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Why perfumes should be synonymous with Luxury?

 …’Coeur d’Île’ expresses all that the Seychelles islands encompass…

Coeur d’Ile makes you travel to the Indian Ocean islands

As I am about to launch ‘Coeur d’Île‘, the Signature perfume of  the Station Perfumery Seychelles , I wanted to reflect on the reasons why Perfumes seem to have lost their Luxury feel in the last decades.

While preparing Coeur d’Ile, my mind was travelling back to when I was 15 and the Parfum FIDJI and its eternal slogan ‘The woman is an island – Fidji is its perfume‘ was given to me as a gift. My family had then just moved back to Europe after years in the exotic island of New Caledonia;  it was cold and the adjustment to the new life was proving difficult. Fidji became my sunny companion and spraying it in the cold winter mornings was helping me keep warm and happy inside. Its discreet waft of spice and floral notes combined with a powdery and sensual base was making it My Island as a young girl to take refuge to. But above all, its smell was elegant and feminine and this is what makes it such a timeless fragrance.

Perfume should be about Discretion and not imposed on everyone around you. It should only be smelled by those immediately in your vicinity. Unfortunately, modern perfumes with their strong hyper sweet and fruity notes that stick to your clothes like a leech for days – and actually also stick to the cilia in your nostrils, making it impossible to smell anything else for a few days – cannot pretend to be discreet nor intimate.

”Luxury”, from Latin Lux meaning ‘Light’ and later Luxuria meaning ‘deviation’

Luxury is thus an ”indulgence in something refined and sumptuous that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease”. Not the modern days scents that are created with cheap ingredients which in my view do not provide any pleasure, satisfaction and even less ease. This is of course, apart from some niche houses, of course, that are making the efforts to maintain a tradition of  Artistry in their creations.

A Perfume should be a piece of accessory that we treat ourselves with at times. For everyday use, a Cologne or Eau Fraiche should suffice. If consumers start discovering what is behind the creation of a true perfume, the lengthy process the Master perfumer goes through to obtain something that’s right,  they might then want to go about their purchase with a more informed knowledge and appreciation. They might also want to figure out which perfume suits them most and better and create the closest intimacy rather than the largest trail!

Coming back to Fidji, it used to be the Luxury for young girls but in modern days, it is more of a woman’s perfume because of its floral powdery and slightly spicy tone.  When we can get hold of one original one that is! It is normal that tastes change with times but shall we say that in the 1960’s to 80’s, teenagers’ choices were not so much driven by the celebrity trend but rather than the memories of their mother’s perfumes or bags’ satin lining impregnated with those vintage scents. Shall we also not forget the fact that the advent of the use of 100% synthetics as seen in the last 2 decades has actually become a major concern for scent allergies and near-anosmia which is the reason given by regulators to suffocate Perfume Heritage and even ban the use of perfumes.

I feel so nostalgic when I see that people can’t smell with appreciation any longer and that we live in a society with no sense of scent which to me equals to no Soul.

I can only hope that the definition of Luxury returns not to something around possessions and lots of money but rather to indulgence and pampering and then maybe true, Classic perfumes will also make their way back to bring ‘light’ to our lives.

‘Coeur d’Île’ is the signature perfume by Isabelle Gellé at the Station Perfumery in the Seychelles. This simple exotic scent from the Spicy Floral family will transport you to the tropical world where the clove of Zanzibar meets the Bourbon vanilla and the patchouli of the Indian Ocean islands, with at its heart a bouquet of white flowers, symbols of these lush islands, including ylang ylang and jasmine. The top notes are composed of a cocktail of Seychelles island citrus: grapefruit, petitgrain bigarade and lime, all complementing the sweetness of vanilla and the spicy clove.  It is 100% natural and has a lasting power on the skin of up to 6 hours.

It will soon be available for sale online. Please visit for more details.

Categories: AROMAS & SCENTS NEWS, DISCOVERY, HISTORY AND SCENTS, OLFACTORY DEVELOPMENT, SOCIETY | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The smell of the Seychelles, a new journey to the scents…

There is a very particular smell to the Seychelles and it gently teases your nose as soon as you get out of the plane! It is a mixture of smoky, mossy and earthy odour that gives a feeling it exhales from the granite rocks, characteristic from these Paradise islands…

Seychelles beach, granite rocks and forest

But it’s only when I went to visit the one and only distiller on the island that I could figure out what this gorgeous smell was! And it’s all to do with cinnamon, a widely grown spice on this Indian Ocean island…

 Globarom is the one and only distiller in the Seychelles… Mustafa, its owner, welcomed me with a smile even though, like many of his counterparts worldwide, he only manages to scrape a living out of his passion, mainly due to lack of finance and lack of technical support. He explained to me that he has stuck to traditional steam distillation because he believes it is the most natural way to extract the kilos of cinnamon bark in a way that keeps the authenticity of this oil.  As a natural perfumer, I would agree with him… However, the Seychelles, in the global scheme of the botanical world is not placing a lot of focus on the abundance of fine perfumery plants the islands showcase. They have one of the best patchouli in the world which grows widely but it is currently not distilled.

