Symrise, Collette Partner for Special Designer Scents
PARIS — What do you get when you mix three edgy fashion brands, an uberhip concept store and an essential oils house?

Some very unusual fragrances, including one perhaps better described as an odor.

That's what happened when Symrise teamed with Hussein Chalayan, Bless and As Four to create a limited-edition line of signature scents to be sold exclusively at Colette here this fall.

"We're always in search of ideas to stimulate the creativity of our perfumers," said Olivier Perrard, the then outgoing head of Symrise's business in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

"They [perfumers] are bombarded all year by projects that have timing restrictions, that must respect regulatory norms and price constraints, so they don't have time to develop products that they really want to create."

That's where Colette came in. The store is acting as a "curator" for the collection of one-off fragrances, dubbed "Curated by Colette."

"Colette chose three designers most able to [cause a stir] and participate in this kind of project," Perrard explained.

The designers worked with Symrise perfumers to come up with scents on sky's-the-limit budgets. Their only constraint was the flacon in which the scents are to be bottled, which is the same for all the designers with the exception of their personalized labels. All three came up with unisex eaux.

Chalayan worked with Paris-based nose Mark Buxton to concoct a scent meant to remind the designer of a train journey from London's Victoria Station to Istanbul.

Of course, given Chalayan's conceptual bent, "He didn't want to smell London, Paris, Venice and Istanbul," noted Elisabeth Carre, Symrise's international fragrance development director, who acted as an intermediary between designers and perfumers. "There had to be a teleportation aspect to it."

Chalayan's fragrance comprises top notes of bergamot, cardamom, tea leaves, rose and lily; Lapsang Souchong tea, birch, tar and violet petal notes are at the heart, while patchouli, cedarwood, fir balsam and sandalwood notes are at its base.

Design duo Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag of Bless also worked with Buxton to create their scent. To give the perfumer an idea of the type of fragrance they were after, each separately (and unbeknownst to the other) concocted a mixture of odiferous household products, including chocolate spread, shampoo and moisturizers.

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