“Cuir Velours” by Naomi Goodsir : a caress in a leather glove

Two years ago, I visited the niche perfumery Nose in Paris with a client of mine. The team in 20 rue Bachaumont had spared no effort: it took more than an hour of computer-aided diagnosis and suggestions by Nicolas Cloutier and his team (whose extraordinary patience must be emphasized) before I let myself be seduced by a new fragrance. It was the singular “Cuir Velours” (velvety leather) by Naomi Goodsir who won the fight. That was the beginning of a love affair which hasn’t stopped ever since.

First, who is Naomi Goodsir? She is a hat and fashion accessories designer with a dark and eccentric style, Australian-born but living and working in France. She has embarked on the adventure of niche perfumery in 2012. Cuir Velours is part of a collection of three fragrances composed by perfumers whose mission is to work around a specific raw material each time. This one was created by Julien Rasquinet, an independent perfumer trained by the great Pierre Bourdon.

Cuir VeloursAt first glance, one cannot help but notice an affiliation with the world of Serge Lutens: the matte black and beige colours as well as the rectangular bottle filled with an amber liquid are reminiscent of this prestigious precursor. And so does the name – very “Lutensian”, too.

The originality of the packaging lies in its outer sleeve, which seems to come straight out of the food industry: it must be torn at the first opening and then it closes like a bag of shredded cheese! However, the sleeve comes in a satin black finish which does look great. Inside, one finds a black rectangular box, and resting on a bed of black silk paper are the bottle, a screw pump and a card with an ancient-style drawing of a nose on it. The whole packaging is original with an unquestionable good taste, showing a sense of detail and refinement that could be expected from a designer.

Now, the fragrance.

Cuir Velours opens with an accord which is both fruity, floral and leathery: in my book, it has all it takes to be sickening. Yet the result is delicate, seductive and intriguing enough to have me sniffing the blotter as I would do with a glass of Armagnac or smoked whiskey. The blond leather accord feels fluffy and soft, and is beautifully executed.

The fruity facet is rather intriguing. Fruits are generally another word for bad taste in perfumery: they make any composition “heavy” and it takes true mastery from the Perfumer not to fall into the tacky and the vulgar. But here, not a single trace of that: it is a sweet and mild flavour that unfolds in the nose.

Once the fragrance lingers on the skin, we perceive the intriguing Fleur d’Immortelle, used here with a discretion which I think is the only way to go, since its scent is so powerful. The leathery note becomes drier, more bitter, a little bit like the ancient leather note obtained from birch bark as in Cuir de Russie by Chanel (1927). This bitterness is softened by an incense and amber coating, and enhanced with a touch of blond tobacco.

This final smooth leather impression will persist in the wake of Cuir Velours, and will persist again thanks to another quality of this fragrance: it remains on the skin and clothing for hours while never weakening or fading.

Since I began this review by talking about the similarities with Serge Lutens’ perfumes, it is difficult not to compare Cuir Velours with Daim Blond, its ancestor by almost ten years. Naomi Goodsir’s perfume is apparently less nuanced, more “raw” than Daim Blond, but it is precisely the massive use of its main raw material that makes it captivating. After the first impression, this fragrance reveals itself as delicate but not shy, rich and sensual and, above all, incredibly seductive!

Cuir Velours is a beautiful paradox: it is fine and elegant, yet it never goes unnoticed, not for a second! One of those olfactory miracles that niche perfumery is so good at doing.

Hervé Mathieu – Fragrance Forward

Cuir Velours by Naomi Goodsir – eau de parfum 50 ml – 110 euros

Raiders of the lost smell

We all know that the smell of our loved one is the most intoxicating fragrance in the world…

amy-radcliffe-the-madeleine_703580_580Perhaps inspired by this fact, English designer Amy Radcliffe came with the idea of ​​“The Madeleine”. Based on Head Space, a technique that revolutionized the art of perfumery in the 70’s, this device allows anybody to capture and keep any smell they choose.

In order to do this, all they have to do is put the object which smell they want to reproduce under a glass cage and let a specific gas capture it. Then, the capsule that contains the gas is sent to a specialized laboratory that will return the synthesized and immortalized note in a liquid, alcohol-based form.

One can imagine plenty of uses for The Madeleine: calm a baby at night with a blanket impregnated with the smell of his mother, keep the scent of your loved one close to you or capture the smell of a place steeped in history… The possibilities are potentially infinite.

After the 3D printer, there is another advanced technique that is being transferred to the general public. It will certainly have a lesser impact, since the sense of smell is poorly known and considered elusive, but this idea is as pragmatic as it is poetic.

Maybe even perfumers should keep an eye on The Madeleine’s users requests… After all, what moves us is not necessarily universal and new ideas for perfumes may emerge ?

Hervé Mathieu – Fragrance Forward

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/68778690]

The color black, (non) color of luxury

I wish to pay here a humble tribute to the color black – or rather the non-color black, since black is actually the absence of color.

Yet, some can actually see nuances in it. They can see it bluer or browner, colder or warmer… Matisse and Goya, of course, but also printers. Those who actually “do” colors, those who cover paper or canvas using ink or pigments to their maximum density, since it is actually the extreme concentration of a color that mimics the absence of color. Interesting paradox indeed.

artwork_images_476_348542_pierre-soulagesThe idea for this post came after I received a mailing from the French department store Le Printemps. This mailing was an invitation to private sales. And yet, what was just a flyer looked like a genuine privilege – although promotion is, in essence, the very opposite of luxury.

