By Allison O'Rourke
L’Artisan Parfumeur, the eponymous French fragrance house has been producing stellar scents since the 1970s. Growing up in Grasse, France Francois Duquesne, President of L’Artisan, is no stranger to art and beauty of smell. The passionate ambassador of scent was kind enough to sit down with us and give us a peak into what makes L’Artisan and their perfumers really tick.
I asked Francois what the L’Artisan philosophy was and he had this to say, “At L’Artisan, we create from our guts, we feel very close to our scents. We are extremely creative. L’Artisan was born in the 1970s to say hey wake up, the creation of a perfume should be creative, not a marketing invention. We give our perfumers artistic license. Working with perfumers is like working with artists or even writers at a publishing company. We can even be seen as a record label that promotes different artists, young artists whose creations are innovative. For example, there is one perfumer that likes to travel to Timbuktu in Africa and she wanted to capture that scent. It was never done before. She wanted to create the atmosphere of women perfuming themselves in that area of the world. So we let her embark on that project because it was a totally creative project.”
BN: What is the L’Artisan customer like?
FD: The L’Artisan customer is someone who is looking for something more personal, a story that they can identify with, a connection.
BN: What are your views on the fragrance industry of today?
FD: I believe that the market is shifting in two directions, one way in which perfume is becoming a commodity. Creating a scent that sells takes priority and covering large advertising campaigns. Then there are the people who are creating perfume for the art of creating perfume.
BN: What is the first step in choosing a signature scent?
FD: The choice of choosing a perfume is very personal. Very personal, you want to have something that hits you in a personal way. The first step is to know yourself. What do I really want for me personally? What do I really like? It’s about knowing yourself. It’s the same approach as choosing a fashion piece, you want to reveal your true own personality, with the choice of your perfume. At the end of the day, it’s your own personal style.BN: How does one take a chance, when they’ve been wearing the same type of fragrance for years?
FD: Sure, it’s like someone in fashion trying new things. What triggers you curiosity? Smell lots of different things. Educate your nose. Wear a different dress or shoes, see how it feels.
BN: Should they pick just one or use several scents depending on their moods?
FD: Definitely. Use different scents depending on your moods. You must be able to convey your mood with perfume. I consider it something that can express your mood. In the evening, if you want to be seductive, choose a sultry scent. If it’s a day out, then go with something more fresh and appropriate.
BN: Can you talk about how scent triggers certain emotions and feelings in our brains?
FD: Everything is very personal. My grandmother use to wear a certain fragrance from the 1920s. Now, when I smell it, I think of her. The connection with her is one of very happy memories for me. My first love wore Fiji, which was a classic scent in the 70s. When I smell it, the memories of my first love appear.
A smell triggers different memories and emotions. Remembering my grandmother, makes my happy but for someone who might have had a bad experience, then scent might trigger unpleasant memories or emotions. That’s why it’s so complex, you can’t say it smells good or bad, for sure, it depends on the memories it triggers. Scent is difficult to classify.
Everybody needs to be conscious that perfume will trigger emotions and feelings. That has been scientifically proven. The part of your brain triggers that just like a song can take you back to a place or memory.
BN: Why do fragrances smell different on different people and how can someone feel comfortable trying something new?
FD: Trying new things can be scary, especially fragrance, it can take you to places that you were not expecting. It’s very powerful. It has do with people’s body chemistry and the quality of the fragrance, the more natural ingredients the perfume has, the more it evolves differently on certain people.
A perfume ages just like a good leather bag. If you live in a wet, humid area, the color of the bag will change, and in a dry area the bag will crack.
Just like a leather bag, a fragrance will take on the lifestyle of the person who wears it. The second part of that is that people smell differently and give off their own scents.
BN: What should your scent say about you?
FD: It should say a lot about you. Your personality is revealed here.
And if you tend to wear the same perfume all the time, that should say something consistent about you. I personally like to jump around, and at the moment my favorite scent is right now is Fou d’Absinthe. I’m wearing it today.
BN: How do you wear perfume during the winter season? Which materials and ingredients tend to lend themselves to this season?
FD: It’s not about the temperature. I wouldn’t say specifically this one is for winter or this is for summer. Scents are more warm or fresh, like fresh citrus notes or verbena notes, mandarin, and orange. Warm scents would have ingredients like amber, patchouli, these can also be triggers for the season.
BN: When applying fragrance, is it better to spritz it all over you, or dab just at your pulse points?
FD: I like to personally dab it on my pulse points- arms, and wrists. On a woman, I love scent sprayed in the hair, it allows the aroma to waft and be left behind. Never apply fragrance on your skin when you are about to go out into the sun. Apply it on a hot place on your body, like your wrists or your neck and the warmth will diffuse the scent more effectively.
BN: Lastly, how can you tell when you’ve found the right fragrance?
FD: I would say when you receive a compliment from someone else. For me that is the ultimate confirmation that you’ve found the right scent. When someone says you smell great it means that you’ve found the right fragrance for you. It’s a wonderful feeling.
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