Mustafa also shared with me his difficulty in selling his essential oil of cinnamon bark because the Seychelles type has a high content of cinnamic aldehyde, which to us perfumers is a blessing but to all the rich buying companies being in the West, a full GC/MS certificate is a must and this is costly… Mustafa would like to standardise his production but he is yet to find the $350,000 investment needed to fully develop the 7000 square meters parcel of land he has been allocated by the Government… When he does so, he is planning to develop patchouli and vetiver plantations to extract their essential oils. His crusade is to revive coconut oil extraction and to place the Seychelles patchouli oil back onto the international scene…

Globarom Seychelles 250L steam distiller

Globarom Seychelles 250L steam distiller

…Back to the particular smell of the Seychelles…

I would love to capture this relaxing odour in a bottle because it definitely makes you travel through scents! Once the cinnamon bark has been removed, the trunk is burnt and transformed into charcoal used for smoking fish and for barbecue. This smell is present all around the island and blends with the algae smell of the sea, the granite rocks which are part of the geological pattern of the Seychelles, the rainforest mossy and earthy odours covering those rocks, the mandarin bigarade trees and the mystical takamaka tree (Calophyllum inophyllum), also present all over the Seychelles. All these natural botanicals constitute a genuine perfume in itself! Indeed, the cinnamon tree (Cinnamon Zeylanicum) is grown in small clearings located in the middle of the forest. Once cropped, its trunks are rid off the bark. The inner lining and outer part of the bark is the part that curls up and is rolled to make the cinnamon sticks. The rest of the bark is transported to the distiller who dries it in order to remove its moisture content before proceeding to the steam distillation. 250 kg of bark can yield 7 to 8 liters of essential oil.

During my visit of the distillery, I was served a cup of tea perfumed with cinnamon. I am not a tea drinker but I must confess that this beverage has hooked me… It also made me feel revived and relaxed soon after and despite the 90% humidity rate of the moment! I left with my nose full of the smell of the Seychelles, a smell that has never left my memory ever since my first visit back in 2001.

My perfumer notes for my next creation ‘Weekend in Aldabra‘:

– Takamaka tincture
– Cinnamon bark
– Seychelles vanilla
– Seychelles cinnamon bark
– Sweet fennel – Patchouli
– Coriander
– Ylang ylang
– Lemongrass
– Petitgrain bigarade

Categories: AROMAS & SCENTS NEWS, DISCOVERY, OLFACTORY DEVELOPMENT | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From the vineyards of South Burgundy: when wine and perfume are a marriage of Principles…

This is the view I will enjoy every morning for the next 6 months from the apartment where my partner and I are staying in a small rural village on a hill in the heart of the famous ”Pouilly Fuissé” South Burgundy wine region!

There is a good reason why I am here: it is just inspiring and for me to be able to deliver the accredited Level III perfumery course I have put together, inspiration and quietness were needed… Plus it was just the good opportunity to reconcile with my French roots but above all, to proceed with one of my strong interests: the traditional wine-making process or Terroir wine-making! And I could not find a better place than Pouilly-Fuissé in South Burgundy to look  more into how wine and perfume are a ‘Marriage of Principles‘!

” Terroir”- From the French word ‘terre’ (land)*

The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine ‘Appellation d’origine contrôlée‘ (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe.

Terroir’ is originally a French term in wine, coffee and tea used to denote the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestowed upon particular produce. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.

* Source: Wikipedia

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about  similarities between perfume-making and wine-making and in the short 2 weeks since I have arrived in South Burgundy, I had the chance to meet Roger Saumaize, one of the  most reputed wine makers and growers of white grapes for Burgundy superior quality wine. He is a practitioner in ‘biodynamic wine‘, a holistic and ecological form of agriculture based on a spiritual/practical philosophy, called ‘anthroposophy‘, which includes understanding the ecological, the energetic, and the spiritual in nature.

I prefer calling the likes of Roger, Natural Winegrowers… And like Natural perfumers, their methods which are basically Ancient and Traditional methods going back centuries are controversial. One of the aspects I learnt about the ‘biodynamics’ principle is that the alcohol in the wine is created just by adding sugar in the grapes! After having crushed and pressed the grapes, the mixture is transferred into a drum and sugar is added. During the fermentation process an every other day, the blend is BEATEN UP with a special stick (bâtonnage process) because the stirring of the fine lees (sediments) remaining in the barrel of unfinished wine enriches the wine flavours and gives it this ‘animalic’, ‘earthy’ taste while ensuring that the fruity aromas are equally present. In other terms, this very traditional and painstaking process is the equivalent of stirring your perfume everyday for several weeks, allowing the sediments of natural essential oils to blend and impregnate the scent before you start the decanting process.

I was stunned when Roger showed us blackboards on the barrels in his cellar in which various acidic levels were written including ‘lactic acid’, an acid derived from milk! Who could have known that this could come from grapes! But then Roger explains that it all comes from the way they treat the soil (the Terroir). Because lactic acid comes from a bacteria  and this very bacteria creates the FERMENTATION process! And in biodynamic growing, the focus is not on adding chemical fertilisers but on digging deep in the soil to extract the minerals and bacteria and brings them up to the grapevines who will ‘feed’ and ‘grow’ organically.

 Another similarity between wine and perfume-making is adding ‘new’ on top of ‘old’ where the old takes over the new. In the traditional Art of perfumery, and because the essential oils can be altered year on year by the quality of the crops, we always keep a good percentage of the old recipe from a fragrance and add the new blend on top of it. This mainly allows for consistency in the smell because the ‘old’ blend that has been sitting for much longer will tend to impose itself over the newly added concentrate.

During my visit in the cellar, I learnt that the white wine-makers are faced with a similar ordeal: how to achieve balance and ensure that the wine does not taste too powerful? New wine is added into old wine barrels! It is worth noting here is that the oak-tree wood from the barrel will also exude into the wine and give it its Terroir taste. In traditional perfumery, if you want your perfume to smell woodier or to fix more, one of the method is to let it sit in an oak-tree barrel… This is how a Grand Cru wine can be accomplished. In perfumery, this is how a VINTAGE perfume will be achieved!

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