It’s almost as if destiny demanded that Anaïs Biguine should create perfumes.
She comes from a family of book fanatics. She’s been an artistic director, a theatrical agent, worked in marketing, branding and communications – and with a lifelong passion for photography, the combination of these influences ultimately led her to the world of perfumery, where she could utilise all aspects of that knowledge and passion in the Jardins d’Écrivains collection.
Taking her inspiration directly from the pages of the world’s greatest literature and her passion for the stories they tell, each fragrant creation represents founder and self-taught perfumer Anaïs Biguine setting herself the challenge of re-interpreting the work of fiction through the medium of scent alone.
Through ingenious blending and her knowledge not only of the history of literature but for the raw materials she’s working with, Biguine somehow manages to make entire worlds appear with each spritz, invoking resonant sensations for fellow readers of the books themselves or inviting the wearer to create their own interior landscape born of their unique personal memories – described as ‘creations for aesthetes searching for rare perfumes’.
Recalling the very moment she knew her passion for perfume and literature had to be combined, Biguine told fairflair.com: ‘I have always been eager to discover new places. And besides the beautiful things one can see there, what fascinates me is to enter the existence and the sensibility of the people who lived, composed or wrote there.
‘In the summer of 2011,’ she continues, ‘I took my daughters to Victor Hugo’s house in Guernsey – a beautiful place with a very fragrant garden full of flowers. This house is the only one that Victor Hugo ever owned, and it is a true artwork. This is where it clicked in my head: I saw my two girls sitting on a bench in the garden, and I thought it was such a strong thing that I wanted to capture this moment of grace.’
When she got home to Normandy, the idea of creating a candle came to Anaïs (pictured left) – even though she’d never made one and had nothing to do with the world of perfumery. But, she adds, ‘I had kept, more than anything, an olfactory impression of this garden with its blooming lilies. So I called up a lab in Grasse, I had raw materials sent to my home, made a huge list of everything I wanted. I started making mixes, sniffing around and learned how to identify notes the way I identify words…’
From candles, she moved into fragrance. Her first venture into fine perfumery was George (named after the writer George Sand). In this literary garden brought to life, neroli and bergamot are drops of golden sunshine amidst exotic heliotrope, coffee, rich tobacco and a dry-down of whisper-soft white musks and myrrh.
Gigi, meanwhile, was based on the beautiful and mischievous heroine of Colette’s novel – a scent that transports us to Parisian society of 1900, where Gigi seduces by her ‘simplicity, her insouciance and her outspokenness.’ Effervescent white flowers are sprinkled over freshly cut grass, orange blossom entwines with blackcurrant and tuberose glitters enticingly.
No book-lover could ignore Oscar Wilde. So for Jardins d’Écrivains Wilde, Anaïs took inspiration from one of his famous aphorisms encouraging uniqueness: ‘So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be.’ In this decadent blend, seductively plumptious grapes, ripe fig and refreshing tea are provocatively refined.
Virginia Wolfe was the inspiration behind Orlando (named after the androgynous character of the Bloomsbury writer’s epic fantasy), while Christopher Marlowe’s intense theatricality led Anaïs to create a ‘night Cologne’, to be worn by naked lovers. And then there’s Junky, with an intriguing top note of hemp woven through a surprisingly sparkling floral bouquet to the intense, addictive comfort of a powdered, mossy base – a tribute to William Burroughs.
Anaïs Biguine continues to work on other literary-inspired creations, taking the concept of ‘perfume as an art form’ literally and infusing each blend with many years of dedicated research. (You might also like to know that she’s also the creative force behind the courtesan-inspired collection Les Cocottes de Paris, which you can read about here.)
Anaïs Biguine‘s scents don’t simply appeal to those who already love the books they are inspired by or admire the writers, though. These are to be sprayed and enjoyed as a personal reverie. Just perfect for anyone who wants to combine twin passions for sticking our noses in books and perfumes alike…