master parfumier conjures emotion through fragrance
Gazing up at the hills of Grasse in Provence 1:1 replica handbags , I start humming a favourite song of fake louis bag my godmother’s, made famous in the late 1950s by a certain Andr Bourvil:Salade de fruits, jolie, jolie, jolie. Tu plais mon pre, tu plais ma mre. The houses above me are made of apricot, peach, pineapple, melon and burnt orange coloured stone. It’s a sort of Disney perfection. Perhaps the prettiest building of all is Les Fontaines Parfumes, the 17th century house that Louis Vuitton bought in 2013 for itsmatre parfumeur, Grasse born Jacques Cavallier Belletrud.
It is a deeper colour, somewhere between old rose and terracotta dolabuy , and has 12 long windows in four rows with green shutters. It gives on to gardens where camellias, dark irises and clementines grow now, but in a few months exceptional jasmine, orange flower, roses and delicate tuberoses will begin to appear.
Legend has it that young women were locked up during the tuberose harvest in days of yore as smelling the flowers would make them ‘go mad’ with boys. (Legend is oddly silent on the matter of why the boys were not locked up.)
The young Jacques used to pass this place on his way to school every day with his parfumier father, trying to imagine what was happening inside. Renovated by Louis Vuitton, the building now houses a studio for Cavallier Belletrud as its chief ‘nose’, as well as a state of the art laboratory on the top replica designer handbags floor, where beautiful fake designer bags men and women in white coats do preparatory and technical work.
The parfumier greets us in the squarish flagstoned hall in a black suit, black sateen shirt and white leather Vuitton trainers. Round his neck is a huge flamboyantly coloured scarf, a reminder that although he is a poet of perfume, serious and romantic, he has a playful side.
This is a man who might blend a scent for himself just for one night to match the themes of the opera he is attending; a man who delights in giving his wife a new ‘invention’ to wear to the supermarket to see if it garners compliments.
We have met before, when I gathered my courage and told him my favourite smell as a child was when my mother did a pee after drinking instant coffee, and he nodded with understanding. Memories are meat and drink to this man, whose life’s work is to dig deep into his recollections to find things that connect with yours.
Cavallier Belletrud’s conversation is packed with references from his library of memories: picking jasmine with his father at five in the morning when he was an infant; hot chocolate with his mother, feeling happy and safe; the aroma of Nice nightclubs when he was 15; the excitement of punk in Amsterdam as a young man.
In his office on the first floor there is a framed photograph of his father creating perfume in his own studio in the 1950s. Suave with matinee idol looks, he resembles a hero in a Jean Renoir film.
Cavallier Belletrud’s daughter Camille pops in to say hello, wearing chunky Vuitton ankle boots appliqud with badges and patches. He is training her in the family profession (his grandfather, too, was a parfumier). The white coat Camille wears 1:1 replica handbags over her black clothes has a chic half belt. Of course it does.
We speak of his new perfume for Louis Vuitton, Heures d’Absence, launching this month. Heures d’Absence was the first fragrance created by the maison, in 1927 aaa replica designer handbags , and named after Georges Vuitton’s villa. That scent is lost now, and Jacques was given the freedom to make something entirely new.
I was uncertain initially about the name. I see absence as a painful thing, I say. The sense of someone or something important being missing, the ache of longing peppered with recriminations.
I high quality replica handbags china don’t quite add that it’s hard to see poetry in absence if you have ever sat willing the telephone to ring (or ping), waiting with the fooling no one pretence that you don’t really mind because high quality designer replica handbags you have millions of better things, better offers, queues of people actually, right down the street. Despite the fact that your kitchen may resemble a scene from an Anita Brookner novel with a triangle of toast curling its lip at you, and even the cups and saucers looking a bit sardonic because they have each other.
Cavallier Belletrud shakes his head, but he is courteous, tender and calm. “For me there is nothing negative about this kind replica louis vuitton of absence.”Rather, he wanted to capture that sense of, “I love you so much, but I have your perfume until you return.”
This scent is composed of only flowers; it is “gracious, smiling and intense with a lot replica louis vuitton bags of allure”. He talks Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags about the way a perfume can create replica louis vuitton bags from china or enhance desire.
“It’s the idea of leaving a trace of yourself to be missed, perhaps replica louis vuitton bags the best of yourself, as well as a perfume that speaks of missing others and of happy anticipation and hope.”He wants to “address directly women’s inner beings”.
He introduces the new fragrance, his daughter on hand like a magician’s assistant, presenting me with slips of blotting paper bearing the individual notes so I can make believe I am building it myself. It is a theatrical experience, his low voice soft and mesmerising.
First, we smell the mimosa absolute, hailing from the mountains next to Nice, which will be a riot of yellow when the season begins in a week or two. Mimosa forms ‘the natural heart’ of the perfume, fresh and powdery, its delicate almost honeyed aspect blending with the green of the stems.
This mimosa is extracted in Grasse, I am told, and then you must wait a year, for its aroma is too green at first and it takes time for the ‘floralcy’ to appear. It is a ‘scent of great volatility’, and a method of extraction using CO2 is employed that is exclusive to Louis Vuitton, ensuring very little of the complex character of the flower is lost.
Next, we have the famous Grasse rose a peppery, slightly animal smelling flower, that comes in shades from pink to red, with huge heads bearing 60 100 petals. Roses are almost a second skin to Cavallier Belletrud, whose mother applied rose water to his face throughout his childhood. He compares the Grasse rose to femininity because of its strength and multifaceted character.
Then we have Grasse jasmine, strong with spice and fruit. There are surprising strawberry notes. “For one kilo of flowers you need 10, 000 12,000 separate blooms,”he says. “To produce one kilo of extract you need eight million flowers.”It’s the best maths I’ve ever heard.
“Here in Grasse we breathe, we live, we sleep perfume,”he enthuses. “It is difficult not to be inspired. We are waiting now for the mimosa, then the violets will come, then the orange flower.”
I wonder out loud if Heures d’Absence links directly with the part of him that is always longing for the flowers he adores to be in bloom again? He nods.
Finally, I smell Heures d’Absence and think not for one second of the pain of missing others, but only of joyful reunions and of others fondly missing me.