A sense of scent
One of the best compliments you can give a woman is that a scent is so her. We sit with Anne-Lise Cremona, CEO of bespoke perfume house Henry Jacques as she tells us how perfumery is a real art and why not to follow trends
You were born into perfumery. What was the first perfume you received as a gift, which became your signature scent?
My first love, which has now become my perfume of choice, is ‘Janice’ – it’s very warm and very French. The second is called ‘Datcha’; my mother wore it for a very long time. Again, I have a special version of this incredible perfume, with a bouquet that I adore to make it more personal. My mother also offered me a composition of roses when I was very young, called ‘Rose Suprème’. I like to wear this by itself, but also to add it on top of other perfumes.
What smells do you love?
My tastes vary according to the seasons and my daily style. Just like my wardrobe, I change my perfumes instinctively. I love perfume that represents French elegance but this cannot be narrowed down to a single olfactive family. In summer, I wear colognes based on citrus and natural woods. In winter, I love complex and very feminine blends, like the two perfumes I’ve already mentioned. What counts for me above all, is for the perfume to be ‘noble’ and define my personality without being imposed on others. I also love more than anything else to apply a few drops of perfumes before going to sleep. A home without perfume cannot be refined.
Was there ever a time where you perhaps weren’t going to follow the family fold into perfumery?
Like many, I have not always wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps, even though I have a profound respect for the incredible work they have accomplished – it humbles me. I took my own path, but life always brought me back to perfumery. I spent eight years of my career with important international groups. I had not planned to join Henry Jacques but could not accept that the work of my parents could be compromised and lost. I feel that today Henry Jacques is part of me and resembles me in some ways, I am very proud of this.
What distinguishes Henry Jacques from other perfume brands. What gives it its haute status?
Henry Jacques is an absolutely unique perfume house. It is deeply rooted in the French tradition and know-how of great perfumery but is also ground-breaking and visionary on many levels. We simply move against the flow of today’s mass perfumery. This is also why we only offer our perfumes in our own boutiques, so as to ensure a truthful, intimate and contemplative experience with every client.
What are the key notes in a signature Henry Jacques perfume?
Many of our loyal clients say they can easily recognise a Henry Jacques perfume. Our perfumes leave a characteristic trail behind them. We create our perfumes like a grand master’s paintings, with multiple layers. They are not flat perfumes, following definite trends, they are perfumes leaving long-lasting impressions on memories. We have created a few ‘bouquets’ from our most beautiful components that we like to sign our fragrance with. In my eyes, perfume is a real art.
Are Henry Jacques perfumes subtle or do they linger and waft all day?
Today’s trend is creating perfumes that last for 24 or even 48 hours. For this purpose, synthetic fixators are usually the only solution. Making a perfume last is not a priority for us. Saying this, they often last very well thanks to high quality natural components. We also use natural fixators used in French perfumery that add a warm note to the fragrance. I also value this idea of applying perfume at different moments during the day. Our Classiques collection has been created with that notion in mind, with travel sizes. There is nothing more chic and mysterious than applying more perfume after a lunch for example; it is like entering your cocoon, and the gesture is extremely elegant and sensual to see.
How do you do your research when creating a new perfume?
As a bespoke perfume house first, most of our perfumes were created to fulfil the olfactory dreams of a client. In such cases, the greater field of research is to understand the personality of the client, their history, their loves and longings. Then, of course, comes our knowledge in rare and delicate natural components. Our laboratory is filled with over 1,200 components. This in itself is the result of decades of research – when we create a new perfume, it is through delving into these shelves that most of the creative process is done. Finally, there is an element of instinct involved. It comes from culture, experience and does not necessarily answer to any rules. My children also have this instinct. It is like your nose replacing the eye.
What do you feel is the universal scent of the last couple of years?
It is true that the perfume world loves to pinpoint iconic perfumes and institute trends. I personally do not see perfume that way at all. Perfume is the most intimate adornment, it is so personal, and, in my eyes, global trends should have no influence on what you wear. I strongly believe that you should wear a perfume according to your mood.
What would be the ideal Henry Jacques gift to give someone over the festive period?
We have recently launched a project, whereby after having a consultation, you will go home with your Henry Jacques perfume. There is nothing better than offering a treat to someone to feel taken care of. This person will spend an hour or more in our intimate salon and discover new emotions, tastes and desires as they travel through our beautiful collections of essences. At the end, they will be able to choose one perfume which will be gifted. I really wanted to make this possible as I would have loved to be gifted such a special experience.