Today at Chemist in the Bottle Cafe our virtual guest is Céline Verleure. You most likely know her for being a creative force behind Olfactive Studio, a niche perfume line she established in 2011. We met at Esxence this year and I’m happy she agreed for an interview after the fair. Enjoy reading!
I know that you’ve been working in a perfume industry for many years and that you created a blog about perfumes that were yet to be made, but I wanted to know if there was any specific event in your life that made you realize you actually wanted to create your own perfume brand?
I think it is the best achievement for someone to create its own brand! It was not possible 20 years ago when only fashion brands with big advertising budgets were successful… But Social media & Bloggers made it possible to build brand awareness throughout the world. Feeling free to create depending on one’s own taste as an Artistic Director between photographers and perfumers is also very enjoyable! It is so much fun that I hardly feel like working…
How did you come up with the idea of pairing photography with perfume?
I wanted to work with the perfumers in a different way (from my previous experience at Kenzo), and I am more keen of images than words to brief them. I also think that most advertising photographies for perfumes are boring as they all have the same themes and stars. I prefer Artistic Photograhy, which is enigmatic and full of emotions.
What was it like at the beginning, when you had an idea for a brand in your head but there were no perfumes yet in your line? What do you have to do before the debut, before the launch of a new brand?
The most important before launching is to find the right concept, strong enough to be a long term inspiration, easy to explain and be understood by the public, and of course very appealing!
You’ve said a couple of times that for each perfume you want to work with different perfumer and different photographer, so that each fragrance is unique. Do you have any criteria you use when deciding who to work with?
As per the photographers, I choose more a photography than a photographer. I visit most of photographies exhibitions in Paris and while travelling and capture the photographies which I have a crush on and which “smell” the most.
The picture is the first step for Olfactive Studio, is there any way you guide the photographer, so that the photo taken is exactly as you imagined it to be?
I prefer to choose existing pictures that have been exhibited in galleries than to do shootings, even if it may happen if I don’t find the right picture.
A photography serves as an inspiration for a perfumer. Do you give perfumers collaborating with Olfactive Studio a free hand in composing scents or is it more that you actively participate in this process?
I participate in the creation process mostly in the second part of the development when we balance all ingredients (I usually have more than 20 versions of the fragrance until the final version), but I give free hand to the perfumer to find the right first mix using the emotions of the photography as sole inspiration.
Let’s talk about the new fragrance, Ombre Indigo. Please tell me more about the concept you had for this particular creation.
I fell in love with this picture which I discovered in a photography international newsletter one year ago. He is a brazilian guy walking in a river at the sunset. I liked the colors, the theme, the relaxing emotion… Then I convinced Gustavo Pellizzon, the brazilian photographer to participate to the artistic project to create a fragrance inspired by his photo.
I have to admit that I love the photography that goes with Ombre Indigo. The light, darkness – the effect of chiaroscuro. This picture is much different from the previous ones in terms of colors and their intensity. What did you and Gustavo Pellizzon (photographer) wanted to tell with this shot?
Extract of the press kit: „Brazilian photographer Gustavo Pellizzon brings out the beauty of shadows; his image is a tribute to grace. This serene, relaxed man seems to have waltzed with the sun. He carried on his shoulders the firepower of stars and now surrenders to the indigo wave that brings the gentleness of sunset.” The picture chosen for Ombre Indigo is part of the “Encanto” (enchantment) series of pictures exhibited in Brazil and Europe. It is inspired by Brazilian myths and legends and the fruit of years of photographic essays on Brazilian rivers and lakes. Each character is an aquatic and magical being. Each scene, shot with the participation of local populations, is the result of chance.
The photography is bold and so is the new perfume. And I’m not only talking about the intensive navy blue color but also about the aroma it has. What was it like to work with Mylene Alran?
It was nice to work with her, being young, she has less boundaries, she dares! I wanted a smokey fragrance for this shadow picture and she came up with a Tuberose/Maltol accord which we pushed together to more smokes and resins. The results is so original…
What is your personal take on Ombre Indigo. What is this perfume about, or what it’s not about? What is your idea of a perfect wearer of this fragrance?
I had this idea of shadows and the strong colors of spices (like saffran), she brought all other ideas…
Final question. Do you already begin to think of a brand new concept and inspiration for the 7th composition?
Yes, I am working on 3 different projects for 2015/2016 and will see which one will be ready first, probably a green-resins fragrance with an exotic picture…
It all sounds good to me! Thank you so much Celine for answering the questions and I’m looking forward to seeing what future brings for Olfactive Studio. My review of Ombre Indigo will appear shortly, so stay tuned if you’re curious about this scent.
[note] The photo shows Celine Verleure and me at Esxence 2014 in Milan. All rights reserved.