PARIS — Inès de la Fressange is a fragrance aficionado, who has just concocted two scents for her eponymous label. Or Choc was created with IFF perfumer Sophie Labbé, while Blanc Chic was conceived with IFF perfumer Delphine Lebeau.
De la Fressange shared thoughts with WWD about patchouli, freckles, her love of the word “sweetheart” and the eaux de parfums, which are being sold starting this week through Marionnaud, marionnaud.fr, Inès de la Fressange Paris points of sale and inesdelafressange.fr.
WWD: Have you always loved fragrances?
Inès de la Fressange: I spent a lot of my childhood with my grandmother, who was totally addicted to haute couture and jewelry, but also to perfumes. So, it’s been in my culture forever. Also, I spent [the first 20 years of my life] in an old watermill in the country, surrounded by antique roses, peonies and lilacs. Maybe if you have a childhood in the country, you are more sensitive to fragrances.
WWD: What was the first scent you wore?
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I.D.L.F.: It was in the late Seventies. We were listening to Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, so patchouli was the thing. I’m ashamed, but it was the trend. I wanted to copy one of my friends, just because she had long, straight hair and freckles, and was wearing No.19 eau de toilette from Chanel. I couldn’t imagine I would work for that brand a few years later.
WWD: What do you love in a fragrance?
I.D.L.F.: That it is addictive, bewitching — a real enchantment of refinement and sophistication. Even if it’s ephemeral, it’s essential, a final touch to show that material things are not enough — we also need magic in life.
WWD: What do you dislike in a fragrance?
I.D.L.F.: Many perfumes today are aggressive — too strong, too precise, [being just like] vanilla, fig or lemon. I prefer when you can’t tell exactly what’s inside. Maybe it’s because I feel uncomfortable with most of what is on the market [today] that I wanted to make my own.
WWD: What was the idea behind your fragrances?
I.D.L.F.: I wanted to make a timeless perfume — something elegant but not boring. “Chic” is for the elegance, “choc” is for the rock side. It’s not a signature, but a magical touch that would immediately give style to the person wearing it. Perfume is like shoes, it reveals a lot about one’s self.
WWD: Why launch a couple at once, rather than a single perfume?
I.D.L.F.: Ah — maybe because I’m used to “collections,” working in the fashion world for so long. But it’s also because there are many different kinds of women — and men — and just like in fashion sometimes one can be very casual, and another day more sophisticated.
WWD: What was your favorite part of creating the perfumes?
I.D.L.F.: Sweetheart, it’s like everything in life. I love to say “sweetheart” — this word doesn’t exist in French. When you work with gifted people, it makes all the difference. The two “noses” who worked with me were so kind, attentive, smart and talented that I was totally seduced and [full of admiration].
It has a lot in common with couture: If you don’t have the right people in the ateliers to make a perfume, to understand and interpret, you can’t do it. Also, I came with many “don’ts,” and they were not at all [bewildered]. They just wanted to please me, and actually succeeded.
WWD: Are you working on any other projects you can discuss?
I.D.L.F.: I am going to launch a homeware collection with Frédéric Périgot for Monoprix — make a perfumed candle and tea, and prepare another collection for my brand, Inès de la Fressange Paris, and one for Uniqlo — number 12, I think.
Also, every week I write a newsletter, lalettredines.com, translated into English, where I give addresses, advice and other things.