The Perfume Society caught up with Camille Goutal and perfumer Isabelle Doyen in London the other day for the launch of Les Absolus d’Annick Goutal: a new, rich, sexy direction for this fragrance house, which was founded by her mother Annick.
There are three smouldering scents in the collection. If you’re a fan of vanilla, check out Vanille Charnelle: incredibly creamy and feminine, with a ‘second skin’ sexiness. Tonka bean and white musk accent its soft sweetness, with touches of ylang-ylang. This is cosy, cosy, cosy.
We’re seeing a lot of amber right now, and Ambre Sauvage is a sublime interpretation of that ingredient, which Camille describes as ‘one of the most carnal accords in perfumery…’ Here, find it layered with pink peppercorns and lavender, adding cool touches, before almost suede-like iris and vanilla tiptoe in. In the base, there are dark woods and resinous styrax, and plenty of patchouli.
Oudh is an ingredient which Annick Goutal herself first flirted with a few decades ago, before deciding it was too unfamiliar for those of us in the West to appreciate. Now oudh has become almost ubiquitous – but Annick Goutal 1001 Ouds is executed with a deft, light touch – not over-oudh-y, at all. It’s fused with guaiac wood, birch, has a peppery warmth – a truly modern Ambrée which could be a ‘baby-steps’ oudh for anyone just discovering that ingredient.
After trying the fragrances, over a very English tea and scones, we asked Camille Goutal for her five favourite scents and she pretty-pleased: ‘Could I have six…?’ Seemed churlish to refuse, so here goes.
1. Stone, in summer. Stone doesn’t usually smell, but when there’s a storm and it dries I love the wonderful mineral scent it gives off – it reminds me of my grandfather’s house in the south of France. I used to go every other year and have such happy memories of it.
2. Leather. Especially the smell of my horse’s saddle. She’s called Taina – it means gardenia, in Tahitian; she’s a black gardenia. I polish my own saddle and I love the scent of the oils and the beeswax – and when smell leather, I miss my horse instantly, crazily. I need to see a horse when I smell leather!
3. My daughters’ necks. They are 13 and 16 and of course they smell slightly different now they’re teenagers, but there’s something in the smell of the neck that never changes – and they don’t have the same smell. Of course, they wear fragrance now, too – they’re very proud that Annick Goutal is their grandmother…
4. Tiaré flower. This white flower makes me travel instantly to Tahiti. I think each perfumer has their own obsession and mine is tiaré; I always come back to it and in a lot of my formulas, it’s there somewhere… I’ve travelled there with Isabelle several times and I took my daughters to Tahiti for the first time a couple of months ago, which was wonderful.
5. Toasted bread in the morning. When I smell it, I think ‘family’. When we were in my grandfather’s house we’d always wake up to the smell of toasted bread. I don’t usually eat breakfast but I like having breakfast when I’m on holiday with my boyfriend: butter, cheese, jam, everything…
6. My cat’s fur. It’s sort of the same thing: cocooning, family… There’s something very special about the smell of a cat’s fur: it’s hard to describe but when she puts her head against yours, it’s so comforting. Mine’s a British short-haired called Merlin; we adopted him three years ago when nobody wanted him. He wouldn’t go near anyone when we got him, but now he’s like a dog: he follow everyone everywhere…
Les Absolus d’Annick Goutal £166 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy them in-store only (for now) at Harrods (selected retailers nationwide from October)