Superstar perfumer Calice Becker talks about her beautiful career (and more)…

When we learned that Calice Becker – perfumer behind masterpieces like Dior J’adore, Tom Ford Velvet Orchid and countless By Kilian fragrances – was collaborating on the new L’Occitane launch, Terre de Lumière, we sat up and took notice. A sign for sure that this beauty and perfume name, with its roots in Provence, is now taking fragrance Very Seriously Indeed. (Her fellow perfumers on this creation as Shyamala Maisondeau and Nadège Legarlantezec.)
Calice Eurostarred into London for the flower-filled launch, charming us with her easy manner and love for her work. In Terre de Lumière, she contrasts aromatic, fresh lavender, pink pepper and bergamot with sweet elements to create L’Occitane‘s debut gourmand perfume. Ambrette seed and acacia flower are drizzled with honey, with bitter almond taking the edge off the sweetness, and a final flourish of tonka and musk.
Calice happily answered our questions about how she became a perfumer, about how she works and what inspires her – so we’re delighted to share this latest in our series of ‘nose’ interviews with you here…
When did you decide you wanted to be a perfumer?
The heart of my perfume memories begin with my mother. I was four years old, getting out of a bath.  She opened a bottle of eau de Cologne and applied it to me. I was fascinated and curious about the smell.  So I asked her how it was made. She said, ‘It’s made from flowers…’ But I couldn’t see the flowers in the bottle! I couldn’t imagine how the flowers got into the bottle and got out, dispersing this beautiful smell. I was very confused, and I kept asking, and asking her questions.
She said: ‘You will understand it later, when you get older.’ So I give credit to my mother, who helped me find my calling. She told me I should become a perfumer, a ‘nose’, after she recognised how sensitive I was to smell. When I was very little, she realised that I couldn’t recognize people by name but, only by their fragrance.
I would tell her, ‘This person is like that one!’
And she would say, “Oh, no! They have nothing in common!”’
What I meant, and what she understood later, was that they were wearing the same fragrance.
What is your first scent memory?
My scent memories as a child show my curiosity and learning that started with the illusion of flowers inside a bottle. I continue to feel this way today, in my daily life. I’m constantly discovering ways of translating emotions that fit inside a bottle. As perfumers, we have the right resources and knowledge to reconstruct these feelings.
What are your five favourite smells in the world? 
• Lychee.
• Leather and saddlery.
• Lily of the valley.
• Honeysuckle.
• Bergamot.
What’s the worst thing you ever smelled.  (Honestly!)
The smell of hospitals. It is very unpleasant and associated to sadness.
What is the fragrance you wish you’d created?
Dior Diorissimo.
If you could have created a fragrance for a historical figure, who would it be?
Michelle Obama.
What’s the first fragrance you bought?  And the first bought for you…?
The first fragrance I bought for myself was Dürer by Dürer, while the first fragrance someone gave to me was L’Artisan Parfumeur Eau de Pamplemousse.
Do you have a favourite bottle design, from those that have been used for your fragrance creations?
The bottle of Dior J’adore is outstanding, timeless, just beautiful. Otherwise the bottle for Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps is one of my favorites. It is at the same time aesthetically beautiful and highly symbolic.
How many perfumes might you be working on, at one time?
I’m usually working on four to eight perfumes at the same time.
Does your nose ever ‘switch off’?
Yes, it does sometimes! For example when I have a cold or when I’m very tired at the end of day. (But it is more my brain switching off than my nose!)
How long, roughly, does it take you to create a fragrance?
It depends. It usually lasts from three months to a year.
Is creating a fragrance visual’ for you, as well as something that happens in the nose/brain? If so, in what way…? Is a mood-board helpful?
For me, a fragrance is at the same time visual, tactile and auditory. All the senses can help translate the olfactive emotion. A mood-board can be a starting point in a creation, as well as a harmony, or a texture.
What is your best tip for improving a person’s sense of smell?
For me, it is important to learn how to truly appreciate beautiful things. It is like tasting wine or discovering opera. You can like something beautiful at once but the more you develop your taste, the more you can understand what you like about it, the way it makes you feel. It is all about the capacity to feel emotions and share them with others. My advice would be: express and share your olfactive emotions…
L’Occitane Terre de Lumière from £58 for 50ml
Buy it at uk.loccitane.com and their many stores
By Jo Fairley
 

Terre de Lumière – feel the warmth of "the golden hour" as we take a sneak-peek at L'OCCITANE's new fragrance…

Dappled sunlight dipping low, skin still warm, running through corn fields in a crisp, white gown as the sun sets… ah, how the dreary days of January make us yearn for such simple pleasures. Even going outside without a coat and brolly right now would be a luxury! But fear not, for L’OCCITANE have bottled the sunshine from that ethereal, other-worldly time of day often termed “the Golden Hour“, and infused the glow into their new fragrance (to be launched in February): Terre de Lumière
L’OCCITANE say: ‘As the day draws to a close, the sky is set alight, embracing all the shades of gold. Beauty is suspended in time and this stunning spectacle reaches its height. Light infuses the ingredients in this fragrance, enhancing them in a rich, faceted creation that evokes the intense sensoriality of a walk through the fields of Provence at the Golden Hour.’
Sunset
Oh yes, take us there now, please…!
We were lucky enough to be present at the press launch of this perfume, and so excited to discover this will be the very first gourmand fragrance for the brand. We predict gourmand as a genre will be huge news once again in 2017 – the comforting, deliciously food-inspired fragrance family seems only natural to turn to in times of uncertainty – and far from the 90s scent bombs that truly began this trend, gourmand has taken a fresh turn of sophistication and wearability – for men and women alike.
Terre de Lumiere
Top Notes: bergamot, ambrette seed, pink pepper
Heart Notes: lavender, honey
Base Notes: acacia flower, bitter almond essence, tonka bean, white musk
Renowned perfumer Calice Becker was chosen for Terre de Lumière, closely collaborating with Shyamala Maisondieu and Nadège Le Garlantezec; Calice explains how the talented trio worked on the fragrance so that it ‘…plays on the tension between masculine freshness and delicious feminine softness. It’s a very innovative scent, the first gourmand aromatic fragrance from L’OCCITANE, absolutely addictive.’ Talking about the inspiration for composing the scent, Calice describes the Golden Hour as the time ‘…when the light is at its most beautiful. It is also when scents are at their height.’
Perfumers
And so what does it smell like? Well, close your eyes, imagine the setting sun still warm on your skin (move closer to the fire or add another layer of clothing, if necessary!) and let us take you to the glowing fields of Provence…

Aromatically zesty from the first spritz, there’s almost a sigh of delight as the fizz of bergamot and pink pepper suddenly melts into the true heart of honey infused with lavender and balanced by the milky freshness of acacia blossoms, the almond-like nuttiness of tonka beans and the balsamic warmth of the earthier base. Perfectly evoking that moment when the day slips impercitibly to dusk, it’s the sensation of contemplative contentment while sitting on a hay bale, having romped barefoot in flower meadows and paddled in cool streams. Deliciously revivifying and fragrantly soothing all at once, we bet you can’t wait to try it…
…And on that note, we suggest [*wink wink*] that you keep your eyes peeled for an exciting announcement, for you could be one of the first people to Discover Terre de Lumière with us. [*hint hint*]
Written by Suzy Nightingale