would you give today to anyone whose dream is also to launch their own fragrance line?
First of all, never do it because you think « it is cool to launch a perfume brand ».
Do it only because you truly love perfume and only when you feel really ready for it and with some experience.
Only do things that don’t exist.
Be passionate and true to yourself.
Never forget you never go anywhere alone.
Scent &Flavor: Is there any specific target customer for L’Orchestre Parfum, or is your brand ready to please anyone in love with artistic perfumery?
I wanted the perfumes to be different from what exists and very open at the time.
A generous, authentic and responsible range of fragrances with high concentrations, highly precious raw materials and 100% French natural beetroot alcohol.
Also, each bottle is manually lacquered by a french artisan near Paris so each of our perfumes is even more unique J
Thank you very much, Pierre. I can now only wish my readers of Scent & Flavor to discover soon your fragrant Quintet: Cuir Kora, Encens Asakusa, Flamenco Neroli, Thé Darbuka and Rose Trombone, either by ordering the sample set or by going straight to the point and choosing the fragrance of their olfactory and acoustical interest.
I tried them all on me and have a preference for Cuir Kora, a very comfortable, smooth and elegant leather with a soft dry-down. Encens Asakusa reminded me of Japan, my second country, with a very powdery heart and a soft musky finish. Flamenco Neroli has some Eau Sauvage character at first but reveals himself as a very modern hesperidian accord with a subtle woody base. Thé Darbouka is my second favorite, not much a tea but rather a superb and intense tobacco to my perception. Rose Trombone is my least favorite, maybe because of its insolence which will, however, please lots of you ladies :-). But, as already said, it is when trying them while listening to the recorded pieces from the website of lorchestreparfum.com that the sensorial experience becomes outstanding. Trying is believing, and adopting!
Pierre, I wish you good luck with L’Orchestre Parfum. Continue to surprise us with your innovative ideas and beautiful creations and see you in some fragrant event somewhere soon.
Dear S&F Readers, I wish you a fragrant and mellow week!