Last week I stopped by the Guerlain counter at Bloomingdale’s (one of few places I find worth the trek uptown!) to check out their new custom scents. Upon arriving, I learned that this is not just your average beautycounter, it is a full-blown Perfumer Boutique!
Guerlain launched their first Perfumer Boutique in Paris and now they’re bringing the magic to NYC. You start with a digital consultation–which is basically a quiz that will have you smelling multiple scents and answering questions about yourself. Then, you get to design your bottle, monogram it, and fill it with your new custom scent!
While I was at Bloomies, I had the added pleasure of meeting Marie Line Patry, Guerlain’s VP of Education. She sat down and walked me through the olfactory consultation and just by having me pick a few scents, she basically read straight through to my soul. Ultimately, she announced that my scent profile is “overwhelmingly floral, with a hint of woodsiness, and very tender.” I was shocked and amazed at how deeply that felt like a personality reading more than anything. She also gave me chocolate to eat in between sniffing scents, so I loved her immediately. I was so fascinated with the entire custom scent process and Marie Line’s extensive knowledge, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask her a few more questions.
And if you’re looking for a Valentine’s gift for either yourself or a loved one, what could be better than a personalized scent?!
Have you always been drawn to scents? Do you have a specific moment or memory were you decided to pursue this path and do you think you have a heightened sense of smell?
Yes, absolutely, even when I was a little girl. My mom was a great chef when it came to cooking and I’ve always been attracted to scents. For me, smell can make me happy or sad, it takes you back to your memories.
I have always been very good at detecting smells. Thierry Wasser who is a 5th generation Guerlain Perfumer has been a great mentor to me. His passion and dedication to the world of scent is inspiring. He is very charismatic and creates beautiful perfume that makes you experience the feeling and emotion of scent. He’s been very inspiring to me.
What is the importance or value of matching a perfume directly to a person’s olfactory profile and natural skin scent?
I believe the client and customer is the last note when it comes to a perfume. During a consultation, I have them highlight what their favorite foods are, and favorite places in the world. The skin is very different from person to person. When you have dry skin, the notes will rise quicker and if you have oily skin, the notes will melt quicker. Fragrance is like a pyramid, the notes dance on the skin according to the House of Guerlain. You perfume the perfume because you are the last note. You can put the same perfume on 5 different people and each will smell different because their own chemistry kicks in. At the House of Guerlain we use raw materials, the synthetics we use are very high quality and very minimal. The synthetic holds the fragrance together, which is why the skin is so important. And, if you go to a place that is cold, the notes in a fragrance will smell very different and will rise differently.
Can you speak to the correlation between scent and memory, expounding on why perfume can be such an intimate aspect of one’s routine?
A memory with perfume is automatic. We have stories of customers coming to me and they smell a fragrance and they start to cry because its either taken them to a good place or a bad place. We will show Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, or Jicky and it reminds customers of their moms. Angelina Jolie for example, she became emotional when she smelt the cosmetic powder in Meteorites because it reminded her of her own mom, we use the violet and iris scent a lot in our cosmetics. Like a good boyfriend or a bad boyfriend, you will sometimes smell a cologne and it reminds you of them. Memories in fragrance can put you in a good mood or a bad mood. And fragrance is like a wardrobe, you will pick a different scent to match what you might do during the day and what you wear.
Guerlain has almost 200 years worth of scent archives. What does that mean in terms of your job? And what can this extent of history offer to a client that changes the perfume experience?
The fact that the integrity of the brand is there and innovation is incredible and never stops, they really listen to the clients. For 191 years, I call them the grandfather of the perfumery and aesthetic world, the first perfume, Jicky, shows the integrity of the brand, with quality and service. Now being under LVMH, LVMH understands Guerlain is an institution and the investment has no limits. The Guerlain Perfumer experience is the best way to find your signature, the way we do fragrance – we pick based off your lifestyle. What she experiences at Guerlain is a true perfumer. The way the fragrance changes on the skin during the consultation, you have to understand it is very vertical – its not flat, that’s why we emphasize it changes during the day. The whole symphony of the experience is important for the client when they are at the Guerlain Perfumer.