Today at Chemist in the Bottle our virtual guest is Anais Biguine, founder and perfumer of Jardins d’Ecrivains, who despite being a very busy person kindly agreed to answer my questions.
What is your earliest perfume/fragrance memory?
We all have olfactory memories of childhood. It is a sense which develops immediately, in humans as in animals. But if I have to answer about my first olfactory emotion, it is obvious that it is the scent of my mother. This scent so fresh and happy, I also worn it during my children’s births. I can’t separate this fragrance from motherhood. It embodies for me the sweetness and kindness. Fortunately, the scent still exists, and it always causes an emotion in me, I owe it to Eau de Rochas.
Did you always want to be a perfumer? When did you realize you wanted to follow this path?
No, absolutely not, I explored several means of expression in my life, and it is my passion for literature, which naturally led me to the fragrance. I started making candle in 2010 and 2012 for perfumes. I started to get interested in living spaces of writers that led to the desire to develop the olfactory interpretation of the writers, of novels or eros through perfumes personalities.
I assume you’ve undergone a special perfumery training. Can you tell something more about it? Where did you learn about the notes and what do you remember the most from that time?
I’m totally self-taught person! But I create without constraint or complex my perfumes which are intended to describe an atmosphere peculiar to a literare topic. The chances are high that I will be quite unable to create a perfume out of this very specific context.
Is perfume your only profession, or do you have some diplomas in other disciplines?
I am artistic director in the world of beauty for years and also photographer. But today, Jardins D’Écrivains has invaded my life to become my greatest happiness. For each project, I involves myself in a study to capture the soul. It is very exciting to make a parallel between the temperament of a fragrance and its ability to put us in an emotional state, it is precisely here lies a revelation. The scope of these exceptional person who share the genius to deliver us a transgenerational emotions leads me in creation. I am more attached to the absolute values than ephemeral phenomena marketing. Faced wit to nobility of the literature that inspires me I am infinitely humble, my job is to honor by the wake, I learn to live and create through stories, reflections and characters of our dear writers. So when I’m in my haven in Normandy which is so permeated of the nineteenth century and that time flows differently elsewhere, I let my mind wander to the nearest of my literary genius and I hear it whispered in my ear fabulous stories, that, in my turn I can express in olfactory notes which are my words. Photography has the ability to make a product living. It helps tell the story and evoke an atmosphere.
How did you come up with the idea of pairing perfume with literature?
It was when I was visiting the garden of Victor Hugo’s home at Guernsey with my daughters. This moment of grace was so intense, that when I saw this unique place, this blooming garden, I made the link between the olfactory and literature. The whole house is a work of art. His genius is in every room, his total involvement was to create furniture and customization of an unusual style. His exile in Guernsey has given him time to make this place inimitable. The family left the house to the city of Paris, and now it is a museum open in summer.
Why did you name your brand Jardins d’Ecrivains?
The brand is called Jardins D’Écrivains because I am very attached to the habitat, to the way it raises inspiration, conviviality and benevolence. I love houses and gardens, and for many writers, that was very important.
You brought Jardins d’Ecrivains to life in 2012, where did you work earlier?
My first perfume, George was born In 2012. Since then, four more have emerged. The candles were born in 2011. Since January 2011 I continue my work as a photographer.
How do you pick the writer or a literature character that will be an inspiration for the next perfume? Do you follow any specific pattern doing that?
Literature offers an incredible source of inspiration. We are particularly touched by a story at a particular time of our life. Some books deserve to be read every 10 years, we see that we have not the same understanding of it. The 5 perfumes Jardins D’Écrivains involve subjects which follow me for a long time. Each subject is in a different register, but there is a thread since each of them pushed me to study it in detail.
Is there any novel you’re certain that will give you the new ideas for fragrances?
Oh yeah a lot! I have a head that looks like a cabinet of curiosity with multiple small secret drawers. I love the Romantic period of the nineteenth century Sand, Hugo, Wilde, Maupassant and Alfred de Musset is an infinite source of inspiration, but I love literature in all its forms and eras.
Your muse of creation often hides in older books, do you think that modern, contemporary writing is less inspiring?
It is fair to say that the XIX century speaks to me. I love the past, existences fascinate me and it is wonderful to show memory. Nevertheless I recognize the immense talent of some contemporaries, although it is time that puts writers in the Hall of geniuses.
Do you have a favorite perfume you wear? Or a book you like to read one more time once in a while?
My favorite perfume after the neck of my children is surely George. I’m sorry to invoke one of my perfumes but you would understand that it evokes a fabulous adventure. It gives me the impression of being in the bowels of George Sand, to stroll in the field Nohant, to meditate on her grave. Then the expression of the fragrance that embodies all the love I have for her, and what I get from this experience that drives me in my work every day. I read and read again Zweig, Maupassant and Wharton with delectation, they capture so well the human functioning .
What perfume materials are the most pleasant ones to work with for you?
Each note, each species expresses something. This is how we assembles the composition that tells a story. Rhythm, strength, background, skin alchemy. Everything interests me if it serves the story, then it is in the accuracy of the subject. The notes are words they use to compose stories. I’m not more attracted to olfactory family than another, I only care the subtlety and the construction of a perfume. Personally I can wear very different flavors, if there is a feeling in the wake, then I let myself board!
I really liked reading Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe in the past – do you think you could make a perfume with this novel?
You are such a boy! Yes it is a wildly exotic story with very interesting olfactory tracks. I did not read it for a long time, but I promise you, I will bring it in my suitcase for my next trip.
Thank you very much for this interview Anais! It was a pleasure to talk to you via e-mails and learn more about you and your perfume brand. I wish you many wonderful ideas for the future.
[note] I will be mostly absent this weekend and on Monday (it’s the Independence Day of Poland) and I might not aswer the comments, but I will try. A giveaway winner will be announced later.