Fashion and fragrance have long been perfumed partners, but the niche French house of Atelier Flou prides itself on being ‘the haute couture of fragrance.’ Using Parisian finesse to craft evocative, luxurious scents, we’ve a hunch you’ll want to wrap yourself in every single one…
Jean-François Cabos is a man who fully understands the weighty implications of linking the phrase ‘haute couture’ to a fragrance house. Having previously been the President of the iconic fashion label Balenciaga, these are not words that pay mere lip service to the centuries-old traditions of painstaking and intricate work that goes into creations that deserve that moniker, created in the ateliers of Paris.
Launching his own fragrance house in 2014, Cabos describes himself as not being a perfumer, as such, because ‘I would rather define myself as a creator, a perfume designer.’ But Atelier Flou ‘…evolved through the idea of eliciting emotions and combining noble, raw materials’ in a way that swathes the skin in the most enticingly sumptuous way. Make no mistake: the name is important – borne from an early compliment when the first samples were finished, when someone testing them commented ‘This is couture!’
Indeed, the link between couture techniques for cutting fabric and the way the Atelier Flou fragrances are composed is another scented symbiosis. ‘Like muslin in haute couture, our fragrances are vaporous trails that we gladly wear for the comfort of the body and soul.’ As Cabos explains, within fashion, ‘The term “couture flou” is suggestive of carefully handcrafted work, artistic craftsmanship, diaphanous textures and free-flowing cuts.’ Used by designers for their toiles, fitted on the body, ‘This draping technique does not aim at moulding fashion to a specific body shape, but rather unfolding an entire universe around a silhouette.’ Which is exactly what Atelier Flou sets out to do, via scent.
We absolutely love the analogy, offering a poetic way of describing how a fragrance shouldn’t dominate the wearer, but rather the very best ones – those that go beyond merely smelling lovely and seem to tap into something in your very soul – as Cabos goes on to elucidate, ‘…worn like an aura.’
Be prepared, therefore, to immerse yourself in a world of extravagance when you spray an Atelier Flou fragrance. The kind of olfactive opulence that swirls around you in a way that never feels over-worked by the master perfumers who collaborated on these scents. And from the moment you set eyes on those intricately carved couture bottles of gold (the most ‘feminine’ of the fragrances) and silver (those more traditionally ‘masculine’) or black (uncompromisingly unisex), you know you’re in for something truly special.
Commanding the senses with their exquisitely honed – and so-Parisian – finesse, Atelier Flou proudly state that they ‘…do not follow trends or fashions, nor strive to astonish or surprise, but simply create for the pleasure of formulating subtle, well-balanced, refined and vibrant harmonies.’
Perhaps you might discover your own perfect harmony in the undulating voluptuousness of Shamsin, the Egyptian jasmine and joyful narcissus woven through velvety Moroccan rose, sprinkled with powdery iris and rippled through with rich seams of patchouli and musk? Or could the contrasting textures of warm amber, Indonesian nutmeg and the cool, aromatic breeze of iced rosemary encircle your senses in the mysteriously celestial (yet reassuringly terrestrial) Black Purple?
Within Sloane Rose, it’s the juxtaposition of incredibly elegant notes such as Scandinavian violet and heady hedonism of jasmine sambac from Chennai – requiring an incredible 7 million flowers for just 1 kilo of rose absolute – that creates a unique interplay of the delicate and daring, seamlessly stitched together with the freshness of orange and the misty softness of ambergris. (Do visit Atelier Flou‘s website, meanwhile, to swoon over beautiful imagery created to evoke these fragrances in illustrated form – above, for Sloane Rose.)
Those seeking something seriously sensual, meanwhile might gravitate toward the touchy-feely qualities of buttery soft leather within Monsieur Mon Amour, meanwhile: trails of Somalian incense stroking the supple leather of the base, while here the jasmine smoulders with guaiac wood – the kind of refinement only usually found in a handmade suit (and totally desirable for either sex, we feel!) And then we have Eau d’Aviateur, a ‘chivalrous aftershave for a man who will go to the ends of the earth for his loved one’, fresh with citrus notes, South American tea and leaving a sillage of sandalwood as it soars…
Whichever masterpiece of fragrant couture you drape your skin with first, we feel sure you’ll want to explore the entire wardrobe of Atelier Flou, bearing in mind – as they put it – that ‘Discovering and wearing these harmonies will bring you pleasure, hour after hour, and day…’ Half the fun is trying them on. But the utter joy that comes from finding your perfect fit, from within the collection? Priceless…