Fragrance-lovers instinctively understand perfume’s feel-good factor: its power to nudge us out of a bad mood, make us feel romantic, or give a sense of colour to a grey day. But Valeur Absolue – created by Geneva-based Benedicte Foucart – takes that one stage further. Imagine fragrances infused with ingredients known to soothe, to nurture, or to inspire passion. Imagine gemstones, not only creating something beautiful to look at – but helping to shift energies…
Benedicte Foucart has a long career in fragrance behind her: International Vice President at Elizabeth Arden (where many fragrances were launched, during her tenure), and then perfume house Firmenich, where she worked directly with perfumers as head of global marketing. Valeur Absolue was actually inspired by a consumer study of 10,000 women in the USA and Europe, which revealed ‘the growing dissatisfaction among women concerning the current offerings in the fragrance market,’ observes Benedicte. The women questioned still loved perfume, yes – but were tired of ‘me-too’ fragrances and wanted something more, something different.
So Valeur Absolue set out to add an extra dimension to fragrance. And as Benedicte puts it, ‘Our products are “more” than perfumes; above all, perfumes that smell absolutely delicious, but they are also real wellbeing elixirs which offer real benefits to women. They are enriched with active natural ingredients, renowned for their beneficial properties and inspired by aromachology, mineral therapy and neuro-cosmetics.’
So for instance, Areumat perpetua, which features in all the blends, is a natural extract of immortelle flower, linked to the release in the body of feel-good beta endorphins.) The ultimate vision Benedicte had for Valeur Absolue was ‘to bring fine fragrance and wellbeing back together,’ returning to the tradition of the 17th Century roots of fine perfumery, and the time when perfume had a health- or mood-enhancing powers. (But there’s an added bonus: the crystals or tiny pearls in each bottle have a sort of ‘snowglobe’ charm, which for us takes us right back to childhood.)
For Benedicte, this was very much the fragrance collection she was searching for herself. ‘I am myself a mother of three children,’ she says, ‘married to an entrepreneur and with an endless list of dreams to realise. I therefore know how difficult it is to juggle everything, constantly being pulled in all directions.’
Benedicte chose to work with Firmenich, the fragrance house she knew well. And as their Fragrance Development Director Marie-Aude Bluche, explains: ‘Rather than being inspired by fashion or image, as so many fragrances are, Valeur Absolue wanted to offer people a true and authentic experience that would translate into beautiful perfumes that are just easy to wear. This meant we intentionally avoided being too intellectual, super-edgy or too trendy.’ It’s clearly worked: in several countries, Valeur Absolue‘s fragrances are right up there on the bestseller charts with some Very Well-Known Names Indeed.
Perfumer Catherine Selig worked on the Harmonie fragrance (and we could certainly do with that in our too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time lives, no?) Fusing ingredients like neroli and Earl Grey tea, vanilla and grounding woody notes, it’s soothing and calming – the scent equivalent of wrapping yourself in a cashmere blanket. And semi-precious amethyst stones rest in the base of this bottle, to shake-before-you-spray…
Pierre Negrin created the Joie-Éclat and Sensualité fragrances: Grasse-born, from perfumery’s epicentre, he’s successfully worked with many renowned fashion designers. And for Joie-Éclat, the vision was ‘something extremely sparkling and fizzy, that’s renewed throughout the day – like a constantly replenished glass of champagne.’ How does a perfumer achieve that? Through uplifting notes like pink grapefruit and green cardamom, to which minerals of potassium and magnesium have been added, and that signature immoretelle extract. And as Joie-Éclat develops on the skin, a beautiful trail develops of musk and vetiver, which linger all day. (The fragrance’s ‘jewel-in-a-bottle’, meanwhile, is sparkling, encapsulated diamond powder…)
And then comes Sensualité: ‘all about super-femininity, super-brightness; we wanted a very luminous sensuality, not a dark one like so many sensual fragrances,’ observes Marie-Aude. ‘So we chose flowers that would reflect the curves of a woman…’ So it takes elements of rose de Mai, white flowers, and blends them with cedar wood, amber and musk. Within this particular flacon, alongside minerals of calcium and potassium, you’ll enjoy mother-of-pearl, adding to that sensual feel.
This different approach to perfumery has clearly struck a chord. As Benedicte explains, ‘We received many testimonials from people who wanted to share with us their discovery and experience of trying a new approach to perfume… Some talked about a “comfort blanket” approach, some of a “wellbeing-scented bubble”, or a “rescue kit in our crazy lives.”‘ And – watch this space – in autumn 2014, Valeur Absolue will launch two more perfumes in two new olfactive families. (To keep up-to-date with Valeur Absolue‘s news, you can also visit their website, below – and don’t miss The Club, offering opportunities and information especially for women who want to join their ‘insiders’.)
Valeur Absolue‘s mission? ‘To bring a smile to those women who are searching for the absolute…’ And bravo, Benedicte: we think it achieves exactly that.