The mailing’s paper was thick. Smooth. It had this kind of velvety feeling that called for being touched and I let indulged myself into the tactile pleasure given by the feeling of a brilliant text on a matt background. And it was black.A deep, sensual black.

After all, maybe those who say that black is not a color are right. Perhaps it is more of a texture.

The other colors, silver and fuchsia, were vibrant. I am always surprised to see how colors stand out on black, how they take a higher intensity, depth and brightness at the same time.

Thanks to a black color, an inspired design and a truly upscale printing, this humble flyer had become something I wanted to keep.

Matt, black and beautiful.

Chic, by all means.

Hervé Mathieu – Fragrance Forward


(Painting by Pierre Soulages)

A praise for weight gain… in glass bottles

I am currently working for a client on the development of a new luxury perfume line to be launched in 2014. At this stage of the project, the main concept has been defined and, among other things, designers were asked to work on a bottle with a significant weight of glass.jour d'hermes

I have always thought that heavy bottles were a beautiful expression of luxury in perfumery. I am not alone in this case, since gaining weight… for glass is a trend, for niche brands like Lalique but also recently for some broadely distributed lines like Lancôme’s La Vie est Belle.

It was with great pleasure that I discovered the ” Jour d’Hermes ” bottle, which is equally made of glass and perfume. The incredible glass weight is what I noticed first, before its shape. The bottle signed by Pierre Hardy seems to have been designed entirely around this massive base.

One might fear that this impressive feature steals the show for the most important thing: the perfume. In fact, the more the glass is present, the more you notice the perfume. The heavy glass bottom is a pedestal for the light gold liquid, and this effect is even stronger when the bottle is simple, sublimating the perfume that seems suspended in glass. Sheer magic.

The new line which I have the pleasure of working on will also have this feature, and I look forward for prototypes, molds and the mouth-blowing of the first pieces. If you read this blog, you know how glass work is fascinating. A mineral but almost alive matter, cold but warm … the perfect content for a great fragrance.

Hervé Mathieu – Fragrance Forward

Flower by Kenzo : what a wonderful ad

The new “Flower by Kenzo” commercial is on air.

Jubilant and shimmering to the eye (ah, the magnificent underwater sequence!), this new ad is the fourth of a perfectly crafted saga that has strongly contributed to the triumph of this line, since Flower by Kenzo is the biggest sales success of this brand, part of the LVMH group.

Kenzo-Flower_by_KenzoThe floral-powdery fragrance signed by Alberto Morillas was against the trends when it was launched, and we can see how the brand has been bright to be bold! With its heart of violet and Bulgarian rose and its smooth bottom notes of opopanax, vanilla and white musk, this fragrance is a model of balance and delicate sensuality.

With the “poppy” bottle, Serge Manseau proved that the weight of years was in no way an obstacle to the lightness of the imagination.

Flower by Kenzo is a textbook example of a perfect coherence between advertising and design as the poppy is the central element of every advertising since the very beginning. Probably a unique case in this industry, generating immediate recognition and an exceptional communication efficiency.

For your pleasure, here are the 4 TV commercials since the line was launched, in 2000. I have a particular fondness for the 2009 one, where Kenzo gave us his vision of Fiddler on the Roof and the 2007 one, inspired by David Lynch and Peter Greenaway.

Hervé Mathieu

Fragrance Forward – Paris, France.


2013 Flower by Kenzo TV ad


2009 Flower by Kenzo TV ad


2007 Flower by Kenzo TV ad


2000 Flower by Kenzo TV ad


A little parmesan with your perfume?

This is a news that perfume purists will find somewhat hard to swallow: Pizza Hut gets a worldwide buzz with… a pizza-scented perfume.

The story began on last August. On their Canadian Facebook page, Pizza Hut asked their fans to imagine the name of a perfume which would have “the smell of a box of Pizza Hut pizza being opened.” The idea got so many “likes” that Grip Limited, the agency that manages the digital communication of the brand, decided to make the tongue-in-cheek subject real: 110 bottles of fragrance meant to evoke « freshly baked, hand-tossed dough » were produced and given to the fans.

The project’s goal was to create a buzz, and by judging its impact in the international press and on the net, this goal has been largely achieved. So much so that Pizza Hut USA gave away 72 bottles of the famous fragrance on Twitter for Valentine’s Day, while Pizza Hut Australia are currently launching their limited edition of « Eau de pizza ».

Pizza-Hut-Eau-de-Pizza-Hut-545x782One can wonder what the olfactory qualities of this creation are. According to Eric Vieira, Grip Limited’s director of digital strategy, “It smells delicious », although he quickly acknowledges that it’s not for everyone. « I hope some poor guy doesn’t give it to his girlfriend », he adds.

A gadget perfume ? Of course. This kind of ideas is not unusual on the North American continent: 4 years ago, Burger King launched Flame by BK and Farginnay, a Chicago company, created a Cologne last year called Bacōn. In Great Britain, Stilton imagined in 2006 a fragrance inspired by the scent of the famous blue cheese – coming in a rather nicely designed bottle !

The eau de pizza is a clever marketing trick. But it also demonstrates the power of an olfactory link between a brand and its customers. For the Pizza Hut fans, the moment when they open the box and that the aroma of pizza spread is a genuine moment of pleasure. Their enthusiasm for this idea reflects the fact that the sense of smell creates strong emotional relationships and enhances the customer’s experience.

The names originally proposed by the fans from “Grease Lightening” to “Yeast Seduction” through “Eau de Pepperoni”. Pizza Hut has finally decided on… Eau de Pizza Hut. Even with such a creative marketing idea, a marketing department is not always inspired.

Hervé Mathieu – Fragrance Forward