The granddaughter of storied fashion designers Marcel and Hélène Rochas aims to follow in her family’s fragrance-minded footsteps with a new brand centered on balancing the self through scent.
This story first appeared in the March 14, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Pauline Rochas and her partner Carole Beaupré — who together in 2000 founded Coolife, a Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based still life and beauty photography studio — decided to enter the fragrance industry as a form of artistic expression and as an homage to Rochas’ family roots.
“My grandmother was always a very strong inspiration for me. We had a very strong connection the two of us. We very much look alike, physically and in terms of sensitivity,” said Rochas, who was born in Paris. “Since a very young age, she’d take me to the Rochas fashion house and I’d smell the scent she was working on. I was raised in that environment of luxury, art, fashion and scent, and I always felt that scent was in my blood.”
Coolife’s first scent, Le Premier Parfum, which Rochas describes as an “aphrodisiac,” is said to attract people to the wearer by activating his or her second chakra, called Swadhisthana, located beneath the naval. “It’s all about opening the sacral chakra associated with pleasure, sensuality, and give and take,” said Beaupré, adding that those who have worn the scent have reported an increased number of chance encounters. “We wanted to share with people that there is so much power in chakras in terms of energy centers, and sometimes they are closed when they should be opened.” Added Rochas, “We say to wear it responsibly because when you wear it things just happen. It brings people together.”
Whether or not the scent can truly attract others remains unknown, but its creation was certainly a challenge, according to the lead perfumer Patricia Choux. Choux was tasked with using only seven ingredients — among those in the final recipe are resinous labdanum, sandalwood, patchouli and ylang ylang — symbolizing the seven chakras in the human body.
“Le Premier Parfum was a great challenge for me as it needed to be formulated and created in a totally different way than usual. I had to work with only seven raw materials, which meant I could not think in terms of traditional construction of top, mid and dry [notes],” said Choux, the nose behind scents from brands like Clive Christian, Marc Jacobs and Jo Malone. “The olfactive beauty of this fragrance is centered on the purity this short formula calls for. Olfactive blur becomes impossible.”
Le Premier Perfume, $175, which launches on bycoolife.com this Friday, will roll out to indie retailers such as Aedes de Venustas, Twisted Lily, Osswald and Turpan next week. It could generate $500,000 in its first year at retail, according to industry sources.
The first run of 500 bottles will be hand numbered, as will the first 500 of each of the brand’s upcoming scents. There will be a total of seven scents, one for each chakra, rolling out over the next three years. The brand will enter additional markets, namely Europe, in the next 12 to 24 months. Accompanying scented candles are also planned, with the first launching for holiday 2014. All the marketing imagery for the brand, described as “extremely sexy” and “unconventional,” will be Rochas and Beaupré’s original work, including a dramatic snake and scent image which will be used for in-store displays and on the Web site.