Encapsulating the entire essence of a fashion brand within a bottle of perfume is a challenge for any perfumer, but one talented nose Juliette Karagueuzoglo was more than equipped for, working with veteran perfumer Anne Flipo – also her mentor – Coach manages to be both infinitely wearable and flirtily feminine, and we were thrilled to catch up with Juliette for a behind-the-scenes sniff at the creation of a uniquely vibrant, sueded rose…
But where does a perfumer even begin on an important project like building the Coach fragrance? ‘I knew I wanted to start from the rose and the suede.’ Juliette explains, ‘because to me we have this feeling with the colours and materials Coach use, and I wanted to evoke a rose that wasn’t dusty – something more energetic, open, bright, younger and having the right balance with the suede to create a sense of texture and contrast.’
When composing the distinctive smell of “leather”, perfumers must create their own accord, some of the materials being similar to previous leather notes used in fragrances, but for Juliette it’s important to start from scratch each time she needs to create a leather effect.
Explains Juliette, ‘There are so many ways of creating something that smells like leather, you have many materials to express that leather, so it depends entirely what mood you’re going for and what the brief calls for. They might be asking for a “light suede” or a “darker suede” or a more animalic, woody or even metallic leather. So many expressions of the same thing. It’s like a rose. You ask ten perfumers to do a rose and you won’t get the same result twice! But that’s the beauty of it, that’s where the magic is. As a perfumer we get to express our personality and as a client that’s where you get the point of difference.’
Just as in the world of fashion a particular colour or combination is suddenly deemed ‘a thing’ and ‘so now’; in fragrance too this cycle of trends comes and goes – an ingredient or note long out of favour or previously thought of as old-fashioned will rise like a perfumed Phoenix once again. We wondered why there was this sudden resurgence of rose as a note in fragrances, and why younger people are now exploring it now that contemporary perfumers are exploring it in new ways?
Juliette muses, ‘Well a lot of that is technology driven I think, we find new ways of getting the very best from an ingredient, better ways of harvesting, and it makes it fresh and exciting again. There are some rose fragrances that are beautiful but very much of their time. Like YSL’s original Paris. I mean I love it, but that’s not the rose of today and so now it almost smells vintage.’
And what else did Juliette balance against the rose and suede/leather notes for Coach? ‘We used raspberry leaves in the top for freshness and patchouli with soft woods. I think that combination just works, it’s rounded, never obvious, there’s a feeling of sophistication but it’s still fun and youthful.’
Juliette explains that ‘…although there are still preconceptions of what rose smells like in a perfume, I think things have changed dramatically. Rose can be anything you want! It’s all about the balance.’
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Written by Suzy Nightingale